Charities mimic retailers' strategy with 'Giving Tuesday'

Inspired by Black Friday and Cyber Monday, organizers have designated Giving Tuesday as a way of galvanizing support for nonprofits to ensure that consumers remember those in need during the busy shopping season. 

Nikki Fox/Daily News-Record/AP
Capt. Duane Burleigh kicked off the Salvation Army’s Christmas Red Kettle campaign Nov. 4 in Harrisonburg, Va. Charities aim to make Dec. 3 ‘Giving Tuesday.’

Black Friday. Cyber Monday. And now, Giving Tuesday.

Organizers are calling it the opening day of the giving season. And for good reason. Charities amass significant portions of their giving during the holiday season. According to the United Way's Center for Nonprofits, in Chattanooga, Tenn., holiday giving accounts for 30 to 40 percent of donations. For some organizations, like food banks, that figure can be much higher.

And charities want to remind people of just how important the season is with a splashy campaign on Dec. 3, which they're calling Giving Tuesday.

Inspired by Black Friday (the start of the retail holiday season) and Cyber Monday (with its focus on online selling), organizers have designated Giving Tuesday as a way of galvanizing support for nonprofits to ensure that consumers remember those in need during the busy shopping season. They're rolling out a new website, videos, advertising, social media campaigns, and events to try to stay top-of-mind among donors.

The effort has some big-name backers. Originally conceived in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community nonprofit center in New York City, the idea quickly attracted attention among national organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and the United Way. That kind of visibility also brought big donors, with support from corporations like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Sony.

Last year, an estimated 2,500 charities, corporations, and foundations participated in Giving Tuesday. By some measures, it was a success. PayPal's mobile donation application, which helps nonprofits easily collect donations, clocked in a 487 percent increase compared with the year before. According to organizers, the Twitter hashtag #givingtuesday appeared in more than 185,000 tweets.

Habitat for Humanity for Greater San Francisco, which builds homes for the needy, plans to ramp up its Giving Tuesday appeal after testing the waters last year.

"We're going to make a much stronger pitch to get donations on Tuesday," says Kristine Leja, the organization's senior director for development and communications. "This is really going to launch us into our end-of-year fundraising efforts."

She hopes the day will generate $5,000 and also fuel the larger campaign. In December, the group will send out more than 100,000 appeals, and estimates it will earn $1 million throughout the holiday season, securing a quarter of its annual donations. The campaign will heavily utilize social media channels like Twitter and Face­book.

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