Music, Mayhem, Money — It’s GivingTuesday

Students at The Juilliard School will be pitching in to help fundraising today, the 10th annual GivingTuesday. A video of a jazz trio from the legendary New York City music institution is being shared on the Instagram site of The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, which will also match the first $10,000 raised. Students were also invited to perform on Waldorf’s historic Cole Porter Steinway piano.

Over on the West Side of Manhattan at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, fundraisers are “taking the day to thank all of our supporters who are helping supercharge our transformation – particularly the many who gave so generously to the campaign for the new David Geffen Hall,” said Isabel Sinistore, senior director of communications at Lincoln Center, where Henry Timms, one of the founders of GivingTuesday is now chief executive.

“We plan to give over our social channels to boost arts organizations across New York City and beyond who are running GivingTuesday campaigns,” said Sinistore.

It will be social media and email from the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., according to Giselle Pole, director of philanthropic engagement. “For the 24-hour period, all contributions received will be matched by an anonymous donor up to a total of $25,000,” Pole said. The focus has been on celebrating and fundraising for the organization’s 50th anniversary.

The center’s fundraising goal for the day is $25,000, with a history of generating between $20,000 and $50,000 during each of the past several years, Pole said.

A year of planning – which involved new initiatives and analyzing 2022’s results – culminates today during GivingTuesday. Events for the worldwide celebration of generosity will be held in 87 nations with the hope of topping the estimated $2.7 billion raised in the United States last year, a 6% increase from 2020. Officials at GivingTuesday estimated that volunteering and gifts of goods on GivingTuesday 2021 also increased from 2020 in the United States. Volunteering on the day increased by 11% and gifts of goods (clothes, food, supplies, etc.) saw an 8% increase compared to 2020.

The majority of revenue will be from online donations and social media. Data released by digital agency Whole Whale projects $3.2 billion will be raised. The analysis is based on an adjusted linear regression, trends in Google Search terms around “GivingTuesday,” and national giving trends. The prediction is 18% or $500 million more than 2021.

Despite that rosy prediction, this year’s GivingTuesday comes with headwinds. It is Twitter-driven, and there is a lot of instability and concern around that platform. And, there are more channels for consumer spending than there were in 2020 and 2021.

“As we head into the last month of the year, December has been known to throw up surprises for fundraisers. And by surprises, I mean, negative surprises,” said Shannon McCracken, chief executive of the Nonprofit Alliance in Washington, D.C.

“Right now, we have relative economic stability coming out of Q3 of 2022. We’re not currently in a recession. But as consumers, we’re all conscious that we’re walking on the brink of that. Unemployment is low, but we’re all seeing the headlines of Big Tech layoffs,” she said. “Coming out of Thanksgiving weekend, grocery costs are up. We all felt that on our Thanksgiving grocery shopping.”

Fundraisers have come to rely on GivingTuesday as the bellwether of what all of December might look like, said McCracken. “If GivingTuesday exceeds the prior year, then we feel pretty confident that December can hold its own and potentially exceed as well. If an organization falls short on GivingTuesday, that’s really a concern, that their donor behavior is going to continue on that path for the remainder of the year.”

The 10 years have also allowed for some perspective. “Many of us were skeptics. There was some concern that we weren’t actually building additional giving, we were just moving the time, we were getting people to give a little bit earlier and by the end of the year it would be a wash,” said McCracken. “That’s been shown to be wrong. GivingTuesday truly is incremental giving, not only in amount, but in who is giving as well.”

That also means new money. “My sense is that our GivingTuesday performance is 75% CARE-aware and 25% new to CARE, said Angie Moore, chief individual fundraising officer for Atlanta-headquartered relief organization CARE.

While the U.S. economy is a concern for fundraising, “international relief/aid is a small percentage of charitable giving in the U.S. every year so we have a tendency to not be impacted by things as our donors are pretty loyal to our cause because many people think of it as a niche giving arena,” said Moore.

The approach to GivingTuesday hasn’t changed significantly year-over-year. “The launch of our GT campaign in paid Facebook ads keeps having to start earlier and earlier to get through the learning phase of that channel,” said Moore. “It seems that the learning phase has doubled this year which means the actual ads don’t start optimizing in scale as quickly, she said.

“We actually noticed a lot of charities starting their GT campaigns on Facebook in early November this year with us.”

The United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) released new research in which the data showed that the number of people in the United States donating to aid groups was 36% during 2022, a steady increase since 2018 when 32% of people reported making donations. The increase is driven by young adults (aged 18-24).

The data also shows that not everyone is providing items that might be the most useful for communities in need. When it comes to helping with international disasters and crises, 46% of respondents believe material goods are most effective and 51% believe relief organizations prefer material donations rather than cash.

The American Red Cross is highlighting the year-round mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering across the country, according to Nicole Maul, director of media relations. The highlighted program is Give Something that Means Something. For example, a gift of $55 can deliver hot meals for five people after a disaster in the U.S. or a donation of $50 can help connect veterans and their families to critical community services such as food, housing, mental health support and rehabilitation, she explained.

“We’re also encouraging people to give the gift of time by becoming a volunteer or rolling up a sleeve and scheduling an appointment to donate blood,” said Maul, which ties into GivingTuesday’s broader generosity theme.

The four major military aid societies are joining forces to raise funds for service members and families on GivingTuesday. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Air Force Aid Society, Army Emergency Relief and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance will #Battle4BraggingRights to see which can garner the most contributions in a single day.

The #Battle4BraggingRights will play out on social media. Donors are being asked to visit Battle4BraggingRights.com and designate their gift to one of the four military aid societies. At the end, a winner will be crowned. Lockheed Martin will match every gift made on GivingTuesday, up to $1 million.

GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and incubated in its Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact as a day to do good. The founders are Asha Curran, the current chief executive officer of GivingTuesday who was at the Belfer Center, and Henry Timms, who was head of the 92nd Street Y and is now president and CEO at Lincoln Center in New York City.


The NonProfit Times writers Richard H. Levey and Eric Obernauer contributed to this story.