How #GivingTuesday Came to Life

by Vesna Jaksic Lowe | Illustration Mitch Blunt
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Henry Timms came up with the idea behind #GivingTuesday during a breakfast with his wife in 2012. After discussing the idea with colleagues at 92nd Street Y in New York City, and partnering with other organizations, the global day of giving on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving became a reality.

“We were thinking, ‘Black Friday, Cyber Monday — two days all about individualism and commercialism,’” says Timms, the community center’s executive director. “We thought it would be a good idea to have something on Tuesday, and that philanthropy ought to be a part of this mix.”

Today, #GivingTuesday is a social media–fueled phenomenon that takes place in nearly 100 countries. Last year, Blackbaud, one of the initiative’s founding partners, processed more than $47 million in U.S. online donations on #GivingTuesday. According to Blackbaud Institute’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, online giving for that day rose by 20 percent from 2015, and nearly 10 percent of all online donations made in 2016 took place in November, likely due to #GivingTuesday.

“The creativity and the entrepreneurism of the nonprofit sector is the reason Giving Tuesday took off,” says Timms. “Small and medium nonprofits across the country grabbed the idea and made it meaningful for their communities.”

Here are a few examples:

Dress for Success turned the day into #GivingShoesDay, encouraging women to donate their shoes to help women in need of professional footwear for job interviews.
University of Michigan’s Giving Blueday uses the day as an opportunity to celebrate the school’s various causes, units, and student organizations.
HomeAid Puget Sound in Puget Sound, Washington, devotes the day to working with volunteers on assembling 3,000 “CareKits” — backpacks with hygiene products, hand warmers, and other useful items — for the local homeless community.
Mind Body Awareness Project in Oakland, California, which provides mindfulness and literacy programs to at-risk youth, launched a #givingmindfulness initiative, inviting the community to write encouraging holiday cards to young people living in juvenile halls in the Bay Area.


Vesna Jaksic Lowe is a New York-based communications consultant and writer. | British illustrator Mitch Blunt creates conceptual work for newspapers, magazines, and advertising.

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