The Washington Post

Can ‘#GivingTuesday’ do for charities what ‘Black Friday’ does for retailers?

An employee counts 5 dollar bills inside of a Guess? Inc. retail store in New York, U.S., on Monday, March 12, 2012. (Scott Eells/BLOOMBERG)

The holiday season is upon us and with it preparation for the biggest shopping days of the year, including Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

But none of these days are an umbrella for charitable giving — another hallmark of the holiday season.

Enter, “#GivingTuesday.”

A coalition led by the 92nd Street Y is trying to add a third day to the list of umbrella labels assigned to the holiday-season spending rush.

While the previous two days are centered around purchasing gifts for others (or one’s self), #GivingTuesday would focus on promoting charitable donations.

In addition to the 92nd Street Y, the effort is being promoted by leaders at notable non- and for-profit organizations, including nonprofit software service provider Blackbaud, which is hosting its annual conference Bbcon starting at the end of the month. Mashable COO Sharon Feder, The Economist’s Matthew Bishop and Stanford professor Robert Reich are also listed among those helping to promote the effort.

“It just struck me as a brilliant idea, because it would engage and excite partners that we’ve already brought on board to take a basic good idea about giving, but turn it into a network for social good,” said United Nations Foundation CEO Kathy Calvin.

The initiative is currently being promoted via social media and But, much like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is not, unto itself, a formal organization. Just as it is up to retailers to leverage the Monday and Friday umbrellas, leveraging #GivingTuesday would be up to individual organizations.

Over the last 50 years, according to Reich, Americans have been “consistently generous,” giving, on average, 2 percent of their income in any given year. The recession has driven overall giving down, says Reich, but that percentage of income has remained generally the same. Meanwhile, Black Friday shopping continues to reach all-new heights of spending.

“I am excited to see if Giving Tuesday can push the needle” above the 2 percent average, said Reich.

Will you participate in #GivingTuesday? Let us know in the comments.

Read more philanthropy news from On Giving

Emi Kolawole is the editor-in-residence at Stanford University's, where she works on media experimentation and design.
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