By now, Black Friday and Cyper Monday have become part of the English language, known as the days for the best shopping deals of the holiday season. Now a new day is hoping to gain just as much recognition, #[hash tag] GivingTuesday, which is officially celebrated today with a handful of Rhode Island-based organizations taking part.
Started officially last year by New York-based 92nd Street Y, experts in community management, and their partner, United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday is a campaign geared at creating a national day of giving back to kick-off the holiday season. The movement encourages for-profit businesses, schools, community groups, individuals and families to spearhead projects to benefit non-profit organizations. People can also celebrate the day by finding their own way to give back within their community, such as volunteering at a local charity or donating to a cause.
Projects can be as simple as a school hosting a can drive for a local food pantry or an individual offering to rake the leaves for their elderly neighbor.
On the movement’s website, www.givingtuesday.org, registered 501c3 non-profit organizations can sign up to be official #GivingTuesday partners, and businesses, schools and community groups can share their project and how it will benefit the community.
#GivingTuesday is named with the hash tag to promote spreading the word and tracking the conversation through social media sites. When individuals, organizations or companies share what they are doing today on Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks, they are asked to use #GivingTuesday to help spread the word about this new movement.
Many may ask if #GivingTuesday has any effect on donations or charity projects. According to the movement’s website, in 2012 there were more than 2,500 recognized #GivingTuesday partners in all 50 states, which did lead to a measured increase in charitable giving on that day. Blackbaud, a software and services developer for non-profits that can track fundraising, processed more than $10 million in donations on that day alone, a 53 percent increase compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2011. DonorPerfect, another fundraising software company, reportedly saw a 46 percent increase in online donations and the size of the average gift increased 25 percent.
Also, #GivingTuesday trended worldwide on Twitter, with more than 50 million people across the world mentioning it.
For the second annual #GivingTuesday, there are 25 non-profits and businesses in Rhode Island who are serving as registered partners for the movement. Each company has a description of how they are helping to make this movement a reality on the website.
The Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership is participating in #GivingTuesday as a registered non-profit partner for the first time. Jo-Ann Schofield, president and CEO of the Mentoring Partnership, explained that the organization in sending out an email to all of their supporters detailing what #GivingTuesday is and different ways they can support the Mentoring Partnership through the movement.
“We went through Black Friday and Cyber Monday, now it’s a time for reflection and really thinking about the spirit of giving,” said Schofield.
She explained that this movement allows for the opportunity to find a way to give from the heart by donating time and talent to causes that are close to one’s heart.
“Everybody gets so focused on material things and it’s good to take that time to reflect on what you can do for yourself and for others,” added Schofield.
Schofield and her staff at the RI Mentoring Partnership are encouraging people to donate to the organization, purchase “Month of Prizes” raffle tickets for $20 (a prize will be given away every day in January for National Mentoring Month through the raffle), become a mentor themselves or spread the word about the importance of mentoring in honor of #GivingTuesday.
Cranston-based Alex and Ani is participating in #GivingTuesday by having a special deal on a three-piece bangle gift set. According to their project description, 20 percent of sales of all the Gift Box Set of 3 sold today will go to the American Cancer Society.
CVS Caremark is bringing their colleagues into the movement for their project. The company asked colleagues to nominate the non-profit organizations they support for the opportunity to win a grant. Today, the company will announce the 25 organizations that will each be awarded a $1,000 CVS Caremark Charitable Trust Grant in honor of #GivingTuesday.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport is a registered non-profit partner, looking for support in the form of donations to their 2013 Annual Fund. The Fund helps to preserve and enhance the Hall of Fame’s National Historic Landmark facilities, provide free museum admission to students under 16, acquire and care for artifacts and memorabilia, and helps with the cost of celebrating and honoring tennis champions and leaders.
Other Rhode Island-based partners include Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Roger Williams University, Salve Regina University, Waterfire Providence, Luna & Stella and more.
According to the Partners page, an overwhelming request to become registered partners caused #GivingTuesday to close the registration process, but they are still encouraging companies, organizations and businesses to share their stories and projects today through social media and email messages.
For more information about #GivingTuesday, check out their website at www.givingtuesday.org.