Now only in its fourth year, Giving Tuesday has become an annual counterpoint to the shopping splurges of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. First designated by New York City’s 92nd Street Y as a global day of giving in 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is now synonymous with social responsibility and charitable contributions.
“Giving Tuesday grew out of looking at our core beliefs in community and philanthropy, and imagining how social media might catapult them well beyond our walls,” Asha Curran, the 92Y Center’s director of Innovation & Social Impact, told Huffington Post. “The result has been a global movement around giving that exceeded all of our expectations.”
According to early reports, Giving Tuesday this year attracted more than 30,000 corporate participants in 68 countries. U.S. non-profits reported receiving almost 1.1 million online donations worth $116.7 million on Tuesday, Dec. 1, based on numbers released by donation processors such as Blackbaud and PayPal, up 52% from the year prior.
“We are just so thrilled,” Sheila Herrling, senior vice president of the Case Foundation, the Washington, D.C., philanthropic organization that crunched this year’s financial data, told Reuters. “The movement caught on last year, and it’s here to stay. We had a lot of confidence that this would keep on rolling.”
And roll on it has. The event expanded its reach in the social media, generating about 1.3 million #GivingTuesday hashtag mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, up 86% from 2014’s 750,000. Almost 700,000 donors participated online, and Blackbaud says the average donation increased 6% to $137.
That kind of attention is hard to ignore, and many retailers that are concerned about more than sales are getting involved with the retail holiday.
Reach for retailers
One of the retailers participating in Giving Tuesday, Lands’ End partnered with the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) to donate a new coat for every one purchased online during one hour on Dec. 1.
The online auction site eBay also supported Giving Tuesday again this year by launching a Charity Shop to help shoppers discover causes close to their hearts, while Charming Charlie donated $3 million worth of accessories to a women’s relief fund.
And the list goes on—H&M, Home Depot and dozens of other retailers participated.
Style e-tailer Rue La La hosted #GivingTuesday: Gifts That Give Back boutiques to benefit four non-profits Dec. 1, guaranteeing at least $10,000 each to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Dress for Success, Habitat for Humanity and Toys for Tots.
Throughout the year, Rue La La also encourages its associates to volunteer at local shelters and gives them time off to do so, as well as lending support to other initiatives.
“Our members were glad our organization supported the Giving Tuesday effort,” Trisha Spillane, the company’s public relations and brand communications director, told Retail Dive. “However, we don’t limit our giving to one day per year. Members of Rue La La know that we frequently support a variety of causes.”
Charity and commerce
Charitable works like those mentioned above are becoming a larger part of branding for companies wanting to reach concerned consumers—and Giving Tuesday is practically de rigeur for brands wish to integrate themselves into consumers’ hearts and minds.
“If for-profit companies can build authentic and relevant experiences around Giving Tuesday that demonstrate true community impact, consumers will be more likely to identify with the brand and engage with it regularly,” Ryan Scott, founder and CEO of the philanthropic platform Causecast, told Retail Dive.
Scott mentions Kenneth Cole—a company that has long spearheaded and publicized its support for social issues—as a company that is capitalizing on Giving Tuesday this year, with its “Look Good, for Good” initiative to fund AIDS research. But even mainstream brands are now finding that their involvement is expected.
“Giving Tuesday is no longer just a ‘nice to have,’” he says. “It’s absolutely crucial to building consumer and employee loyalty in the new year, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to boost your company’s community outreach and philanthropic programs at a time when people are most inclined to give their time, talent and treasure.”
It isn’t necessarily about driving sales, Spillane says. “It [is] about coming together on a day designated to give back and driving that message home. We linked to each participating charity to make it easy for our members to learn about ways to contribute—whether that was through volunteering, a donation or through our Gifts That Give Back boutique[s].”
But Giving Tuesday can drive good feeling and awareness at a time of year when consumers are inundated with marketing messages. “It’s difficult to capture the attention of consumers at this crazy, wonderful time of year,” Scott notes.
“Giving Tuesday can be a powerful tool that serves marketing objectives. Messaging alignment with this day of generosity elevates the consumer’s perspective of the brand, and gives them a sense of pride when they choose to invest in your product.”