#GivingTuesday a refreshing way to donate
Anyone who is a frequent user of Facebook or Twitter, or is on email, knows full-well about the phenomenon known as #GivingTuesday. And many local nonprofits are happy about that.
#GivingTuesday was an outgrowth of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but with a decidedly more altruistic purpose.
According to its website, #GivingTuesday was “created by the team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y — a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around the values of service and giving back. #GivingTuesday connects diverse groups of individuals, communities and organizations around the world for one common purpose: to celebrate and encourage giving.”
The founders of the movement decided to use a hashtag to spread the word via social media. Apparently their plan worked, as scores of non-profits across the globe connected to potential donors through Facebook and Twitter. It also spawned more innovative hashtags.
According to a story in Tuesday’s New York Times, collection drives have been undertaken for “food, blood and clothing banks; and even random acts of kindness. Last year $117 million was raised for charities in more than 70 countries.”
Locally, several non-profits have seized on #GivingTuesday as a way to spread the word about their organizations and their fund-raising needs, from Windrush Farm in North Andover and the Historical Society of Andover to the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center in Newburyport and Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen.
Windrush Farm said the fund-raising on #GivingTuesday has always been good, but this year, the equine therapy center decided to have some fun with it.
Marketing director Emma Hammond said the organization introduced, through Facebook, Twitter and emails to donors, something they called #GivingShoesday, which enables people to go onto the non-profit’s website and buy portions or all of a horseshoe.
“We have horses that need special shoes in the winter and it’s expensive,” she said. “We have so many people who work with the horses and love them and ask how to give. People looking to make donations in honor of #GivingTuesday can give a horseshoe.”
She said the reception has been amazing.
“We were overcome this year,” she said. “Transactions Tuesday alone exceeded our goal.”
She attributed the success at least in part to the fact that people are donating to something very specific to a charity they know very well.
“People want to connect with what they are giving,” she said, adding that the campaign has been extended through the end of the year. “They know their money is going specifically to a shoe for a horse.”
Mass. Attorney General Maura Healey, in a statement released this week, warned people to be careful about donating to charities that use professional solicitors, noting that oftentimes more money ends up going to the solicitors instead of the charity the donation was intended for. Massachusetts charities that hire professional solicitors received an average of 62 percent of the proceeds collected during charitable campaigns in 2014, according to a report released Monday by Healey, who also offered tips for consumers to give wisely on “Giving Tuesday.”
“During this season of giving, we remind people to do their due diligence before they donate their dollars to ensure they are maximizing the impact of their contributions and that donations are going to a worthy cause,” she said. It would seem that organizations like Windrush Farm and others have already heeded that call, stressing their local roots.
Elaine Clements, executive director of the Andover Historical Society, said the Main Street non-profit went “all-out” with #GivingTuesday this year, but in a slightly different way.
“This year, we are engaging people in our mission and getting them involved through the stories we send out,” she said. The organization has been emailing stories about Andover historical figures to its membership and has become somewhat of a genealogical resource in the process, bringing together long-lost relatives and helping others from Andover and elsewhere make connections.
And we have #GivingTuesday to thank for that.