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#GivingTuesday Hits Record $274 Million

In its sixth iteration, #GivingTuesday hasn’t slowed in spite of a year filled with natural disasters that implored donors to contribute to charities, reaching another new record yesterday.

The 2017 #GivingTuesday Data Project reported $274 million raised from more than 2.5 million contributions yesterday, an increase of $97 million or 55 percent, overall last year. The final count last year was $177 million, a roughly 20-percent increase compared to the total raised in 2015, according to the #GivingTuesday Data Project at thee 92nd Street Y (92Y). Data this year were drawn from about three dozen different fundraising platforms.

Among the largest processing platforms surveyed by The NonProfit Times, with this year’s total followed by last year’s total in parentheses:

  • PayPal, $64 million ($48 million, +33 percent);
  • Blackbaud, $60.9 million ($47.7 million, +28 percent);
  • Facebook, $45 million (n/a);
  • DonorPerfect, $27.7 million ($12.8 million, +116 percent);
  • Classy, $10.2 million ($6.45 million, +58 percent);
  • Network For Good, $8.8 million ($7.6 million, +16 percent)

The total among those platforms was about $216.5 million, and among those with figures for both years, the total was up 42 percent, from about $120 million to almost $170 million.

Charleston, S.C.-based technology fundraising firm Blackbaud processed $60.9 million for more than 7,200 organizations receiving online donations yesterday. Online donations were up 28 percent compared to last year. Donation volume (the number of gifts) grew by 20 percent, and the number of nonprofits receiving an online donation jumped 8 percent.

The online average gift amounts exceeded $134, about 6 percent more than than last year. More than one in four online donations (26 percent) via Blackbaud were made on a mobile device.

PayPal facilitated $64 million in #GivingTuesday donations, breaking its own single-day fundraising efforts of $48 million in 2016 and $45 million in 2015. In addition to the 33 percent increase in dollars, the number of donors who gave through the payment platform increased by 30 percent — from 550,000 in 2016 to more than 715,000 in 2017.

PayPal took to social media and digital channels in promoting #GivingTuesday and had actress Sophia Bush assist with promotional materials. The platform also expanded #GivingTuesday capabilities to 11 markets – including Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, and Brazil — compared to nine in 2016. Though promotional materials helped drive giving, the increase is more attributable to the growing popularity of the event as spurred by the 92nd Street Y and other nonprofits, said Sean Milliken, Head of Global Social Innovation at PayPal.

PayPal also launched its 1 percent match on all gifts made through its giving platform and mobile app on Tuesday. The campaign will run through the end of the year with matching gifts and processing costs covered by the company. Marketing the opportunity to PayPal’s customer base is already underway with the hope that the company will be able to exceed last year’s holiday total of $971 million processed.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised just shy of $1 million during #GivingTuesday, according to Geraldine Engel, deputy director of development. The figure is down from the $1.7 million raised during #GivingTuesday in 2016, but still markedly ahead of the $200,000 in 2015. Engel said that the organization was pleasantly surprised to maintain some of last year’s #GivingTuesday momentum and attributed recent success to the growing popularity of the event as opposed to the organization’s frequent legal scrums with President Donald Trump.

ACLU staff are still comparing figures from Tuesday to last year. Last year’s sharp spike was due to a large influx of donors supporting the organization for the first time, Engel said. This year has been more focused on retention. “Of course we are still focused on bringing in new people, but it’s retention — holding onto the people that came in – that is our focus for this year-end period,” she said.

#GivingTuesday was also used by the organization to promote its year-end gift-matching program. The $1-million match was provided by anonymous donors and represents an increase from last year’s $500,000 match, according to Engel. Proceeds will go to the organization’s 501(c)(4) arm, which tends to attract additional, lower-dollar gifts as such donations are not tax-deductible. A similar 501(c)(3) match program directed at larger gifts was conducted in the fall, she said.

While the fundraising numbers for #GivingTuesday continue to climb, it’s not always about an explicit ask for charities.

“The thing I get excited about is our research showed that 75 percent of nonprofits tried something new with #GivingTuesday,” said Henry Timms, co-founder of GivingTuesday and executive director of 92Y in New York City. “That’s very cool, that it’s encouraging that kind of experimentation, when clearly we know as a sector that’s the world we need to be living. We are going to have to be agile and if #GivingTuesday can play a role in encouraging that, I think that’s terrific,” he said during an interview yesterday at the #GivingTuesday homebase in 92Y’s Upper Manhattan headquarters.

And not every campaign is looking to break the seven-figure mark on #GivingTuesday. There were any number of examples yesterday that had more modest goals:

  • University of Central Florida raised $71,000 from 678 donors on #GivingTuesday, with top funds donated to a First Gen Scholarships program and the UCF Football Excellence.
  • Journalism & Women Symposium (JAWS) based in Grandville, Mich., surpassed its goal of $3,000, raising $5,130 to be used for a variety of in-person and virtual trainings.
  • Western Carolina University (WCU) hits its goal, raising $13,670 to go toward its athletic training room.

Timms held up the Houston Public Libraries as an example as well. Many of the libraries in Houston are still not open after Hurricane Harvey flooded the region in late August, so volunteers spent the day at pop-up libraries yesterday, reading for kids and bringing books to the community, he said.

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