Black Friday and Cyber Monday have already been established as major shopping days in American culture, but an annual event focused on charity is growing in popularity around the world.
The second annual Giving Tuesday, a movement that encourages individuals and organizations to support nonprofit groups by participating in charitable activities, will take place on Tuesday (Dec. 3). Giving Tuesday partner organizations include nonprofits as well as businesses, religious organizations, schools and community groups that are leading projects that will benefit one of the registered charities.
New York's 92nd Street Y partnered with the United Nations Foundation to launch Giving Tuesday last year. Anastasia Dellaccio, who leads outreach and special initiatives for the UN Foundation, told The Christian Post she believes the movement is "starting to take its roots" as a tradition not only in the U.S. but around the world.
Last year more than 2,500 recognized partner organizations from all 50 U.S. states participated in Giving Tuesday, according to the event's website. The number of partners has risen to more than 8,300 this year and, according to Dellaccio, approximately 43 countries are participating.
When asked why the public has responded so positively to the movement, Dellaccio replied: "I really think it's just the fact that it's a day for good, and doing good. You can't help but have it resonate with you, and you can't help but respond to it."
Just one of many ways a person can participate in Giving Tuesday is by donating money to a charitable organization. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and his wife, Melinda, posted a message to the Giving Tuesday website in which they highlighted four charities – Heifer International, World Vision, Save the Children and DonorsChoose.org – out of the thousands that are participating in the event this year.
"Everyone has their own reasons for giving back. For us, it's simply about making the world a more fair and equitable place," they wrote. "We know we were very lucky to grow up where we did, when we did. We believe everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. Those are the values we learned from our families, and they're why we started our foundation."
World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, releases a Gift Catalog each year that allows donors to choose which items they want to donate to those in need.
"Last year's Giving Tuesday brought in $404,454 through the World Vision Gift Catalog, reaching men, women and children in need worldwide," said Gift Catalog Specialist Cheryl DeBruler in a statement. "We've seen the holiday's effectiveness in our donor base and only expect it to grow across all nonprofits – even internationally – especially in the aftermath of recent natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan and severe storms in the U.S. Our world is ready for a big Giving Tuesday this year."
Giving Tuesday's website reports that Blackbaud, a company that provides fundraising software, processed over $10 million in online donations on Giving Tuesday last year – a 53 percent increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2011. Another company, DonorPerfect, saw a 46 percent increase in online donations and a 25 percent increase in the average size of each gift.
In addition to donating money or getting involved, Giving Tuesday organizers are encouraging social media users to spread the word about the event. Participants are encouraged to take an "unselfie" – a photograph of themselves with a caption explaining how or why they are giving this year – and post it to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. More than 2,800 people have also signed up to be Giving Tuesday social media ambassadors, according to Dellaccio.
Aaron Sherinian, vice president of communications and public relations for the UN Foundation, said in a recent Huffington Post blog post that Giving Tuesday is also a good opportunity for parents to teach their children about the importance of giving.
"The positive response to #GivingTuesday from so many people in so many places provides powerful lessons to our children," wrote Sherinian. "It teaches them that despite our different backgrounds, we are bound by a common humanity. It teaches them that while it can be tempting to be cynical and find only bad news all around us, people do care about each other and there is hope for a better tomorrow. And it teaches them that anyone, of any age, can take action and make a difference."