How Brands Can Make Giving Tuesday Stick

As Black Friday makes way for Giving Tuesday, we asked Lisa Bowman–the Chief Marketing Officer of United Way Worldwide–to share her thoughts on how brands can use this day as a springboard to create real, long-lasting impact the whole year round. Here’s what she shared with us.

As Black Friday makes way for Giving Tuesday, we asked Lisa Bowman–the Chief Marketing Officer of United Way Worldwide–to share her thoughts on how brands can use this day as a springboard to create real, long-lasting impact the whole year round. Here’s what she shared with us.

In an era marked by a plethora of “Hallmark Holidays” and newly-minted days of recognition (Cyber Monday?), one could be forgiven for wondering if Giving Tuesday is in fact a real thing and what it’s all about.

The author Lisa Bowman (center) with a team of volunteers from UPS at a United Way event in Washington, D.C. for Project Homeless Connect

After all, don’t we give on the 25th of December each year, even if it’s not a Tuesday? Don’t we give for eight days during Hanukkah, one of which is always guaranteed to be a Tuesday? Don’t we give during the weeklong Kwanzaa celebration that always includes a Tuesday? (We won’t count Festivus–the Christmas alternative made popular by Seinfeld character George Costanza–that sometimes falls on a Tuesday.)

So why Giving Tuesday? Why is the Tuesday after US Thanksgiving different than any other? Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 when two organizations–the 92nd Street Y in New York and the United Nations Foundation–came together with the intention of setting aside a day to celebrate the generous American tradition of giving. More than just a punchy social hashtag, #GivingTuesday is a movement designed to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season. Each year, nonprofits, small businesses, brands, schools and religious organizations the world over celebrate this global day of giving, providing a platform upon which we selflessly gift to others whom we will likely never meet with a donation to a non-profit, or towards a specific cause being championed by a brand.

Lisa Bowman

The impact of Giving Tuesday cannot be overstated. Last year’s edition saw more than $380 million raised, a 38% increase from 2017’s efforts. More than 150 countries participated and the buzz led to 14.2 billion social media impressions.

From a brand perspective, Giving Tuesday is a really fun thing to take part in because, as brand marketers, we hold our marks sacred. But this day, with it’s cross-hatched heart icon, provides a great opportunity not only to express one’s philanthropic desires but also to integrate those marks for larger impact.

There are many ways to give and many ways for brands to provide opportunities for our eco-systems to engage. You can give financially. You can donate your time and skills. Goods are often accepted, and voices can be raised to affect the greater good.

It’s critical for brands to promote causes that are somehow linked to (or at least intuitive to) the business. It should have legs to tie to your overarching CSR strategy to keep participants engaged year-round. It’s OK to make it a small ask–after all, this time of year is busy for so many of us with wrapping up business and tending to our personal gifting.

As Giving Tuesday arrives on December 3, be sure to find a variety of resources on the official Giving Tuesday site. Take a look. Get inspired. Join the party. It lasts just one day but it can provide meaning and ROI that lasts all year long.

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