#GivingTuesday And a New Era of Philanthropy

11/01/2013 10:05 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

We are living in a new era of philanthropy. It's no longer just about big wealth. It's about big impact. And there's a new day on the calendar to prove that this bold new era of giving is here to stay: #GivingTuesday.

Along with thousands of partners -- from big companies to small nonprofits to universities -- we're helping transform Tuesday, December 3, 2013 into the second annual #GivingTuesday, a day to kick off the holiday giving season and usher in a new way of thinking about giving. On the heels of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, people around the world are dedicating a day to philanthropy and service.

We've heard from a range of partners -- charities large and small, nationwide retailers to local shopkeepers, parent bloggers to young people to faith groups -- who are deeply involved in solving problems and want to help put the "giving" back into the giving season. They are leveraging new tools like social media to become smarter fundraisers with both their donors and advocates. With these same tools, they are also finding ways to encourage people to donate time and support and to spread the word to their friends and family, write their elected officials, and organize events.

The lesson they've taught us is clear: In this new era, anyone can be a philanthropist.You don't have to be a billionaire or a world leader to make a difference, you just have to care about a cause and be willing to get involved. And from our experience and the hard proof of data, people are eager to get involved.

As the holiday season approaches, these same groups around the country are tapping into this enthusiasm to help "get out the give" this holiday season around #GivingTuesday. They are inviting people to make a donation or donate an hour in their local communities to support issues as big as global poverty, as nearby as community shelters, and as urgent as humanitarian and disaster relief.

Anyone, anywhere can participate in any way they want -- whether it's donating money, volunteering time or raising awareness of a cause. Already, more than 3,700 partners have joined the movement. Unilever will hold an employee food drive. United Way will encourage people to become mentors and tutors in their communities. And Discover will provide a 2 percent match to designated charitable partners when cardmembers make a donation to them. InterAction, the largest group of NGOs dedicated to global issues, are rallying their members to make donations and catalyze action.

Organizations everywhere are using #GivingTuesday as a way to challenge traditional perceptions about what donors can do beyond and in addition to the important act of writing a check. This is one of the most significant lessons we are learning from the #GivingTuesday movement. Philanthropy is already an important force for good. But when paired with strong partnerships and innovative advocacy efforts, catalytic philanthropy is changing the way that people can be the drivers of positive change today.

As the saying goes, while no one can do everything, we can all do something -- and together, small actions can add up to big impact. Last year's #GivingTuesday drove action and donations for the causes that matter to millions. Leading organizations in the charitable sector including Blackbaud, Network for Good and Donor Perfect shared data pointing to more than a 50 percent increase in online giving on #GivingTuesday 2012 compared with the same day the previous year.

The movement continues to grow. The number of partners since last year has already increased by more than 1,200, and the initiative has gone global with the participation of organizations in Australia, Canada, Mexico and Singapore. The United Nations Development Programme is also involved, helping the initiative reach around the world.

At its core, #GivingTuesday is about empowering people to be drivers of peace and progress. Together we are creating a new holiday tradition is rooted in the beliefs that so many people across the world share: that we are united by our common humanity, that we have a responsibility to lift each other up, and that each of us can do something historic to create lasting change.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in celebration of #GivingTuesday, which will take place this year (2013) on December 3. The idea behind #GivingTuesday is to kickoff the holiday-giving season, in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday kickoff the holiday-shopping season. We'll feature at least one post from a #GivingTuesday partner every weekday in November. To see all the posts in the series, click here; follow the conversation via #GivingTuesdayand learn more here.

And if you'd like to share your own #GivingTuesday story, please send us your 500-850-word post to