GivingTuesday wins big financially for charities

The #GivingTuesday campaign established the Tuesday after Cyber Monday as the kick-off to the holiday giving season.

Client: #GivingTuesday founding partners led by the United Nations Foundation (Washington, DC) and 92nd Street Y (New York) 
Fenton (New York)
 August 21- November 28, 2012 
$30,000 (funded by the United Nations Foundation)

The #GivingTuesday campaign established the Tuesday after Cyber Monday (November 27 in 2012) as the kick-off to the holiday giving season by encouraging individuals, companies, and organizations to take a charitable action of their choice and spread the word. The idea originated at the 92nd Street Y (92Y), the New York City nonprofit community and cultural center.

“Giving Tuesday is to the philanthropic world as Black Friday / Cyber Monday are to the retail world,” explains Henry Timms, 92Y's deputy executive director. “We wanted to create an umbrella that would serve everyone in the nonprofit sector.”

The 92Y asked the United Nations Foundation to partner on the campaign. The foundation agreed and hired Fenton to help lead a communication task force.

The idea was to start conversations about giving and encourage acts of giving. Media relations, social media ambassadors, and two websites drove awareness and encouraged involvement.

"We weren't telling people how to give, but celebrating generosity and creativity in giving back,” explains the UN Foundation's VP of communications and PR Aaron Sherinian. “#GivingTuesday let people discuss how they give, causes they support, and how philanthropy is part of their everyday lives.”

The launch was announced in September to consumer and nonprofit reporters. Tailored pitches followed to various top-tier news, general consumer, and philanthropy outlets. Localized stories were pitched closer to November 27. launched September 13 to provide information and allow new partners to join. 

Partners got a communication toolkit that included general messaging, a press release template, sample social media posts, and participation examples to use in their media outreach.

More than 1,000 people joined as social media ambassadors, including bloggers, students, online communication strategists, marketing experts, and CEOs. launched November 6 to help them easily share ideas and content.

The UN Foundation updated the #GivingTuesday Facebook and Twitter pages multiple times daily.

More than 2,500 partners had joined by November 27 - more than 100 times the goal.

Examples of giving results included founding partner Blackbaud processing $10 million in online donations, up 53% compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving 2011. A Microsoft initiative raised $215,000, and Panthera Foundation raised more than $600,000.

Reach across all social media platforms topped 50 million.

The campaign garnered 247 stories in outlets such as The Chronicle of Philanthropy, NPR, USA Today, and The original goal was five to 10 placements in key philanthropy and consumer outlets.

Timms says meetings are occurring with partners nationwide to determine how to best expand #GivingTuesday this year.   

Fenton's involvement will continue.

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