Charity officials say their donations increased about 50% year-over-year during the Nov. 27 inaugural push to follow the shopping of Black Friday and Cyber Monday by making the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the year's big day for online giving.
Whether the increase from the event, named #GivingTuesday, is new money or came from donors who simply shifted the timing of their donations, is not yet clear, said Una Osili, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Neither is the dollar amount raised, which will become more clear when annual donations are calculated, she said.
"There is some evidence that this was a boost in online giving," she said. Regardless, she said, the big benefit of #GivingTuesday was raising awareness for charities.
The social-media-centered movement started as an idea at the 92nd Street Y in New York City and swelled to 2,500 partners across the USA, including big names such as Microsoft and Sony, organizers say. Celebrities such as Katie Couric and Chelsea Clinton tweeted about it.
"This project really brought out people all over the country to commit acts of giving," said Henry Timms, the 92nd Street Y's deputy executive director of strategy, innovation and content.
Steve MacLaughlin, director of the Idea Lab at Charleston, S.C.-based Blackbaud, which offers software and services for non-profit groups, said #GivingTuesday resulted in a 53% increase in giving for the company's customers, worth $10 million compared to the same day last year. The company processes about 10% of the nation's online giving, he said.
Jean Case, CEO of Washington-based Case Foundation, one of the event's first partners, said her organization liked the idea because it focuses on leveraging social media for social good. It offered a $25,000 match on the fundraising website crowdrise.com for #GivingTuesday. Actor Kevin Bacon's foundation, Six Degrees, joined with an additional $10,000 in matching funds, she said.
Donors blew through that by 10 a.m., so the foundation put more money on the table and ended with $120,000 for charities, Case said.
"I think it will balance the 'buy, buy, buy' message that we are being blasted with at this special season and make people think about give, give, give," Case said.
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