imageOn Thanksgiving Thursday, we ate. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we shopped. And on #GivingTuesday, we gave.  And in all these cases, the emergence of the social web is amplifying our abilities in each of them!

The #GivingTuesday national charitable movement was started by the U.N. Foundation in 2012 as the nonprofit sector’s answer to the buying bonanza that dominates Thanksgiving Day weekend as the lead-in to holiday shopping. #GivingTuesday was established to mobilize charities, businesses and individuals to take collaborative action to improve their local communities by donating to the charities and causes they support, especially among those most actively engaged in social media – the millennial generation. 

Individuals are encouraged to give to the organization of their choice and then share their actions on the social web to spread the word and encourage others to follow their example. The inaugural launch of #GivingTuesday in 2012 garnered 2.5 million social media impressions and the Giving Tuesday hashtag was mentioned  over 185,000 times, resulting in significant national and international trending. In 2012, #GivingTuesday received over 800 press hits, equating to over 59 million impressions.

The preliminary results for 2013 are even stronger according to Blackbaud, the nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday’s partner, suggesting that this movement is not just another passing fad:

  • Online donations were up 90% for 3,800 nonprofits as tracked by Blackbaud compared to 2012, and it processed more than $19.2 million in online donations in 2013, as compared to $10.1 million in 2012. 

  • The average online donation was $142.05, which was significantly higher than the $101.60 average amount given in 2012.

  • Blackbaud maintains that this builds upon the solid end-of-year giving season last year, when online giving outpaced retail e-commerce growth by over 4%.

These preliminary results, combined with the surge of Facebook posts, tweets, #unselfie uploads and press hits surrounding #GivingTuesday clearly indicate the economic impact that the millennial generation wields. The following conclusions are too important to ignore:

  • Social Business is more critical than ever before and goes well beyond social media. Organizations that do not change and adapt for the multichannel world in which the majority of their customers and donors live will struggle in the long-term. This shift goes beyond technology. Organizations must recognize changes in donor and customer behavior that will reward some companies and organizations at the expense of others. Businesses that do not have an effective online strategy which includes social attributes, such as charitable fundraising, will miss out.

  • In tune with what we have seen from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the millennial generation has an exponentially increasing economic impact. While many millennials may not have the income to donate significant amounts to the organizations they are passionate about, they have the desire and the connectivity to support them in unexpected ways and serve as ideal brand ambassadors. They value being connected to their personal networks and they want to share the causes they care about with friends and colleagues and expand their influence in positive directions. Rather than “selfies,” one of the many “selfish” things the millennial generation is known for, thousands of millennials posted “#unselfies” on social media that depicted them supporting worthwhile causes. The #unselfie spread like wildfire on the web with countless Instagram pages, Facebook posts and tweets and also served as a free marketing campaign for the #GivingTuesday movement.

  • Crowdfunding is a true enabler in the digital age. With an Internet connection and a few dollars to spare, bettering the world is literally now at one’s fingertips as more organizations look for ways to crowdsource global advancement. Crowdfunding sites such as Indiegogo, Fundly and Crowdvance are empowering people and organizations – from mayors in small towns to major corporations and charities of all sizes – by providing them with an effective, efficient tool to increase awareness, mobilize a broader base of supporters and drive real results from their followers. The digital platform is attracting millennial do-gooders, who are tech savvy and who would rather donate their money with a click of a button instead of a written check, and value instantaneous gratification and interaction, albeit digitally rather than personally (besides, how many millennials even have stamps and envelopes and use snail mail?).

Regardless of the monetary results, #GivingTuesday is clearly building relationships with socially conscious donors and potentially all those who are online friends and followers of such donors, which can translate into greater awareness and success for businesses associated with charitable organizations. The future will be shaped and funded in large part by the millennial generation as it matures. The real payoff will be if organizations can focus on relationship building with the tech savvy millennial generation and retain their support long term.

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