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Giving Tuesday Social Responsibility Tips for Your Business

Jennifer Post
Jennifer Post

Here are some tips to help you make the most of Giving Tuesday.

  • Giving Tuesday falls on Dec. 1 this year and is the perfect day to give back to those in need.
  • The Giving Tuesday movement unites individuals in an effort to spread generosity and support to struggling communities.
  • By participating in this holiday, you will not only feel good about helping out, but also position your business as a more socially responsible entity.
  • This article is for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to know how they can get involved in this year's Giving Tuesday.

For nearly a decade, Giving Tuesday has come around every year as an alternative to the holiday shopping frenzies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the urge to buy all your holiday gifts in one go. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to remind everyone about the importance of giving back to communities and each other and supporting local causes that do good for the less fortunate. For entrepreneurs, Giving Tuesday is a chance to advance their social responsibility goals for their businesses.

"It isn't hard. It can be as simple as giving a hug, giving perspective, giving energy and, most importantly, giving time," said Tara Lundy, head of brand at LifeStraw. "Service isn't necessarily about 'heavy lifting;' it's a focus on the value of the little things – a smile, a kind word, thoughtful gesture or support."

Interested in participating in Giving Tuesday this year? Here's how to do it.

When is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement that takes place the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, it falls on Dec. 1. Its proximity to the two major shopping holidays is meant to spark the action of giving back to communities in need or special causes.

It is especially necessary this year, as the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact millions of individuals, families and communities. Giving back to those in need in 2020 is a great way to show your support during these trying times.

Key takeaway: Giving Tuesday 2020 takes place on Dec. 1 and is an ideal time to support those in need during this unprecedented year.

How did Giving Tuesday begin?

In 2012, the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at 92nd Street Y created the Giving Tuesday campaign as a way to kick off the charitable season after the more retail-driven and materialistic days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Trading consumerism for community and sales for social initiatives, Giving Tuesday aims to instill the spirit of giving in everyone at a time when the focus is on buying, buying and more buying of material items. Giving Tuesday celebrates kindness in all its forms, whether you choose a contribution of time, money, or ideas, and encourages the spread of these acts through social sharing on platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Key takeaway: Giving Tuesday started in 2012 as an effort by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact to kick off the charitable season and inspire generosity.

How does Giving Tuesday Work?

Giving Tuesday is a movement that simply encourages others to give back in some way. To participate, you could run a campaign encouraging your audience to get involved on this special day. Additionally, your business can give back through donations and charity work. Leading by example can inspire others to do the same.

For example, individuals, organizations and businesses post to social media about the holiday using the hashtag #GivingTuesday, set up donation pages where their supporters or customers can give back, and collaborate to spread generosity. 

Key takeaway: The Giving Tuesday movement works by spreading generosity and inspiring others to give back to communities and organizations in need.

The tangible benefits of giving back

Giving should be done without expectations of things in return, but that doesn't mean you can't reap the benefits of your charitable efforts. Most millennials expect some sort of charitable focus from their employers, and a majority of consumers expect it from the businesses they patronize. Therefore, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives ingratiate brands with their employees, customers and communities. Giving back isn't just the right thing to do – it's good for business.

"Today's workforce is significantly more interested in employers who actively pursue social initiatives, have a significant voice in making their communities stronger, and allow employees the time and opportunity to interact with causes important to them," said Blake Canterbury, founder of hyperlocal giving platform Purposity. "Employee retention is higher among companies that engage their workforce in these initiatives and allow for meaningful connections to giving, assuring they include employee voice in these initiatives."

With Purposity, charitable efforts and initiatives to donate also benefit a business's immediate community, connecting local people in need with those who can help, strengthening connections between businesses and their communities. According to Canterbury, this offers a unique opportunity for companies looking to meet their CSR goals in new ways.

"There is a strong ecosystem created when there is a partnership between corporations, individuals and nonprofits working together, benefiting not only the local community, but also improving the health of its workforce and the company itself," he said.

These benefits, even small ones, can have a big impact on nonprofits.

"Giving Tuesday is the biggest giving day of the year around the world," said Dani Heckman, events and communications coordinator at Kitchens for Good. "Nonprofits benefit because it gives them the opportunity to attract new donors and raise more money."

Key takeaway: By participating in Giving Tuesday, you show that your business is socially responsible and cares about its community, which is an appealing quality to many consumers.

Tips for running a Giving Tuesday campaign

Interested in running a Giving Tuesday campaign with your business? Here are some recommendations for how to get involved with Giving Tuesday.

1. Involve your team.

Encouraging your team members to feel as strongly about corporate social good as your C-suite does is a valuable and viable practice. Volunteer work can be a great way to start. Finding causes that you and your employees believe in creates a sense of higher purpose and offers a team-building experience at the same time. A company's record of volunteerism and CSR priorities are often key considerations for job-hunting millennials.

To create an easy opportunity for your team to participate, consider setting up a Facebook fundraising campaign. Your company could set up a fundraising page for a charity or nonprofit of your choice, or your team could donate directly to one.

"Donations through Facebook are confidential, so you won't be bombarded with follow-up emails from your new causes," said Tiiu Lutter, director of development for behavioral health nonprofit Family First.

But how should you choose an organization to donate to or raise funds for? Getting your team involved means you must first offer them a campaign to join.

"If you have a cause in mind and you're looking for a charity, do a quick search for any scandals or fraud to find which charities to avoid," said Joseph Stinn, assistant professor of economics at the Farmer School of Business at Miami University.

While that suggestion might seem like a dark cloud for a positive day, it's important to know what lies behind the charity you plan on fundraising for. After all, you want your efforts to truly support people in need.

"Choosing a charity based on how it spends money on salaries, administrative expenses and fundraising is not a good way to determine where to donate," Stinn said. "People focus a lot on keeping costs like salaries, other admin costs, and fundraising down because that's money not going to the charity's recipients, [but] this money still helps the recipients. Higher salaries, training and organizational infrastructure can make the charity more effective at its mission. For example, higher salaries and better benefits will attract (and help retain) higher-quality employees."

Stinn said transparency and accountability are better ways to determine if a charity is trustworthy.

"Overhead ratios measure how much money is going to programs, but that alone doesn't tell you whether the programs themselves have any effect, or what that effect is," he explained. "Transparency and accountability measures are signals that the charity is open about its methods and financials. Charities that are fraudulent or wasteful aren't likely to be transparent about those facts." 

2. Start a fundraiser on Facebook.

If you are looking to set up a fundraiser for a charity on Facebook, Lutter has a few simple tips.

"Just log in and follow their directions. If you are setting up for your own nonprofit, you need to register with Facebook first, which must be done ahead of time and involves sharing your 501(c)(3) documentation and bank information."

Offering a way for your employees and others to donate online could greatly help your cause. Facebook is also doing a little extra to sweeten the deal of fundraising and donating.

"Facebook has amplified giving through its social network by matching donations up to $7 million," said Mitch Ratcliffe, partner at Metaforce. "U.S.-based nonprofits can participate, receiving up to $100,000 in matching funds, and Facebook covers the transaction processing costs." 

Ratcliffe also mentioned that anyone with a Facebook account or a Facebook page for a group or business can create a Giving Tuesday campaign by visiting the fundraising link on their page. The Facebook Fundraisers page currently features Giving Tuesday campaigns.

3. Reach out to supporters directly.

You can do this by email, on social media or even in person. Spread the word about your business's efforts to contribute to Giving Tuesday and why people should care about the cause for which you're collecting donations. Share your story, provide examples of ways your customers and followers can get involved, and explain the impact of their contributions.

Make sure to use the movement's hashtag, #GivingTuesday, across all of your social platforms. Tell people how you will be involved this year to inspire them to follow suit. Provide clear instructions on how to help out. By sharing updates throughout the process, you will generate buzz and spread generosity – the true goal of the movement.

Key takeaway: You can run Giving Tuesday campaigns by involving your employees, starting a fundraiser on Facebook and reaching out to supporters for donations.

Giving Tuesday is just the start

Corporate social responsibility means more than rallying your employees to contribute to a cause one day a year. It is a standard of ethical behavior that your business should practice year-round, whether that means engaging in volunteer efforts or making sustainable products. But if you don't know where to start with year-round habits, Giving Tuesday could be the inspiration you need.

"Giving on Giving Tuesday is the point of the day's namesake," Lundy said. "It's a day to think less about oneself and more about others, to remind us of the spirit of the community and the benefits of connecting ourselves with cause."

Key takeaway: Giving Tuesday is a great time to get involved and spread love, but your efforts and social responsibility should extend well beyond the holiday. 

Sammi Caramela, Nicole Fallon and Adam C. Uzialko contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Image Credit: addkm/Shutterstock
Jennifer Post
Jennifer Post,
Business News Daily Writer
Jennifer Post graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in journalism. Having worked in the food industry, print and online journalism, and marketing, she is now a freelance contributor for Business News Daily and business.com. When she's not working, you will find her exploring her current town of Cape May, New Jersey, or binge-watching "Pretty Little Liars" for the 700th time.