Giving Tuesday: a Q&A

151113-Year-End-Print-CoverMove aside Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s time for Giving Tuesday.

Since 2012, the growing movement known as Giving Tuesday has captured worldwide attention- and scrutiny. This year’s Giving Tuesday promises to be the biggest one yet. So what’s really behind the hype?

Question:  Is Giving Tuesday just a gimmick, a trend that will fade fast?

In just three years, Giving Tuesday has grown from a U.S. grassroots effort to an international movement celebrating generosity.  Last year, more than 20,000 nonprofits from 68 countries took to social media on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to kick off the annual holiday giving season. They celebrated their donors and encouraged contributions of time, talent and treasure to their causes.  The response was impressive, with an estimated $45.7 million raised on that day alone.

Some argue that the excitement around Giving Tuesday will burn out as donors become fatigued and people get bored with the novelty. However, the scale and fast growth of Giving Tuesday can mask the fact that there are other, local giving days dedicated to increasing awareness of issues, raising funds, and engaging people in their communities. For example, the North Texas Giving Day raised $33.1 million for over 2,000 local nonprofits on September 17, 2015. Similar giving days have cropped up in other areas of the country, such as Colorado and Pittsburgh. The Council on Foundations encourages community foundations everywhere to consider hosting a giving day and even provides resources to help with planning.

Question: Does Giving Tuesday take away from donations made on other days?

Research by our colleagues at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy shows that Giving Tuesday gifts account for a larger and larger percentage of total year-end giving. However, Giving Tuesday has also been shown to positively influence the number of donations given and the number of nonprofits receiving donations. In 2012, for example, Giving Tuesday increased the total amount of contributions that organizations studied received during the year. “It’s a case of a rising tide lifts all boats,” says Steve MacLaughlin, director of the Idea Lab at Blackbaud. “When you have that much awareness being generated and nonprofits latching onto it and personalizing it, that creates a very powerful combination that we really only ever see with major disasters and political election cycles.”

Question: Why and how is Giving Tuesday effective?

As our founding executive director Kat Rosqueta recently explained during an NPR interview, “There’s nothing like a great deadline that really focuses people’s attention. They’re kind of borrowing a page from some commercial activities – Black Friday and Cyber Monday.” That focus contributes to Giving Tuesday’s effectiveness in raising awareness, encouraging participation and raising funds.

The trick now is ensuring that Giving Tuesday translates into year-round social impact. Here’s to a successful, happy, and high impact Giving Tuesday!

For more on Giving Tuesday and how to participate, visit

For our annual year-end giving guidance, see: