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Brady Josephson Headshot

Why I Hate #GivingTuesday

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Yes I said I hate #GivingTuesday. Before you call me a charity curmudgeon let me first say that I love the fact that there is a day now set aside for philanthropy that is attempting to offset the greed and consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now let the curmudgeonning begin and allow me to explain why I hate #GivingTuesday.

Because it's not about the donor. And fundraising that's not about the donor is bad fundraising. So we end up with day full of bad fundraising.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are wildly effective for marketing and sales because they add value to the consumer (yes, even with the chaos, the crowds and the crazies). The basic purchasing equation for consumers is calculating the value being offered through the product or service compared to the cost needed to acquire that product and service. The more value and/or the less cost the better. This is something companies embrace and some like Amazon even use charitable tactics to boost their sales.

In the days and months leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday brands are doing what they can to make consumers aware of the value of their products and services (not all are effective granted but that's what they are trying to do). And when the day comes around brands roll out their super sales, cutting costs and offering all those door crasher special deals. Is there more value? Perhaps. There is definitely reduced costs and the end result is a great purchasing opportunity for the consumer.

Bringing it back to charity, what is it about #GivingTuesday that adds value to the donor? From what I've seen in my inbox and on social media I'd have to say nothing.

Are organizations spending time building up their value to donors leading up to #GivingTuesday with stories, reports and information about their cause and their organizations work? Perhaps. I will say I'm suddenly hearing a lot from organizations that have been telling me very little over the past three months.

And what is in these #GivingTuesday appeals and communications? A great new story? A special giving opportunity that I can be a part of to do something powerful, unique or impactful? Again, generally speaking, no. They are cash grab emails. Give today. Donate now. Make your donation. Why you might ask? Well... uh... because it's #GivingTuesday seems to be the response.

See I hate #GivingTuesday because it exposes so brutally how we fundraisers think about marketing to our donors because we make the day all about us and forget that it's actually all about them. We think we can catch on to the consumerism vibe and communicate our causes to donors in the same way people peddle flat panel TV's. If only. At least those flat panel TV appeals are providing value to their customers. Are charities offering more value on #GivingTuesday? It doesn't seem like it. In fact, it seems as though some aren't even trying.

So our for-profit marketing brethren are providing more value to their customers in their lowest state of door crashing, price slashing glory then charities offer on our "day for giving back." Sad.

And it is sad because I don't want to hate #GivingTuesday. I want to celebrate the amazing work of organizations, donors, companies and people who are fighting to change our world for the better each and every day.

I want to see #GivingTuesday become a day that trumps Cyber Monday in what people get excited for and participate in.

I want to see #GivingTuesday be so awesome that people start giving on random Wednesdays, and Thursday afternoons because they can experience the joy, happiness, power and impact that giving to charities can bring.

I want to see #GivingTuesday produce stampedes of violent people battling one another so they can be the first to make a donation... okay, that's a little much. But I want to see a #GivingTuesday that is as powerful and meaningful as it should be.

So let's work towards that. The journey to an awesome #GivingTuesday in 2014 starts now.

Charities need to start telling more stories, sharing their impact and communicating with donors. Today. They need to understand what donors want, how they act and what is meaningful to them. Today. They need to inspire, motivate and support people. Today. And donors need to start demanding all of that from the organizations they support. Today.

That's how #GivingTuesday becomes awesome and something I won't hate. That's how it becomes something we can be proud of. And most importantly, that's how it becomes something donors will love.