Giving Tuesday has come each year since 2012, amidst the holiday furor over Black Friday deals and the gift-buying rush that accompanies them. It is a chance to remind us all about the importance of giving back to our communities and supporting social causes that uplift others. For entrepreneurs, Giving Tuesday is a unique chance to advance social responsibility goals they've set for their businesses.
If you're looking for opportunities to give back but aren't sure where to start, or if you're interested in social responsibility but haven't established a plan or set any concrete goals, these Giving Tuesday examples might inspire you.
How Giving Tuesday began
Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 by the Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y as a way to kick off the charitable season following more retail-driven, materialistic days like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
Giving Tuesday trades consumerism for community and sales for social initiatives, aiming to instill the spirit of charity in everyone during the lead up to the year-end holidays. Whether it's a contribution of time, money or ideas, Giving Tuesday celebrates kindness in all its forms and encourages the spread of these acts on social media as a way to promote the message.
This year, Giving Tuesday falls on Nov. 27 when thousands of individuals, businesses, and charities will volunteer and share their stories of giving back with the hashtag #GivingTuesday. For businesses, Giving Tuesday offers more than just the satisfaction of doing something good for others. There are also practical business considerations to engaging in initiatives like Giving Tuesday. For example, younger consumers, especially, prefer to support brands they perceive as socially responsible, meaning your acts of giving today could lead to recognition from customers tomorrow. [Looking for ways to give back? Check out these great examples of socially responsible businesses.]
"Millennials are particularly conscientious consumers who purchase with purpose," said Jay Ziskrout, founder of B2B donation and cause marketing service, Charitable Checkout. "People will switch brands to support one that they see as socially responsible."
The tangible benefits of giving back
Giving for the sake of helping those in need is noble and commendable, but giving also provides real benefits to the companies that do it. Not only do most millennials, who are quickly becoming the majority of the workforce, expect some sort of charitable focus from their employers, more than 60 percent of consumers expect it as well. Therefore, corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives ingratiate brands with their employees, their consumers and their communities. It's not just the right thing to do, it's a wise business decision.
"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, creator 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."
In the case of Purposity, charitable efforts and donation initiatives also benefit a business's immediate community. The platform connects local people in need with those who can help, strengthening connections between businesses and local communities. According to Canterbury, this offers a unique opportunity for companies looking to meet their corporate social responsibility 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 the improving health of its workforce and the company itself," he said.
Encourage your team to volunteer
Corporate social good is a valuable and viable practice, and volunteer work can be a great way to get started. Volunteering to causes that you and your employees believe in creates a sense of higher purpose and offers team-building experience simultaneously. For millennials, a company's record of volunteerism and corporate social responsibility priorities are often key considerations when job hunting.
"Millennials embrace charitable volunteerism and gravitate toward businesses that reward and esteem community involvement," said Charley Polachi, managing partner of Polachi Access Executive Search. "Make social good a goal, not a chore."
Polachi, who regularly works with startups, recommended setting aside identified days for volunteer work, or offering paid time off to staff members who want to pursue philanthropic activities. Even if you must start small, such as getting involved with a local school event, your charitable efforts won't go unnoticed.
Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to get things started
Corporate social responsibility is more than just rallying your employees to contribute to a cause one day a year. It is a philosophy of ethical behavior year-round, from engaging in volunteer efforts to producing sustainable products.
While Giving Tuesday is a good opportunity for businesses to organize and publicize their charitable contributions, it should be seen as a jumping-off point for a larger vision: Businesses are uniquely positioned to meet serious social needs, and both their employees and customers increasingly expect them to do so.
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article. Nicole Fallon contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.