Tuesday, November 27, 2012

new tradition: "giving tuesday"

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I'm skeptical of 'traditions' I've never heard of or that didn't exist more than 50 years ago. There is no vetting committee to validate whether something is actually a 'tradition' or not. More often than not these 'traditions' are made up by some marketing firm in an attempt to guilt people into parting with their money so the marketing firm's customers can create another off-shore account in Grand Cayman. (See 'Black Friday.')

However, there is a new 'tradition' in town, one that I can actually get behind. It involves spending money, but it doesn't involve making other people leave their families on a holiday to go work in retail so other people can run around like crazy people buying things before someone else can snatch them away. Instead of being about consumerism, it's about philanthropy.

Today begins open season on Giving.

The Giving Tuesday campaign was initiated by two lead charities to encourage a national day of giving back during the holiday season. According to the #GivingTuesday website, it is a day to celebrate a culture of giving rather than a culture of getting.

We Americans take some flack for our consumerism, but giving back is as much a part of the American psyche as mindless shopping and $5 lattes. The United States ranked #1 on the 2011 World Giving Index published by the Charities Aid Foundation, with an unprecedented World Giving Index score of 60%. 

However, charities cannot afford to lose traction when getting the word out about their needs. According to a new survey by Blackbaud (a company that advises nonprofits on fundraising), almost half of existing donors said they plan to give less or to fewer charities this holiday season. The average donor age is around 65. By using social media, the Giving Tuesday campaign hopes not only to encourage giving, but also to engage younger donors and enable them to be more actively involved in the causes they support.

Over 2000 charities or groups supporting charitable projects have registered as partners with Giving Tuesday. However, any charity is fair game - need knows no holiday and your favorite charity will be happy to receive your donation whether or not they are official partners. 

Blackbaud will analyze the impact of Giving Tuesday to help nonprofits understand its success and practical lessons for going forward. As a company that puts its money where its mouth is, Blackbaud is also donating $10,000 to a foundation that encourages innovation in philanthropy. 

As a former nonprofit manager and fundraiser, this is an encouraging move. As a former Blackbaud employee, it is especially gratifying for me personally. It feels good to know you have done something that matters. And as a charitable giver, this gives me yet another kick in the keister to do my part. 

So I am going online right now to make some donations. And for the record, if I'm on your Christmas list, don't worry about what size I wear or which color I would like - green always looks good, the size of a donation is always a perfect fit, and - an added bonus - it never, ever needs dusting.

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