More #GivingTuesday Than GivingTuesdaytm

Yesterday was #GivingTuesday, a phenomenal, viral event to spur donations and volunteerism for causes to rival Black Friday and Cyber Monday. (BTW, all those for corporate marketing gurus couldn’t think of better names than those? Why is a day dedicated to shopping “Black”? And Cyber Monday sounds like the invasion of the Borg.)

Giving Tuesday didn’t just pop up last week and tweet its way randomly to success. As Beth and I have written previously it had the scaffolding of successful online campaigns: time limited, urgent, photogenic and sharable. It also had the benefit of originating with heavy weight partners like the 92nd Street Y , the UN Foundation with the resources to dedicate staff to weave the network using Twitter (here and here), a website and, of course, Facebook pages. And ultimately on the day itself celebrities like Katie Couric and Bill Gates and mainstream media endorsing and tweeting about it. (Note: Campaigns like this are certainly capable of going viral without a  lot of organizational muscle behind them, but it does make it easier when organizations can afford to staff to man the channels.)

But what the effort had most of all is more # than tm (I was originally going to say it had hashtags and no trademark, but, alas and sadly, found the use of the trademark symbol on the Giving Tuesday website, sigh, somebody let a lawyer in the room.)

An event powered by a hashtag breathes outwards, it is open for anyone to join, talk about, share, and spread. An event organized by a trademark sucks in, has rules and regulations about who can participate and how. Giving Tuesday was more the former than the later which was a large part of its success. During the afternoon, I noticed on the twitter stream using the hashtag an emphasis on volunteerism as a great way to give. The implication was that writing a check is just one of many ways to give. This wasn’t a planned discussion, just one of many zigs and zags of conversations about giving leading up to and throughout the day.

Bread for the City, a marvelous, small nonprofit in DC dedicated to feeding people, an organization not on the “official” list of orgs participating in Giving Tuesday, can freely participate and send out this tweet by late yesterday:

I hope Giving Tuesday can remain hashtag oriented and not be overtaken by brands and lawyers and inhalers rather than exhalers. But it’s not up to “them” whether or not that happens, it’s up to us to keep a careful watch and make sure it does.

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Allison Fine
  • http://twitter.com/jeffshuck Jeff Shuck

    Allison, as usual I like your take on Giving Tuesday. All in all I think it has the *potential* for long-term staying power, if as you say we can all make it inclusive and expansive. 

    On a related note, I’ve been disappointed-but-not-surprised to see the inevitable cynical backlash. Some comments on that here: http://yourpartmatters.org/blog/2012/11/28/is-giving-tuesday-a-bad-idea-no.

    • Allison Fine

      Thanks, Jeff! Cynicism and sarcasm are the weapons of the weak…

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  • Linda Snyder

    “Black Friday” has for many years been associated with the first day of the year when retailers actually “go into the black” in terms of sales, as opposed to being “in the red”. 

    Wiki gives other explanations, but I’ve been aware of this definition of Black Friday since working in a bookstore while in college 35 years ago.

    • Allison Fine

      Thanks, Linda, this makes perfect sense!

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