Let’s talk about… #givingtuesday

Guest columnist Ashleigh Milson, Senior Campaigns and Public Affairs Officer at the Charities Aid Foundation – organisers of #givingtuesday – on how charities can make the most of the opportunity offered by the day to give back after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

#givingtuesday started in the US in 2012 and has been running in the UK now for four years. The idea behind the campaign was to have a day to counter the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (which have seen people frantically trying to get hold of discounted goods in the Thanksgiving sales). That’s why #givingtuesday is always the first Tuesday after Black Friday. It is a day to give something back, to counter that kind of brash consumerism and restore everyone’s faith in humanity by showing the difference we can make when we all give together.

At #givingtuesday’s heart is a pretty simple message – do good stuff. It’s a really easy ask of individuals and businesses, and charities benefit. We don’t specify whether you should donate money or volunteer or just do something nice for somebody else. People can do whatever they want. I think that broad message is the best part of the campaign, although sometimes it’s also the worst because some people want a clear direction – but there’s actually great value in empowering them to make decisions about where they can make the greatest impact. Overall though, I think the breadth of activity and wide range of organisations involved helps the campaign have such a massive impact.

Howdy partner

Ultimately we want charities to benefit from #givingtuesday. We’ve got almost 2,000 charities involved this year, with both household names and small charities taking part. A lot of the charities that get the most out of the day do so by establishing partnerships with corporations. These partnerships mean that the charity can benefit from a public awareness or fundraising campaign. The corporate partner showcases their partnership by trying to encourage their customer base or staff to get involved, and amplify the reach of that charity’s work. It’s also a nice way for charities to shout about their corporate supporters and the impact that they make.

We’ve only been able to have the success we’ve had because of these sorts of partnerships. RBS are founding partners and do a lot to raise the profile of the campaign amongst their customers and staff, and this year shops such as Morrisons, House of Fraser and the Co-Op are doing in-store promotions on the day. Our aim is to reach people who aren’t normally involved with charities, so that kind of corporate buy-in is key to spreading the word.

It’s in the posts

Social media is crucial for our campaign. It really is the facilitator. One of the key parts of #givingtuesday is providing smaller charities with the resources that help them to overcome those kinds of barriers to information technology. On our website we share a social media resource pack, which gives a number of tips on how people can use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc and how they can amplify their message.

The Charities Aid Foundation runs a number of workshops to help facilitate charities with these tools. For example, we’ve got a ‘How to Make the Most of Social Media’ webinar, so there are lots of free resources there.

It’s so exciting to be involved in something so big. Last year’s #givingtuesday broke the world record for the most amount of money donated online in 24 hours – £48 million and we are hoping to do even more this year. But’s it’s not always about size – one of our key messages is that some of the smallest acts of kindness have the biggest impact and who couldn’t do with a little more positivity in the world?

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