#GivingTuesday 2014 Takes off, Shattering Last Year’s Numbers

After only three years, it’s starting to look like a full-fledged philanthropic movement. #GivingTuesday has taken off, and although the final numbers are still rolling in, initial estimates from five companies that process online donations suggest that roughly $47 million was donated last Tuesday.

As I explained last year, #GivingTuesday began in a New York City apartment in 2012, where the Executive Director of the 92nd Street Y, Henry Timms, dreamed of a global call for social good during the holiday season. After partnering with the D.C.-based United Nations Foundation, Timms and his team focused on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday to directly target donors after the intense barrage of Thanksgiving Weekend holiday shopping had died down. That Tuesday offered the chance for charities to engage donors and promote festive generosity, encouraging people to volunteer their time and give online to the nonprofits of their choosing.

The nascent movement gained traction through successful social media and outreach campaigns in its first year, and the organizing group pulled in 2,600 participating charities and nonprofits. By 2013, that number jumped to 8,300, and this year, it jumped again by 81 percent, with nearly 15,000 nonprofit organizations from 68 countries taking part, according to a Case Foundation report. Adding to last year’s impressive roster, several new big-name organizations also jumped onboard and promised to match donations this year, including Microsoft and PayPal.

The scope of this year’s donations has also proven impressive. Overall giving levels have continued their slow growth since the recession, and the Atlas of Giving forecasts a strong 5.7 percent increase in donations for 2014. #GivingTuesday should certainly help buoy this projection. According to Blackbaud, the nonprofit technology provider—and one of #GivingTuesday’s original partners—the average size of online gifts fell only slightly this year to $128 after having increased 40 percent in 2013. Total giving shot up considerably, however, with The Nonprofit Times estimating $47 million in contributions over the course of the day, compared to $32 million in 2013.

Much of the movement’s ongoing growth comes from its successful use of digital channels to connect organizations with donors. Online giving provides donors with a quick and efficient platform through which they can give, and more organizations are discovering the benefits of mobile-friendly websites.  In fact, a notable 17 percent of donation form views from Blackbaud’s customers came via mobile devices last Tuesday. At the same time, the movement’s savvy use of social media provides a far-reaching platform through which nonprofits can continually attract new donors and volunteers while engaging and retaining its existing ones. At the tail end of a year dominated by headlines about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and other charities’ social media success stories, #GivingTuesday 2014 provides further evidence of social media’s ability to develop online communities, build long-term advocacy and deliver strong financial support for charitable causes.

Did your organization take part in #GivingTuesday this year? What other year-end giving initiatives and strategies is your organization leveraging?