Donors, Volunteers Pitched In On #GivingTuesdayNow 

Whether it was an effort to raise $20 million in North Texas or a gesture as simple as canvassing homebound neighbors to offer doing their yard work, #GivingTuesdayNow sparked activity in more than 145 countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The May 5 event, launched by the nonprofit Giving Tuesday, organizers of December’s #GivingTuesday, was an emergency response to the unprecedented need created by COVID-19.

#GivingTuesdayNow platform partners — which include more than 90 companies that provide fundraising, volunteering and donor engagement technology — reported a spike in giving during the day. How much of a spike is still unclear.

“We had a lot of people think about ways to engage people on multiple dimensions,” Jamie McDonald, chief strategy officer at Giving Tuesday, said during a telephone interview yesterday. Organizations did concerts and performances in addition to asking for financial support, volunteers pledging time, and small businesses doing creative things.

The Communities Foundation of  Texas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys joined together to launch North Texas Giving Tuesday Now, which raised almost $21 million. Some 9,400 people pledged 300,000 volunteer hours.

GivingTuesday, through the GivingTuesday Data Commons, plans to publish deeper research, analysis and insights on shifts in giving behavior and opportunities to continue to increase generosity, even in times of crisis.

The GivingTuesday Data Commons has more than 150 collaborators and 40 global data labs. Given that the decision to launch #GivingTuesdayNow was made just six weeks ago, McDonald said they placed a lot less emphasis on donations for this particular campaign. Many data partners are asked to provide feedback on #GivingTuesday but that’s a lot to ask right now as everyone “is working in ways that we don’t normally,” she said.

“We’re thrilled that people are supporting nonprofits financially, but also had objectives here that were more about strengthening civic bonds and a sense of togetherness, at a time when people feel very isolated,” McDonald said.

PayPal reported raising approximately $65 million globally, which was 43 percent more than the previous seven days, according to Giving Tuesday. The payment processor also included a new way to donate using credit card rewards points, COVID-19 fundraisers in 12 markets around the world, and donations at checkout.

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) reported 18 percent of its campaign coming in on #GivingTuesdayNow, with 80 percent of donors being new donors and 77 percent of donors making recurring gifts.

The U.N. Foundation, which is supporting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic response, saw a 30-percent average growth in giving, reaching a digital audience of 2.3 million. The U.N. Foundation has raised more than $200 million during the past two months for the WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

“This show of unity is a reminder that we are all connected and we are all generous, even when we are uncertain and afraid,” Asha Curran, GivingTuesday CEO, said via a press release. “We must now take the energy and inspiration of this moment forward to establish stronger habits of generosity, to think about the good we can create in the world every day. GivingTuesday will continue to help communities and the social sector rebuild in the wake of COVID-19 with a renewed focus on resilience,” she said.

“We hoped for a day that would galvanize people and organizations but it went way beyond what we ever could have anticipated,” McDonald said.

One local leader shared what #GivingTuesdayNow meant to local organizations and staff: “On behalf of all local nonprofits, thanks for helping us get our fire back. It was about more than money today, today was about confidence. It was a chance to be bold in the face of so much uncertainty.” Said McDonald: “That was the message we were hearing in countries around the world and in organizations large and small.”

#GivingTuesday is a pretty established holiday, with a lot of donor understanding and awareness, prep time and a playbook to tap into a pretty engaged donor base, according to Soraya Alexander, senior vice president of marketing and customer growth at Classy, a San Diego-based fundraising platform. They — and their clients — had no idea what to expected considering they had to consolidate planning and campaigns into a six-week period for #GivingTuesdayNow.

Almost $10.3 million was raised via Classy.org on #GivingTuesdayNow. That was more than 50 percent of the $19.4 million in donations that Classy saw during #GivingTuesday in 2019. “That success is really encouraging,” Alexander said. There were 6,462 active campaigns on Classy for GivingTuesday in 2019. By comparison, there were 5,466 campaigns raising money on #GivingTuesday.

Nonprofit leaders were able to pivot quickly and make sure technology is in place to help them and donors willing to listen, Alexander said. “Especially as you see these unemployment numbers skyrocket, they’re not sure how much donors are ready to open their wallets. It’s a testament to their ability to turn so quickly and capture so much latent giving opportunity,” she said.

Almost 300 schools raised $3.3 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts via GiveCampus. The fundraising platform reported that 293 schools participated compared with 309 that participated in #GivingTuesday 2019 but less than half as many donors: 11,748 on Tuesday compared with 25,205 in December.

Schwab Charitable facilitated more than two times the typical daily grant volume on #GivingTuesdayNow. Since mid-February, the number of grants recommended by donors at the San Francisco-based donor-advised fund (DAF) has risen more than 50 percent compared to the same time last year. That includes more than 20,000 grants to more than 5,800 charities specifically in support of COVID-19 relief and recovery efforts.

The global philanthropic response to COVID-19 recently surpassed $10 billion, including more than $6 billion in the United States, according to Candid. It’s unclear whether that figure, which includes $1.6 billion in in-kind gifts, overlaps with reporting from other sources.