What is Giving Tuesday and where to start

In this video, we discuss how to create and plan an effective Giving Tuesday campaign for 2021 and beyond. We explore the history of Giving Tuesday, how it's organized and how to start one in your organization. We also talk about why it's importantly to start campaign planning early, budget requirements. Finally, we also touch on how to scale and maximize your Giving Tuesday campaigns as well as how to get involved at an individual level.

This is Part 1 of our 2-Part series on What to know How to get started with Giving Tuesday.

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Part 2: Giving Tuesday campaign ideas to get inspired by

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Karl Yeh:

So today I'm joined by Margaret Bjork, director of Goodness Solutions with Benevity. And we're going to talk about Giving Tuesday, and this is actually part one of our two part series on Giving Tuesday. So Margaret, let's start right at the beginning.

What is Giving Tuesday? How did it begin?

Margaret Bjork:

So, so good to be here with everyone.

Giving Tuesday is like my absolute favorite day of the year. [00:01:00]

I would say it's like the Superbowl of goodness. And it started really not that long ago. So in 2012, the 92 Street Y New York City kind of was recognizing that the world was like pretty glum.

I mean, so if you imagine the recession was 2008, things really had not gotten better. And so they created what's called Giving Tuesday. [00:01:30] And so if you think about it, there's Black Friday, which we all and my kids think is a holiday, which is alarming.

And then there's Cyber Monday, which came around in 2000. And now in 2012, we've come up with Giving Tuesday.

And so in that same spirit of let's, instead of just spending money and commercialism, which we love, let's also [00:02:00] use that time of year and harness this energy around doing some good.

And so, it really started as a grassroots thing. They didn't really think much was going to happen.

They kind of thought it would kind of focus around New York and it really was a call to action to donate, volunteer, do something good, and talk about it in a digital format.

So this was born in a digital [00:02:30] scope and has always been a kind of a digital campaign. And that first year, I think they raised about $1 million.

And every year from there, it just grows and grows and grows. Like oftentimes, it doubles.

So where we are today.

In 2020, last year, $2.5 billion were raised in one day. 88 countries participated, at least that's with Benevity, I think 125 participated with all [00:03:00] countries around the globe. And it is just, like I said at the beginning, the Superbowl of goodness,

Karl Yeh:

Is there like an organization called Giving Tuesday that kind of is the central part, or is it just the collective of all these people wanting to do good on Tuesday, that it just happens?

Who leads or organizes Giving Tuesday?

Margaret Bjork:

Again, it started with the Y, but since then it has now it's own home, [00:03:30] and it's Givingtuesday.org, which is just an unbelievable resource explaining how to participate and giving you tools to use it.

That being said, Givingtuesday.org is not raising money for itself.

Its point is to amplify and help just bring attention to the day.

And what's kind of great about Giving Tuesday is that it's not something, we have awareness days [00:04:00] around key issues, Giving Tuesday is like a free for all.

Like it is like your chance to raise your flag and say, "Pick me, pick me." And everybody gets to choose who they personally want to support with their time, their money, or their talents.

Karl Yeh:

So let's say we're brand new CSR professional in an organization, and we want to set up a Giving Tuesday program. How do we go about doing that?

How to start a Giving Tuesday campaign or program?

Margaret Bjork:

Okay. So the first [00:04:30] thing I'm going to tell you is start early.

Because oftentimes, by the time somebody thinks about Giving Tuesday, it's like November and giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

And so by that time, honestly, it's like a little too late to pull a corporate campaign.

Giving Tuesday itself is super scrappy and you could do it like in the next 20 minutes. Like you could set up a campaign and run it, but we all know that corporate communications [00:05:00] don't really love that philosophy.

And so in a corporate environment, I would say start in August.And the reason why I say this is because you are competing internally with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

So if you're a company who sells hammers and all sorts of things, all of your resources are going to be going, all your marketing, your creative, and are all going to be going to those kind of campaign.

So as a CSR team, you're going to need to just kind [00:05:30] of think about like, how are we going to fit in here and not distract, but amplify and be kind of this counter event that isn't necessarily taking away from any of these other really important things, but is instead of selling product, you're selling hearts and minds on Giving Tuesday.

Karl Yeh:

So that's a good place to kind of unravel that because there's a couple of areas I want to go in. 

And the first one is how [00:06:00] come all the way back in August, because if you think of about Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the planning of that. 

Now I would imagine is a couple of months back, or several months back, but to plan for Giving Tuesday all the way back in August, why would you start that early?

Why start planning for Giving Tuesday campaigns early?

Margaret Bjork:

And honestly, I'm not like a marketing person, but I would say by the time people really start to think about it, it's too late.

Because I think by the time you socialize an issue, if this is your first [00:06:30] time doing a program around Giving Tuesday, you're going to need to get buy in.

And you're going to have to socialize with marketing with your C-suite.

And again, kind of just make the case that this is something that's good to be doing. It's going to compliment. It's going to support the business.

And in my experience, those conversations just take awhile. And in order to make sure that you can get budget to get some creative and get ambassadors involved.

And so maybe that's a good place for us to [00:07:00] pause and just say, what does a good Giving Tuesday campaign look like? And then we can kind of figure out what's best for your company.

Again, a lot of companies can turn on a dime, but there's plenty that can't.

Karl Yeh:

And when we're talking about, so from a Giving Tuesday perspective, obviously it depends on what business you're in. I was thinking there's a Giving Tuesday component internally.

And if your business is front-facing, there is a Giving Tuesday component externally, right? So [00:07:30] I guess which one would be easier to start with if you're just starting off?

Margaret Bjork:

I think that's a great question.

And the beauty about Giving Tuesday is it's like incredibly broad and allows you to kind of start and live wherever you want.

So for example, if it feels easier to start that internally, then start there.

If it feels easier to say we're going to do something externally, I would start there.

Karl Yeh:

Yeah. [00:08:00] So when we talk about, I guess, you touched on it a bit and you were talking about budget. Is there a requirement for a budget?

Is it just as simple as maybe sending several emails? Like, do you need a program for this? Like how do you start that process in your organization?

Budget requirements to starting a Giving Tuesday campaign

Margaret Bjork:

So again, what I would do is there are so many guides around Giving Tuesday.

We put out Giving Tuesday guides. Giving [00:08:30] Tuesday puts out Giving Tuesday guides, tons of other partners do.

And so I would say, look at what the companies... If you're a company, look at what the companies that you admire are doing, and you're going to be easily be able to find that on our website or their website to see what great campaigns look like.

If you're a nonprofit, I would say look at it through that lens.

If you're simply an individual who wants to use Giving Tuesday to amplify and [00:09:00] promote causes that you want, there's also places on Givingtuesday.org for individuals.

And so I would say it does not require a budget by any means. And especially your first year, you might not use a budget.

So you simply can really just say, this is the day that I'm going to brag on the cause or the area of social impact that I care [00:09:30] about it.

Giving Tuesday Unselfie

All you need, for example, is Giving Tuesday puts out these templates called an Unselfie.

And so, what a lot of people do is simply fill this out with what they're going to do that day. And they put that up on their different social media, whether that's LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter, wherever you want to do that.

And you can put right there in the text and say, I'm supporting... I made one earlier today and you can see how high budget it is. [00:10:00] Here we go.

I'm supporting Pinky Swear for pediatric cancer.

And I put their website. And I hate my handwriting.

I am not a graphic designer, but you know what? I love Pinky Swear more than I hate those things.

And I am going to put that up on social media and it doesn't really matter what it says and if you can't read it because I'm going to put it in the text and I'm going to [00:10:30] put a link and I'm going to use the hashtag Giving Tuesday 2021.

And I think one of the biggest things is encouraging people just to do it, just to express yourself, have your kids be involved. Hey kids, who do you care about?

Gosh, I care about the environment. I care about what is happening to single parents during COVID. Okay, well, let's put that on an unselfie.

As [00:11:00] a company, again, this is just a template that is like super easy.

You can find it on Givingtuesday.org.

All you got to do. I'm not a graphic designer.

I can cut and paste a logo, but now you have your logo. You have the Giving Tuesday logo and you're going to use the hashtag.

And so that way we're going to be able to track it.

Karl Yeh:

So Margaret, I guess the next question, and everything goes to this.

So let's say you started a Giving Tuesday campaign in your company.

Things are going well. How do you go about maximizing it?

I guess, like how do you go about getting, let's say, we'll start with internal.

How do get all these people... And you described some of the ways to do it, but are there any more tactics that you can get to [00:12:00] really amplify and get people excited and passionate about it?

How to scale and maximize Giving Tuesday participation

Margaret Bjork: 

And this is something I think Giving Tuesday was like the OG of is of the authentic influencer.

I mean, it is absolutely amazing if you could get a celebrity or your CEO or important people at your company to do this, but this is more important to have people who are your internal influencers or your customers [00:12:30] that just talk about your brand authentically.

And so, this is the time to involve your ERGs, your employee resource groups.

And as well as the people... If you're thinking like who are influencers?

These are your employees that if their kid was sick or they were sick or their spouse was sick, that they would have 15 casseroles on their desk.

I'm from Minnesota. So our love language is casserole. I don't [00:13:00] know what it is regionally in your region, but that's how we show love.

That's also true, I also lived in South Carolina for 15 years. That was also our love language.

So find these people, that when they say something, people listen.

And that doesn't mean they listen because they're important or they're executive vice-president.

They listen because they're nice, they're educated about a topic and they share that. So this is the time to get those people and then start to have them [00:13:30] grab some more people.

And be the first person, maybe not even on Giving Tuesday, maybe on Monday or the Friday before, they put up their Unselfie.

And they start to show like, look, my handwriting's kind of weird too.

And I'm willing to tell the world that I support this cause.

These are truly acts of courage to be able to show and express these things. And it's hard for most people.

[00:14:00] So by kind of saying... And that's where that incentive really comes in.

If you're willing to put yourself out there and give an hour or help amplify this, we'll give you $10 to donate. That's where that kind of like...

When you go for that moment where you're like, ooh, I don't know. I think my hair looks weird today. I don't know if I want to take a picture. I don't know if I want to do this.

You having examples of other people who have done it, and other ways that they're doing. We've seen a lot of people go like this. [00:14:30]

Hey, I didn't get my hair and makeup done. I don't have to show my face.

And so, finding those influencers and getting a team involved, ask them what they think would work with their audiences.

Karl Yeh:

And we actually did a great video on workplace giving that you can check out here and I'll leave in description below.


So I guess we talked about it from a company side, we talked about from the CSR side.

Let's just be very simple, if I wanted [00:15:00] to donate in terms of Giving Tuesday from just a personal level, and let's say, my company's not involved with it at all.

Is it something just going to any cause and doing it and just putting the hashtag, is that sort of the usual way to do this?

How to participate in Giving Tuesday as an individual

Margaret Bjork:

It's truly as simple as that.

If you care about Pinky Swear or you care about Grows Academy, or you care about American Heart, all of these nonprofits have invested a great deal of money into their digital tools to [00:15:30] make online giving. You can do it on your phone.

Many of them you can text to give.

And then, the important part is to do it, is to give, to express yourself, to feel that you're a part of the movement, but what's helpful.

And I know it goes against most people's humbleness.

Again, I'm in Minnesota, being like reserved and humble is kind of our nature.

It really feels [00:16:00] kind of icky sometimes to brag that I just donated, or I volunteered, but it's not...

If you can think of it as it's not a moment where we are bragging about ourselves, we are bragging about like our warriors, our goodness warriors, which are nonprofits, which work with limited budgets, limited resources.

And this is the day that they are the celebrity.

And so if you can like put your own [00:16:30] personal being reserved aside and help amplify them this day, and using those tracking tools like a hashtag, it's so helpful because then they get promoted. And this whole day gets viral.

During the Giving Tuesday, every news segment that you'll watch is going to be featured with Giving Tuesday campaigns.

And so there's so many ways to like get this picture more on the NASDAQ screen [00:17:00] in... What do you call that? Time Square, all day.

You're going to see Unselfie's of regular people.

And so if we can track it, then we can start to understand. And as companies, you can start to say like, hey, where did people give to?

Holy smokes, what we saw at Benevity this year, in particular, after the murder of George Floyd, was the giving to diverse organizations went through the roof.

Karl Yeh: Is there anything else you'd like to add in terms of [00:17:30] Giving Tuesday?

Margaret Bjork:

So I would say the other thing to do is we talked about getting influencers involved.

And again, on Giving Tuesday, influencers are regular people.

If you can get somebody who's a celebrity, that's amazing.

Do it.

I wouldn't necessarily pay for it, but if they are authentically ready to support you, they're always wonderful.

But I would say this is also a time to find a partner.

So again, maybe your ERGs, [00:18:00] employee resource groups, pick a particular partner that they want to work with.

We see a lot of people, United Health Group, T-Mobile, a lot of people do Feeding America.

Again, thinking around Thanksgiving, around the end of the year.

And food banks often like really need a lot of help during that time and Feeding America's a great big national organization and knows how to support this.

So the other thing is, is your CSR department might be new to digital.

Non- [00:18:30] profits are not new to digital. Like this is their game.

If you think about early days happened with the tsunami, then Haiti, then ice bucket challenge, and Harvey, and ongoing. Like they know how to make lightning strike.

And so make sure you're asking them, they might have all the creative, they might be able to run this thing for you.

But if you were already preparing to give Feeding America [00:19:00] or a nonprofit partner some grant dollars, maybe say, hey, let's use those as a match instead, or let's figure out...

Or maybe they have a big donor that was like, "We were going to give this money anyways." Like, "Hey, could we use your money to match the employees at this company?"

And these all sound a little complicated, but we have the very detailed out and we're so happy to talk to [00:19:30] you about them.

So if you want to think about it, please reach out to any of us who are directors of Goodness Solutions, because this is kind of our jam.

And we would love to talk to you about it.

Karl Yeh:

So if you want to learn more about Giving Tuesday, we've got a great video here, as well as our other tips and strategies on developing growing your CSR program.

Thanks for watching. And I'll see you in our next episode.

Question for you

Have you ever done a Giving Tuesday campaign in your organization? What are some of your learnings? 


About Margaret Bjork:

Margaret has worked to power good through technology for over 20 years. Starting as a practitioner in the nonprofit community, and then working for companies who provided the technology to nonprofits and corporations use to run their fundraising, employee engagement, HR, and digital marketing programs. Margaret helps her clients find ways to operationalize goodness so that it is easy and scalable to combine Profit and Purpose and create engaging programs for their employees, consumers, and communities.

Connect with Margaret on Linkedin