Posted: January 14, 2015, 10:18 a.m.
by Mary Kathryn Woods
Tis the season to be jolly — and charitable, of course. The holiday season inspires individuals, businesses and organizations, alike, to give back to their favorite causes. This spirit of giving reappears every year, but #GivingTuesday has turned it up a notch.
In 2012, New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation teamed up to establish a kick-off day for the giving season, which they called #GivingTuesday. The third annual #GivingTuesday kick-started this year’s giving season on Dec. 2, 2014, with quite a jingle.
But, what exactly is #GivingTuesday? Its website explains: “We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.” Essentially, the founders of #Giving Tuesday realized the ideal day for giving — the day following a weekend of overindulgent eating and crazed shopping.
This new “holiday” capitalized on our society’s obsession with social media and has done impressively well thus far. The campaign even put a spin on the selfie by encouraging followers to support #GivingTuesday by taking an “UNselfie” and sharing it on social media using the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie.
According to CNBC, “Giving Tuesday is only on its third year, but it’s quickly become a sensation with non-profits, donors and charitable causes. It’s engaged more 13,000 non-profit and corporate partners — from Microsoft and PayPal to CVS Health and Toys R Us — and the Red Cross and countless other charities.”
The hashtag #GivingTuesday trended on Twitter nationwide throughout the day. Celebrities and leaders also supported the cause. A Mashable article highlighted Bill Gates’, Richard Branson’s, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s and others’ thoughts on #GivingTuesday. President Obama also shared his praise for #GivingTuesday: “This holiday season I am inspired to see countless men and women giving in their own way. The response to #GivingTuesday demonstrates the enormous potential we have to leave an enduring mark not only in our communities, but also around the world.”
The Huffington Post featured a series of #GivingTuesday blogs leading up to the big day and live-blogged throughout the day to share ways to give. And there were many ways to give back on #GivingTuesday.
For example, Bitly, a website that shortens about 600 million links a month, partnered with the American Red Cross to launch Hope.ly. This campaign will still shorten users’ lengthy links, but it will also encourage users to donate money to Red Cross by adding on a red ribbon.
The Great American Milk Drive is raising money to provide households in need with milk. Individuals simply make a donation online, which will be matched by a number of companies and farmers at the end of the month. Also, every time you share its “Tis the Season to Give” video, the Great American Milk Drive will donate a gallon of milk to a family in need.
Child Hunger Ends Here promoted a #GivingTuesday campaign in which individuals were encouraged to donate to a charity of their choice and tweet about it with #YouGiveWeGive. For every donation made and tweet received, Child Hunger Ends Here donated 10 meals to Feeding America.
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital partnered with multiple sponsors for #GivingTuesday. For instance, Brooks Brothers donated five percent of its online sales to St. Jude. The NFL made St. Jude the charity of its choice for the campaign. CVS Health donated a dollar to St. Jude each time a specific message was retweeted. Similarly, Pencils of Promise donated $1 to build a school for children in Ghana for every retweet it received.
Ultimately, this selfless social media movement is just another example of the power of a hashtag. Could this day snowball into something as viral as the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? I guess we’ll find out next year.