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#GivingTuesday hopes to feast on goodwill

8:51 PM, Dec 2, 2013   |    comments
#GivingTuesday's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GivingTuesday on Dec. 1, 2013.(Photo: Facebook.com)
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. - When Erica Bell heard about the national #GivingTuesday campaign to encourage charitable contributions on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, she, like thousands of people across the USA, decided to get involved.

Bell is the development director of Asheville City Schools Foundation, which raises about $200,000 a year to support learning.

"I was just inspired by the #GivingTuesday mission, which is spreading the spirit of giving," she said.

#GivingTuesday started last year as a charitable answer to the retail shopping days of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday with help from such big names as Sony and Microsoft. One of the creators of #GivingTuesday is encouraged with the movement's growth.

"I think we are really excited to see people all around the country coming together around the idea of giving," says Henry Timms, interim executive director of the 92nd Street Y in New York City that was the catalyst for the day. "I have a real belief that the holiday season is to celebrate giving."

The goal of #GivingTuesday is to drive donations of time, money or services to charities with the same enthusiasm that shoppers have on Black Friday.

Last year, according to #GivingTuesday organizers:

• Online giving was up more than 50% on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving compared to the same Tuesday in 2011 before the #GivingTuesday initiative, according to Charleston, S.C.-based Blackbaud, which offers software and services for non-profits.

• Paypal mobile donations soared 487% higher than the previous year, according to #GivingTuesday partner UN Foundation, citing data from the company. The value of those donations increased 228%.

This year, #GivingTuesday partners number 7,500, up from 2,500, Timms says. And the movement has gone global, with organizations in Australia, Canada, Mexico and Singapore.

The event likely brings in new money for charities, though the exact dollar amount of new donations is unknown, said Steve MacLaughlin, director of the Idea Lab at Blackbaud.

"I think the sense is you will bring in new donors and potentially get old donors to give a second gift," he says. "I think overall, it's bonus."

Charitable giving overall was up 3.5% in 2012 to $316 billion, according to Giving USA.

Shoppers spent $59 billion during Black Friday weekend last year, according to the National Retail Federation, and $1.46 billion on Cyber Monday, according to comScore.

The big names are once again backing #GivingTuesday, said Aaron Sherinian, vice president of public relations and communications at the UN Foundation.

Home Depot Foundation will donate $1 to Operation Homefront for every tweet using #TeamDepot, up to $100,000, to help soldiers and their families.

Microsoft is launching a campaign to raise $500,000 for Give for Youth to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people.

World Food Program USA and FEED Projects will team with Facebook for a live Q&A on #GivingTuesday on finding global solutions to end hunger. eBay Deals, Johnson & Johnson and AT&T all have efforts designed to encourage giving.

The total raised last year on #GivingTuesday is in the tens of millions of dollars, Timms estimates. Charities hope the movement will do better this year.

In Washington, Fisher House Foundation is hoping #Giving Tuesday donations will help build on $500,000 that it received from Walmart this year. The group helps military families with housing while a servicemember is in the hospital.

"There is Black Friday, there is Cyber Monday," said Ken Fisher, chairman and chief executive of the foundation. "We found out about #GivingTuesday and thought it was a great way to kick off the giving season."

Jon Ostendorff also reports for the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times.

Jon Ostendorff, USA TODAY

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