Imagine this: The holiday season is in full swing, and you’re standing in the middle of a department store aisle feeling too warm and just a little bit claustrophobic. Your arms are full of shopping bags stuffed with gifts you can’t quite afford, and you’re shoulder to shoulder with other frazzled shoppers doing the same. In that moment, you have a flash of clarity and think to yourself: What in the world am I doing?
Ever had a moment like this?
Somehow a season ripe with deep spiritual meaning has become repurposed to serve rampant consumerism. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and Giving Tuesday is a great reminder of this.
The Origin of Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y (92nd Street Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association) and the United Nations Foundation as a helpful corrective to post-Thanksgiving consumerism. The big idea is, in a holiday season inspired by generosity and giving, let’s not forget to make charitable donations to nonprofits doing meaningful work in the world.
In a phrase, Giving Tuesday is a reminder to believing folks not to forget that, spiritually, this season is about God’s generosity toward humankind, so let’s also be generous toward others.
Since 2012, Giving Tuesday has picked up momentum. In 2016, Giving Tuesday topped 2015 donations totals by 44 percent with a grand total of $168 million in charitable donations worldwide.
Maybe Giving Tuesday is new news to you, or maybe you’re looking for good ideas to inspire your church toward generosity with your Giving Tuesday campaign. If so, we’ve got you covered.
Here are five creative ways organizations have inspired generosity and spread the word about Giving Tuesday in years past:
1. Give with a whole heart (literally)
In 2015, an online organ donor organization called “ORGANIZE” encouraged people on Giving Tuesday to sign up to become heart donors. Talk about getting to the heart of the matter (har har)!
2. Wage a friendly competition
In 2015, the Cleveland Library waged a fundraising battle against the Baltimore Library to see who could raise the most funds. If the Baltimore Library won, penalties involved the director of the Cleveland Public Library reciting Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a Ravens jersey in the middle of their historic Main Library. If Cleveland lost, CEO Carla Hayden and staff were required to sing “Who Let the Dogs Out” wearing dog masks in the Central Library Main Hall. Everybody loves a little friendly competition, and in the end, everybody wins!
3. Take an “un-selfie” and post it to your social channels
The Michael J. Fox Foundation (for Parkinson’s research) runs an ongoing blog centered on the “un-selfie.” The idea is people share their real-world stories about either living with Parkinson’s or walking alongside loved ones with Parkinson’s by sharing an un-selfie picture of “real life” with Parkinson’s. The blogs tell stories of how Parkinson’s research benefits real people. The un-selfie is a great idea because people love to both give to worthy causes and feel good when they can take credit for it.
4. Ask your friends to match your gift
Remember how viral the “Ice Bucket Challenge” was back in 2014? In case you missed it, the challenge involved taking a video of getting ice water dumped over your head and calling out a friend to either take the ice bucket challenge or donate to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) research as a penalty for failing to comply. The ALS Association reported the Ice Bucket Challenge helped raise $100m. Though these sorts of viral challenges tend to be short lived, they are a great case study in how to effectively spread the word for a cause by going big, selfless, and simple.
5. Give $5, tell 5
Similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, consider challenging your friends on social media to match your gift. A $5 gift may not be much, but tag others with a challenge to match your gift and pass on your challenge. Before you know it, the donations snowball, and you’ve helped raise awareness about your cause of choice.
What’s the Big Idea?
The big idea around Giving Tuesday is generosity. God has been generous to us, and as image bearers, we’re privileged to be creatively generous ourselves. Because Giving Tuesday is a uniquely mobile phenomenon, think about how you can best use mobile tactics to stay organized and get your message out to as many people as possible.