#GivingTuesday turns two years old this year and in that short time span it has already become a part of the cultural landscape. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday. Last year, the effort took even the organizers by surprise by raising over $10 million for over 2,500 nonprofit organizations.
The phenomenal success of #GivingTuesday isn't just a reflection of the genius of its founder Henry Timms (who is helping us all envision a giving season rather than just a day or a month for giving) it is the hashtag. A hashtag is the organizing symbol for an online conversation, and those conversations, unlike top-down press releases, are wide-open playing fields for the co-generation of creative ideas.
Of course, giving a donation is critically important and when we can we should. However, it's not the only way to give. #GivingTuesday is also a vibrant mosaic for interesting ways to donate ideas and compassion. Here are three examples:
The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, is a residential home for over 10,000 older New Yorkers. Their #GivingTuesday campaign asks us to send one word about a benefit that comes with age. Maybe it's respect or wisdom or pride. The words will be incorporated into a hand-crafted quilt created by the Home's residents. (Note: I am an adviser to the Hebrew Home)
Phoenix House is a national residential treatment program for people with addictions. They are coordinating a letter writing campaign for people to write letters of encouragement to the Phoenix House participants.
VivaDressUp, a philanthropic fashion company, asks people to donate their old formal clothes, that old prom or bridesmaid dress, to be resold and the proceeds donated to a variety of causes.
#GivingTuesday recognizes the power of individuals to create pathways to giving creatively beyond writing a check. This is just one more building block in our budding giving economy that enables us to participate in causes that celebrate our creativity as well as our generosity.