UN Foundation, PR firms put plans in place for #GivingTuesday

Last year, the communications core of the effort - called "a PR potluck for good" - generated more than 1.2 billion media impressions through work by various PR firms.

WASHINGTON: Organizers and participants alike are using the next three and a half months to prepare for the third-annual #GivingTuesday, set for December 2.

Preparing for the global day of generosity, the UN Foundation is considering "how much we can achieve when we’re working together," said Aaron Sherinian, VP of communications and PR at the organization.

"A global movement takes good planning, it takes some great strategy, and it takes time to build," he said.

Last year, the communications core of the effort – Sherinian called it "a PR potluck for good" – generated more than 1.2 billion media impressions through work by firms including Fenton Communications, FleishmanHillard, Havas PR, and Weber Shandwick. Edelman and Turner4D are also involved this year, as are Sunshine Sachs and Coyne PR.

This year, participants are planning to leverage their strengths across communications, marketing, and digital media in an effort to generate more support for the movement.

"Year one, we thought we were on to something big. It went global very quickly," added Sherinian. "That’s the proof point that donations can go up in a year."

The bulk of charitable giving occurs in the final week of the year. However, Sherinian said the alliance is asking people to give earlier so they’re not only donating more, but acting on their own behalves, as well.

"This is not about pressure-selling, this is about asking people to partner, and by doing something earlier in the giving season [they can] help NGOs and philanthropies say, ‘here’s what we’re about,’" he said.

Created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York in partnership with the UN Foundation, more than 2,500 organizations across the US participated in its inaugural year. That number jumped to 10,000 partners in the US and 46 countries last year, according to a statement from the UN Foundation.  

A goal of the effort is to create another unofficial holiday after Thanksgiving, just after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Kris Balderston, SVP, senior partner, and GM at FleishmanHillard, said firms joining forces make the effort more successful. No one is being told what to give, so "they can be creative," he noted. Last year, practitioners got involved in #GivingTuesday by tweeting, volunteering, or donating to a favorite charity. They also shared "unselfies" – images of themselves giving back.

Preparing early also gives participants an advantage, said Balderston.

"They prepare year-round for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so why shouldn’t we?" he said.

Balderston added that social media is particularly important to #GivingTuesday because it draws younger demographics that can spread awareness of the day among their followers.

"Gone are the days of writing a check and sending it in an envelope," he explained.

TV networks Fusion and Univision are the media partners for #GivingTuesday 2014, with the former engaging the Hispanic community and the latter drawing in Millennials.

"We live in a time where people realize that giving is so much more than just their dollars. Giving back is their time, it’s the brands they affiliate with, it’s what they advocate for online, and it’s what they do with their social media profiles," said Sherinian. "This is so much more than one category."

This story was updated on August 15 to correct the firms that participated in the initiative last year. It was updated on August 18 with the names of additional firms working on the initiative this year.

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