The five days after Thanksgiving are a mixture of hysteria, hype and maybe some hope.
The mother-of-all-shopping-days, Black Friday, is followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
If you’ve been frugal during the holiday spending spree, and you’re feeling generous, consider giving to a favorite charity on #GivingTuesday.
#GivingTuesday is Dec. 1, 2015. It was created in 2012 as a response to the commercialization of the holiday season, and to campaign for charitable donations. According to givingtuesday.org, the 92nd Street Y, a nonprofit cultural and community center in New York City, launched #GivingTuesday as a way to celebrate and encourage giving.
“The one difference with Giving Tuesday, and why it focuses on cash, is specifically because of that sequence ... Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday,” said Lori Shandor, Director of Development with Mill Creek MetroParks.
“It’s to get people to circle back to what they were thinking about on Thanksgiving, thinking about those who are less fortunate.”
#GivingTuesday is the textbook definition of hashtag activism.
On Twitter and other social media platforms, hashtags (the # symbol) are used to organize conversations on similar topics. Hashtag activism is viewed as a form of social media crusading, drawing the attention of millions of social media users to important issues.
Some notable examples from the past few years include #BlackLivesMatter and #BringBackOurGirls. The hashtag credited with starting online activism is #OccupyWallStreet.
To be sure, Small Business Saturday is also a form of hashtag activism. Using the tag #ShopSmall, the focus is still on spending money, but to get social media users to think locally, about shopping at small neighborhood stores rather than big-box department stores.
For #GivingTuesday, it’s as much about giving back as it is about drawing attention to the issues of consumerism.
Between 2012 and 2014, major nonprofit software services such as Blackbaud and nonprofit crowdfunding services such as GlobalGiving reported raising more than $83 million.
Of course, that number pales in comparison to the money spent over the previous three days. But consider this: Blackbaud reported donations on #GivingTuesday through their service jumped from $10 million in 2012 to more than $26 million in 2014. That’s a 159 percent increase in donations.
Clearly, the social media masses were activated.
Many nonprofit agencies are already gearing up for another big Tuesday. Chris Evans, star of the “Captain America” movies, recently posted a short YouTube video for Christopher’s Haven, apartments in Boston for families of children battling cancer.
The video was promoted on Twitter with a tweet that had the #GivingTuesday hashtag.
For some nonprofits, giving back doesn’t always mean giving money.
“Places like the food bank or St. Vincent De Paul are always in need of items as well as monetary donations,” said Shandor. “As fundraisers, we ask people to be giving of their time, talent or treasure.”
Want to activate your nonprofit group on #GivingTuesday? Check out givingtuesday.org for tools, resources and webinars. If you’re thinking ahead to next year, the next #GivingTuesday is Nov. 29, 2016.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.