‘Giving Tuesday’ Gains Momentum Here, Nationally

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and with the holiday spirit kicking in, today is “Giving Tuesday,” when organizations around the world urge anyone and everyone to give something back to their communities.

“Whether it’s a monetary donation or through time and talent – how you give back doesn’t matter – Giving Tuesday is all about giving something back to causes you care about,” says Shari Harrell, president of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley. “It’s time to reconnect yourself with things that are really important. Giving gifts is great. Spending money is great. Supporting local businesses is great. But we also need to think about the needs that others have in our community.”

Many nonprofit groups in the area are accepting donations, such as The Salvation Army and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul, and numerous nonprofits are in the midst of fundraising campaigns. Among them are Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society and United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley.

Participating in Giving Tuesday can be simple, Harrell adds, and doesn’t require a grand gesture.

“It can be something as simple as picking up an extra gift and dropping it off somewhere,” she says. “It can be a cause that you care about – maybe animal shelters or helping the homeless – and there are plenty of charities across the Valley. And if you need an idea, you can always contact us.”

National organizations are also sharing the giving spirit. PayPal is matching 1% of all donations as it attempts to set a Guinness world record for most money donated online for charity in 24 hours. Goodshop.com is donating a percentage of each purchase to the charities each shopper selects.

The first Giving Tuesday took place in 2012 as a joint venture between the 92nd Street Y (not affiliated with the YMCA) in New York City and the United Nations Foundation, along with partners such as Skype, Cisco, Microsoft and Sony. That year, some $10 million was donated through nonprofit management software company Blackbaud. In 2014, the number jumped to $45.7 million through five donation platforms – Blackbaud, DonorPerfect, GlobalGiving, Network for Good and Razoo.

“From that modest start in 2012 to where we are today, the movement has exploded because people really understandthat the giving season should be about giving just as much or more than its is about buying or shopping,” says Jamie McDonald, chief giving officer at Network for Good.

This year, McDonald says, she expects more than 70 countries will be involved, “millions of givers, tens of thousands of nonprofits, lots of civic campaigns, lots of volunteerism and lots of people doing kind deeds for each other.”

In the Youngstown area, Harrell says, the response to Giving Tuesday can be seen as a continuation of the Valley’s heritage.

“Our Valley has always been generous. There are people who have given gifts and supported organizations throughout our history,” she says. “This is just another way that we can highlight giving back.”

The Community Foundation broadcast public service announcements on WFMJ that featured local leaders and philanthropists who promoted the day. At United Way, social media has been a big factor in promoting this year’s event, with routine Facebook and Twitter posts.

“This year we’re taking an active role in Giving Tuesday and trying to get the word out,” says Roxann Sebest, its director of marketing and communications.

New this year to United Way is a text-to-donate program where contributors can contribute by texting “educate” to 91999. DC Wellness will match all donations, Sebest adds.

Social media has been responsible for much of the awareness of Giving Tuesday, McDonald notes, pointing out that about 20% of Americans say they’ve heard of the day. But the day has begun to move beyond just online postings and donations.

At the Community Foundation, Harrell says the holiday season sees an uptick in giving, although not all of it is related to Giving Tuesday.

“At year-end and around the holidays, we do see an increase in giving, the creation of funds, the addition to funds and the distributions from people who want to give gifts,” she says.

And although Giving Tuesday is already upon us, it’s not too late get involved, either as a nonprofit or as a citizen, McDonald urges.

“You can absolutely reach out [today]. It’s in the news cycle, so nonprofits can jump in and try to share an inspiring story and find a base of supporters,” she says.

“3 Minutes With” Shari Harrell, Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.