Impact Of #GivingTuesday Still Being Assessed

With data being announced in small bites, organizers of #GivingTuesday, an annual day of giving launched this past Tuesday, are optimistic the event had an impact.

Of the firmer statistics available, two software firms said that donation processing was up significantly year-over-year this past Tuesday. Blackbaud in Charleston, S.C., reported processing $10.1 million on Tuesday, up 53 percent from the Tuesday after Thanksgiving last year and an average gift of $101.60. Blackbaud projects it has 10 percent of the online giving market, said Melanie Mathos, senior public relations manager at Blackbaud.

SofterWare in Horsham, Pa., maker of DonorPerfect Fundraising software, reported giving up 46 percent with an average gift of $136.85. The average gift was up 25 percent from last year.

“While it will be difficult to sustain a 25-percent increase through the rest of the year, we’re confident that overall giving will continue to grow through the end of 2012,” said Jon Biedermann, vice president of fundraising products for SofterWare. “Regardless of the state of the economy, it’s clear that people continue to feel generous and are willing to help out those in need,” he said.

#GivingTuesday is the charitable sector’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Approximately 2,500 organizations — both nonprofits and their for-profit supporters — pushed Americans to kick off the holiday season with a donation of cash or time. Much like stores having promotions tied to their brands on Black Friday, it was up to each participating organization to determine how they’ll promote the event.

Initially convened by leaders of 92nd Street Y in New York City, the event was supported by a group of founding partners including the United Nations Foundation, Case Foundation, DonorsChoose.org, Mashable, Blackbaud, charity: water, GlobalGiving, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Kiva, Darden Restaurant Group, Groupon, Unilever and VentureThree Capital.

Though no one organization controls #GivingTuesday, a mass message of support from about 800,000 people went out on Twitter via the Thunderclap platform at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Thunderclap allows for a large number of social media users to write a message and share it at the same time.

One of the challenges of measuring such an event is that online giving is still a small but rapidly growing element of fundraising, generating an estimated 8 to 9 percent of all giving. One vendor measuring outcomes who spoke on background, said that one firm’s client base had more than doubled year-over-year so comparing this year’s numbers to last year’s won’t provide an accurate picture of what happened.

A boost in average gift will particularly help smaller organizations, said Biedermann. “Gift size 25 percent higher is good news,” he said.

He said that while calculating the day’s numbers is important, more valuable will be the numbers for the full week, as checks get written and sent.

It wasn’t all about money. Awareness was also important. DoSomething in New York City had 3,000 adults take an online quiz regarding knowledge of youth. They raised some cash. “But, we didn’t expect to raise lots of dollars. We are less than 1 percent individual giving,” said Nancy Lublin, the youth organization’s “chief old person.”