It’s approaching that time of year again. The holiday shopping season, with the massive retail marketing campaigns surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, will be the industry’s final major push in an attempt to turn consumer confidence around and inspire spending.
Over the past two years, companies have seen the potential social media — communication through Facebook and Twitter, for example — has for spreading messages. Combining social media with the retain establishment’s desire to separate the public with their money results in monstrosities like American Express’s Small Business Saturday: a thinly veiled attempt to encourage mom-and-pop merchants to accept the more expensive American Express card disguised as moral support for family-run, small businesses on “Main Street.”
The 92nd Street Y (sometimes known as just 92Y in today’s LOL BRB L8R world), a non-profit community and cultural center based in New York City, is taking the theme of the “shopping holiday” — Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Small Business Saturday — and using the same approach to encourage the public to think about giving. You can view charity as an industry just like retail; even non-profit organizations need to make money and pay their employees. Here is an opportunity, however, to use a major social media campaign to encourage charitable contributions as a way to help society around you rather than just lining the pockets of retail CEOs, major shareholders and equity partners, and Wall Street’s bankers, the real goal of “shopping holidays.”
92Y has created Giving Tuesday (or #GivingTuesday, as marketers tend to be on a hash-tagization kick lately), and the campaign is scheduled to culminate on Tuesday, November 27. The day will be “one powerful national day of giving, raising funds and awareness for important causes everywhere.” Charitable causes have been an important part of my approach to personal finances from the beginning.
- My first major job out of college was with a non-profit organization that relied on donors’ contributions.
- I’ve always been involved in the arts, an genre of the human experience that doesn’t always translate to profitable businesses.
- In the past, when I had more time than I had money, I donated my time to important causes. With less extra time, my focus shifted to contributing money, but this may shift again with my ability to focus on both.
- With Consumerism Commentary, I’ve tried to encourage a charitable approach to life through projects like Financial Literacy Challenge and matching charity campaigns scheduled around the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, much like Giving Tuesday.
- I’m looking for opportunities to sit on the board of directors for a non-profit organization whose mission is meaningful to me.
- I’m considering plans to start a foundation or non-profit organization within the next few years.
Giving Tuesday seems to be in the earliest planning stage. 92Y is looking for other non-profit organizations as well as corporations, communities, and individuals who are interested in the idea. I’ll be following Giving Tuesday to see whether well-known corporations and brands are willing to get behind such an endeavor. Large corporations often have the possibility and the capability of creating their own powerful giving campaigns.
Chase Community Giving is one such example. A division of J.P. Morgan Chase, Chase Community Giving allows customers to nominate charities deserving of grants from the company. During several periods throughout the year, the public can vote using Facebook for the charities most deserving. In the spring of 2011, several non-profit organizations I’d worked with previously were competing with each other for a slice of a $5 million grant from Chase. One of the organizations walked away with a $200,000 grant for its youth-oriented programs. The organization’s social media marketing skills played a significant role in their winning the grant.
Charitable contributions, like many other aspects of business and society, are going social and mobile. Giving Tuesday has the right idea, and it will be interesting to see if it catches on over the next three months.
Updated August 27, 2012 and originally published August 24, 2012.