First there was the American Thanksgiving. A day to give thanks and be with family and friends. That day is quickly followed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday – two days focused on consumerism and nothing else. To balance those days out a bit, we now have Giving Tuesday – a day where many people give generously to their favourite charity or charities.

But are you aware of the origins of Giving Tuesday?

It started just 6 years ago. In 2012, the 92nd Street Y, a community center based in New York City started the Giving Tuesday campaign. But instead of using it solely for their own marketing strategy, 92Y shared the novel idea with the world.

In an interview with Joan Garry, the CEO of 92Y, Henry Timms said the Giving Tuesday campaign succeeded because it allowed for the campaign to grow ‘sideways’ instead of vertically. By that, he meant the idea of Giving Tuesday was something that could be shared with your friends rather than with your donors or clients. In that way, there is no limit to how far the idea could spread.

Giving Tuesday, much like the ice bucket challenge, is a great example of that sideways sharing phenomenon in which everyone feels connected. That concept is also something Timms expands upon in his new book, New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World.

In the interview, Timms stated that in the ‘Old Power World’ set up, one that is focused on fundraising within a specific community, they would have called their campaign the “92nd Street Y Giving Tuesday” with their logo on it. They would also have insisted that anyone wanting to participate in the Giving Tuesday program use the specifications set up by the 92Y. And include a paragraph about 92Y in their press release etc. Does that strategy sound familiar?

But instead of doing that, they just shared the Giving Tuesday concept with the world without any branding. And according to Timms, allowing that idea to be shared has likely helped the 92nd Street Y. “I raise money in New York City, I understand the cut throat world of fundraising. But the truth of it is, the less we took credit for it (Giving Tuesday), the bigger it got. And the bigger it got, the better we did as an institution because the people who do know we started this campaign feel really proud of it.”

Giving Tuesday occurs in over 150 countries and the amount of money raised is impossible to estimate. In 2017, Giving Tuesday raised an estimated $274 million in the United States. Estimates for Canada are not known. However, our readers are encouraged to go to givingtuesday.ca to learn more about this New Power campaign that has transformed fundraising.

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