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Giving Tuesday: A cause for celebration

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. I don’t generally welcome the spread of US holiday traditions to the UK, particularly those with such commercial connotations like Halloween, but Giving Tuesday is one I’m all in favour of!

Giving Tuesday was launched in the US in 2012, developed as an antidote to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the Christmas shopping season in general. It is essentially a social media campaign to celebrate giving, spurring gifts to charities and encouraging open conversation and discussion about giving – spread the word, give or do something and feel good. And it’s had an impressive impact – more than U$10m was donated online on the first Giving Tuesday last year, 53% higher than on the same shopping day in 2011.

It is a collaborative effort between corporates, cities, charities and faith-based organisations, with the White House wholly backing the campaign this year. 2,500 charities were involved in 2012 and this year over 7,000 charities will be promoting the day with innovative and creative approaches to fundraising. Last year, one particular charity, Heifer International, developed a Giving Tuesday calculator to show how much money people had saved by shopping on Black Friday, encouraging them to convert some of that saving into a donation.

Here in the UK, we are much quieter about our giving and the idea of openly celebrating it may not fit with everyone’s sensitivities. But there are signs we’re moving in the right direction: six Brits are now signed up to the Giving Pledge—the membership criteria being a net worth of over $1bn and a pledge  to give more than half that wealth away during your life or in your will. But those six equate to less than 5% of billionaires in the UK, whereas almost 20% of the US’s billionaires have signed up so far. Perhaps Giving Tuesday will flush out a few more as it spreads to the UK for the first time. And maybe the UK government will follow in Obama’s footsteps in their support of the campaign.

Personally, it’s an opportunity for me to get my own rather ad-hoc giving in order. I’m actively looking for a new trustee position having recently retired from one after five years, and I’ve just sent off a donation to one of my favourite charities, In Harmony Lambeth, which uses music to enrich the lives of some of the most deprived children in the borough, based on Venezuela’s El Sistema movement. I’m also trying, along with others, to encourage fellow parents at my children’s school to donate unused musical instruments to In Harmony.

It will be interesting to see the impact of Giving Tuesday in the US, the UK and across the world tomorrow. How will you celebrate this new national day of giving?

  • Follow the day on Twitter using #GivingTuesday