Here’s A Wacky Idea: How About A Day Devoted To Giving After All That Shopping?

Now that you’ve lugged home all your bags and boxes and Black Friday loot, you might be feeling a little bit… funny about it. Spending all that cash on loved ones during Black Friday/Thursday sales and even online during Cyber Monday is great, of course, but now charitable groups want to steer your need to spend in another direction with the first ever Giving Tuesday. Oh hey, that’s tomorrow!

It’s not such a long shot to start a day dedicated to giving back in the holiday season, as most of us are used to seeing Salvation Army Santas ringing bells to rake in donations and make it a point to give back during the season that celebrates selflessness.

But while it might feel nice to give your mom that big screen TV she didn’t know she always wanted, kicking off the start of the charitable giving season should also bring a bit of warmth to many a heart.

“I mean this is just brilliant, to just give everyone time to pause and think about what’s most important at the holiday season,” the founder of Mom It Forward tells NPR of Giving Tuesday. That online community is just one of more than 1,400 groups planning on being a part of the first ever Giving Tuesday tomorrow. Her group is even going to use social media to spread the word with a Twitter party on the topic.

“We’ll have an hour conversation about charity, holiday giving, volunteerism and how you can really make a difference over the holiday season,” she says.

Other groups are planning on getting the word out to their usual donors and beneficiaries to spread the word about giving on Tuesday, while some big retailers are scheduled to hold fundraisers and service projects.

It all started at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, which has an anonymous donor who will match contributions tomorrow up to a total of $50,000. Proponents of the event hope the “we’re all in this together” spirit will prompt people to celebrate giving to charity, instead of just dashing off a few checks at the end of the year.

And if there’s any time the charity scene needs a boost, it’s now, notes NPR, as donors are planning to give less or to not as many charities as they have in the past this holiday season. Using social media to spread the word could also get more young people involved in giving, as the average age of donors right now is 65.

“Our data and sort of trends show that the acquisition of new donors has been down by several percentage points over the past couple of years,” says Steve MacLaughlin, who runs the Idea Lab at a company called Blackbaud, which advises nonprofits on fundraising. “So if you’re not having new people coming in and starting to give to organizations that becomes a challenge because you’re relying on existing donors.”

The idea here is if the younger generations can get excited about causes, events or current events that they can talk about on Twitter and Facebook, making charitable giving a part of the online conversation could open up a whole new pool of donors.

It’s a good tack to take —  after all, what do people do these days when they’re proud of themselves for accomplishing anything? They take to the Internets to tell their friends, who don’t want to feel left out of the conversation. Becoming a part of the conversation in this case could translate to a surge in donations to charities, instead of just that occasional handful of change you might toss in the Salvation Army bucket.

‘Giving Tuesday': The Start Of A Holiday Tradition? [NPR]