#GivingTuesday Trending And Cashing In

December 3, 2013       Mark Hrywna and Patrick Sullivan      

Nonprofits around the nation have taken to social media, email and most any avenue available today to push charitable giving during the second annual #GivingTuesday. It has trended in first place on Twitter for most of the day.

#GivingTuesday, an effort started last year by 92Y and the U.N. Foundation, aims to be to charities what Cyber Monday or Black Friday are to retailers. More than 8,300 partners – including nonprofits, schools and businesses – registered for #GivingTuesday this year, more than three times the 2,500 reported last year.

Network For Good reported donations processed at $1.074 million as of 4 p.m. (EST), which is 70 percent ahead of last year’s pace and is more than last year’s 24-hour total $1.021 million. The estimate includes all sites that the Washington, D.C.-based payment processor hosts for charities in addition to platforms such as CrowdRise, Causes.com and other corporate websites.

Some of the nation’s largest donation processors said they would not be able to report activity until Wednesday.

The top nonprofit on Razoo.com platform as of 2 p.m. was Karam Foundation, with $31,474, from 269 donors, followed by Trinity Services with $12,175 from 44 donors, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which had 330 unique donors contribute $7,295. Based on current volume, CEO Lesley Manford predicted more than 10 times the fundraising that occurred in 2012’s #GivingTuesday. “Last year, we had a couple of fundraisers for #GivingTuesday, this year with our giving event, we have approximately 600,” she said.

The number of donations by text message were approaching last year’s total by 2 p.m. Eastern, according to Jenifer Snyder, executive director of Denver, Colo.-based The mGive Foundation. Last year’s #GivingTuesday generated some $55,000 in mobile donations across all of mGive’s client organizations, though no total was available yet.

While some charities are asking for direct donations others are focusing on engaging with donors and potential donors, either by email or social media. DonorsChoose.org used #GivingTuesday as a platform to say thank you, sending an email to donors that includes a Giving Tuesday video.

The two-minute video, which has received 500 views by early afternoon, features a New York City public school teacher explaining what DonorsChoose.org has meant to her classroom, as well as some of her students. The video, which never asks directly for a donation, ends with the words: “Thank you for showing teachers you care. Gratitude is contagious. Pass it on.”

Founder and CEO Charles Best published a LinkedIn influencer post this morning, offering three suggestions to get more out of the season of giving. The post, titled “Get More Out of Giving,” also featured the DonorsChoose video. As of 2 p.m., the post had received more than 2,000 impressions, 80 likes and 16 comments.

The American Red Cross is pushing people to the 2013 Red Cross Holiday Gift Catalog, where four free gifts are being featured with a minimum donation. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit reported a “definite uptick in traffic” to its holiday catalog, “but the biggest success has been the excitement we’ve generated with tweets of support from celebrities,” according to Laura Howe, vice president of public relations.

Talk show host and news anchor Katie Couric tweeted a Red Cross-related photo this morning for #GivingTuesday while other celebrity ambassadors also are encouraging donations. NASCAR’s Greg Biffle and the University of Phoenix urged donations of $50 and the purchase of symbolic military comfort kits that are presented to injured members of the Armed Forces as they arrive at military hospitals.

Camp Kesem, a national organization that supports kids affected by a parent’s cancer, raised $3,000 in the first few hours. The Lafayette, Calif.-based charities launched #BigKidsGive, a photo booth campaign at 36 of its 54 college campuses, to encourage students to give back to the camp and their neighboring communities.

“We’re asking 1,500 student volunteers from campuses all over the country to do what their generation does best – Tweet, Facebook, Instagram – all things social media,” said Jane Saccaro, CEO of Camp Kesem. These photo booths will be a fun and creative way for college students to engage in #GivingTuesday and inspire the spirit of giving amongst their peers,” she said.

New to #GivingTuesday this year is the unselfie, where participants turn their cell phone cameras around and capture selfless acts, post it to social media and tag it with #unselfie and #GivingTuesday. “The unselfie is a really good indicator of how much people want to talk about how they give,” said Aaron Sherinian, vice president of communications and public relations for the United Nations Foundation in Washington, D.C. “People want to talk about giving, they want it to be personal and they want it to be social.”

The Unselfie is particularly apropos because Oxford Dictionaries chose “selfie” as the word of the year. “We introduced the unselfie before it was the word of the year,” said Sherinian. “The coincidence is important; it was a great opportunity to leverage this.” Sherinian said the UN Foundation’s digital team came up with the concept that would help participants tap into the energy around #GivingTuesday.

“#GivingTuesday is a coalition of the innovatively generous,” he said. “(Our team) came up with the concept, and it’s heartening to see how people realized how it could help raise awareness. When people post an unselfie, they say ‘I care enough to give, I care enough to tell you about it and I care enough to invite you to be a part of it.”

Sherinian said early indicators for #GivingTuesday are heartening. “There are conversations happening in all 50 states and 19 countries,” he said. “People are talking about how philanthropy is relevant to their local communities and how to partner with larger organizations.”

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a newcomer to #GivingTuesday this year, having seen the response the initiative received last year, said Andrea Greif, senior director of communications for the White Plains, N.Y.-based organization.

“The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) did not leverage #GivingTuesday last year, but we recognize it as a wonderful opportunity to highlight the progress we’ve made against blood cancers,” she said. LLS sent an email to supporters last week and have been promoting #GivingTuesday through social media. The organization had raised nearly $45,000 by 4 p.m., and an anonymous donor is matching #GivingTuesday donations up to $50,000.

Partnering is a theme for this year’s #GivingTuesday. A coalition of about 500 nonprofits, foundations and businesses in Baltimore started the BMore Gives More campaign, aiming to raise $5 million in the city of Baltimore. Jamie McDonald, founder and president of crowdfunding platform GiveCorps, said by 2 p.m. and with only a handful of the partners reporting in, the campaign reached $2 million.

“It was our idea, but it came about because of an enthusiastic and motivated group of partners who share our vision to make #GivingTuesday more than just individual successes,” she said. “This is one of those times where the collective energy and the idea of moving the needle in Baltimore really coalesced the community around the initiative.”

#GivingTuesday is powerful precisely because everyone can participate and make the day their own. McDonald cited a French bakery in Baltimore that is donating portions of the profits from macaroon sales. “It may be only $500, but it’s a very personal community commitment,” she said. “They get to feel their impact directly, in a tangible way. That’s what really excites me about #GivingTuesday, it lets you highlight the impact that anyone can have.”