Sarah Ford | December 8, 2014

Giving Tuesday 2014 Impact and Opportunities for Businesses in 2015

#GivingTuesday 2014 Impact and Opportunities for Businesses in 2015

By Sarah Ford

One week ago, millions of individuals, nonprofits, and businesses across the globe united for one purpose – to celebrate giving. Founded in 2012 by 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday generated $45.7 million this year, according to a preliminary estimate by the Case Foundation.  That’s almost a 240% increase from the $13.46 million raised by nonprofits just two years ago when Giving Tuesday first launched.

But what kind of impact is Giving Tuesday actually making and how do nonprofits feel about it?  We reached out to our member charities for their insights, inquiring about their Giving Tuesday initiatives, what made them successful, and what opportunities they see for individual and business supporters in 2015. 

An Integral Part of Year-end Fundraising for Nonprofits

Year-end fundraising is critical for the nonprofit sector, with 50.5% of nonprofit organizations surveyed in GuideStar’s 2012 survey, The Effect of the Economy on the Nonprofit Sector, stating they received the majority of their contributions between October and December. As such, Giving Tuesday is becoming an integral part of many nonprofit fundraising strategies.

For the last couple years, Share Our Strength has used Giving Tuesday to raise money for its No Kid Hungry campaign.  Leveraging Thunderclap again this year, and teaming up with Hickory Farms, who agreed to match all of No Kid Hungry’s Giving Tuesday donations up to $50,000, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign ended up generating $100,000 which will help connect kids with up to 1 million meals (Every $1 donated to No Kid Hungry can help connect a hungry kid with up to 10 meals).

Give Kids The World (GKTW), a nonprofit “storybook” resort where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations, has participated in Giving Tuesday before.  But this year, in addition to setting a fundraising goal of $60,000, GKTW also wanted to use the day to honor their supporters.  By encouraging donors to share #unselfie photos accompanied by why they support GKTW, Give Kids The World nearly doubled their goal, raising over $110,000. “We prepared our supporters through a few different channels of communication; through social media, email, and our website. We shared with them that #GivingTuesday was approaching, gave them ways to get involved, and shared with them reasons why their donations matter. We also enlisted a matching donor so we were able to let people know that their donations would be matched up to $20,000. We really do have the best supporters in the world. Without their passion for GKTW, our success with #GivingTuesday would not have been possible,” says GKTW Manager, Development, Lauren Zimniski.

Feeding America, set a goal of raising $16,000 on #GivingTuesday. Using a blend of email and other online marketing initiatives, they ended up raising $140,000.  According to Feeding America’s Digital Engagement Manager, Aaron LaMonica-Weier, “#GivingTuesday was successful to Feeding America due to the increase awareness of the event in the general public. Our audiences now know what #GivingTuesday is and see the power of coming together to give for one day after the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Additionally, we had a strong matching grant partner, Tony Robbins, kick-off his 100 Million Meals Challenge in connection with #GivingTuesday. Having a well-known individual partner with us on this effort allowed our combined efforts to resonate with donors.”

#GivingTuesday is brand new to United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), a nonprofit that educates, advocates and provides support services to ensure a life without limits for people with a spectrum of disabilities. With this year being their first time participating in this global movement, UCP chose to focus on raising awareness about their work and connecting it to their other year-end fundraising appeals.  With hopes of building on this initial success for next year, Director of Individual Giving, Michele Levy, CFRE, says, “#GivingTuesday was successful for us because it opened the door for UCP to be introduced to new supporters. The added incentive of matching funds from Network for Good gave supporters yet another good reason to reach for their wallets.”

According to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, Chief Development Officer, Christine Bork, "#GivingTuesday has been an exciting way for us to begin our end-of-year fundraising campaign. #GivingTuesday gives us an opportunity to engage our donors and social media followers to increase awareness about the importance of children's cancer research." Hoping to increase awareness about children's cancer on social media and using Giving Tuesday to kick off their end-of-year giving campaign, CureSearch raised $8,479 on Giving Tuesday, and generated $10,279 in the week leading up to the big day through online promotions. On Facebook, CureSearch was able to gain 306 new likes and engage 3,857 people (with post likes, forwards, etc.). On Twitter, CureSearch had over 112 (forwards, favorites and mentions.) “We were pleased with the results,” reports CureSearch.

With November being Diabetes Awareness Month, Diabetes Research Institute Foundation’s (DRIF) year-end campaign typically commences before the Thanksgiving Holiday and in conjunction with the beginning of the month. So they used Giving Tuesday to increase donations to their year-end campaign, A Future Free from T1D, which launched on November 1. “#GivingTuesday helped to give a much-needed bump to our donations after the launch of our year-end campaign at the beginning of November. #GivingTuesday also helped to remind supporters who have not yet given a gift that their donations are critical for helping Diabetes Research Institute scientists continue their cure-focused research and fulfill our mission to discover a biological cure for diabetes,” said Lori Weintraub, APR, Vice President of Marketing & Communications at DRIF. “The number of gifts we received on #GivingTuesday far exceeded the average number of gifts we had received on a daily basis since the launch on November 1st of our Future Free from T1D year-end campaign. We were also able to drive a large number of visitors to our website.”

An Emotion-evoking Donor Experience & Chance to Pay it Forward

For the third year in a row, Dress for Success transformed #GivingTuesday into #GivingShoesDay, which encourages supporters to donate their shoes to their local Dress for Success.  This was the first time that #GivingShoesDay was implemented on a global level with their donation goal for 2014 being 2,500 pairs of shoes, or a 47% increase in shoe donations over last year’s results.

By focusing on garnering the most shoe donations versus monetary donations, Dress for Success hoped to bring attention to their organization’s constant need for footwear to provide to the women they serve.  “A shoe donation evokes an emotional bond with our supporters because through their shoe donations, our women are able to literally walk in the successful footsteps of another woman.  We hope that this connection is something that we will nurture over time and we’ll develop a long-term, meaningful relationship with these shoe donors that could potentially lead to monetary donations or even volunteerism,” noted Dress for Success’ Director, Marketing & Communications, Katie Murphy. “#GivingShoesDay was successful because we turned it into a fun event that anyone can participate in.  We even had men bringing in shoes on behalf of the women in their lives!  We provided a clearly defined and easy to execute ask, and our supporters responded with astounding results!” The tallies from Dress for Success affiliates are still coming in, but the total number of shoe donations collected throughout the world on #GivingTuesday is more than 4,000 so far.

For Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF), Giving Tuesday wasn’t just an opportunity to raise money and awareness via social media, but rather an opportunity to begin a process of engaging their students in giving back to TMCF as an act of “paying it forward.” Addressing the need to ensure that public HBCU students are receiving professional development opportunities, TMCF partners with its member-schools to increase access, retention and graduation rates of students; identify and prepare students attending member-schools who have significant leadership potential; and create a pipeline for employers to highly-qualified member-school students and alumni. On Giving Tuesday, TMCF was successful in engaging students on 19 of its campuses and is continuing to build on this initial engagement to develop a culture of giving throughout the student population of close to 300,000 students on TMCF's 47 member-school campuses.

For Good Neighbors, an international humanitarian NGO committed to child education, community development, and emergency relief projects in more than 30 countries, Giving Tuesday was a chance to gain awareness for their organization and introduce people to their current year-end giving campaign, Project BrightLights.  Project BrightLights is Good Neighbors’ effort to provide solar light bulb kits for families throughout La Fragua, Guatemala.  So in addition to offering free snacks, drinks, and a photo booth, they also had a pop-up store selling one-of-a-kind handmade crafts from Guatemala – a creative way to connect supporters to the culture and people benefiting from Project BrightLights.

The National Association of the Deaf’s (NAD) primary objective this year was to raise awareness through a media campaign, featuring special posts leading up to #GivingTuesday.  “#GivingTuesday allows people to enjoy giving back to the community, making it a fun campaign for all to participate,” says Lizzie Sorkin, Director of Communications for NAD.

Opportunity for Businesses and Nonprofits to Work Together

As an organization that lies uniquely at the intersection between employers, employees, and the charities they support, we at America’s Charities decided to kickoff our #GivingTuesday celebration in August this year. From August, all the way through December 2 (Giving Tuesday), we served as a resource and consultant to 5,000 individuals, charities and businesses.  Through our web page,, we shared a variety of #GivingTuesday celebration ideas by featuring resources from experts; provided advice for nonprofits through the Google+ Hangout, "Giving Tuesday Ideas with the Biggest ROI,” which featured advice from #GivingTuesday co-founder 92nd Street Y; presented businesses with a guide, “7 Ways to Leverage Your Company’s Social Responsibility Initiatives With #GivingTuesday”; and featured the interesting causes and #GivingTuesday initiatives our members had going on this year. 

From conversations with our members and clients, Giving Tuesday was definitely more successful than ever this year, with a lot of that success resulting from nonprofit-business partnerships, and many of those partnerships extending beyond Giving Tuesday.

For example, one of the goals of Dress for Success’ #GivingShoesDay campaign was to garner the interest of an international partner to provide an incentive to supporters to donate their shoes on #GivingShoesDay.  And for the second year in a row, Fergie Footwear teamed up with Dress for Success to do just that.  The brand is providing the Top 10 individual shoe donors with a complimentary pair of limited holiday edition Raegan heels, as well as providing a gift of brand new shoes to the Top 3 affiliates who collect the most total shoe donations.  Additionally, 100% of the proceeds of the sale of this Raegan heel through December 31 will benefit Dress for Success.

However, there is still a lot of room for growth in 2015, particularly with regards to partnerships between nonprofits and businesses.

When we asked members what they’d like to see more of next year, Good Neighbors Executive Director, Eunju Oh, said, “I would definitely love to see more businesses involved with the Giving Tuesday initiative.  We had several conversations with our Board, as well as businesses that we were hoping would agree to a matching grant that day, but it was still hard to "sell" it.  Even with a lot of resources that we had through America's Charities, Indiegogo, Giving Tuesday, etc., the individuals at the companies we talked to were still not aware of the initiative.  My hope for next year is that since we already planted the seed this year, hopefully next year we can get partners on board.”

Amy Goldstein, Vice President of Development for Thurgood Marshall College Fund, replied, “We are looking to partner with businesses who will include the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in their annual workplace giving campaigns, with #Giving Tuesday as the centerpiece of the campaigns.  In order to make such a partnership successful, we would like the opportunity to educate employees about TMCF's programs, impact and vision prior to #GivingTuesday.  We also would hope that the business would work with TMCF to create joint communications for their employees, vendors and customers to share on #GivingTuesday via digital media outlets - from social media to email to other platforms.”

Start Planning for #GivingTuesday 2015 Now

Creating #GivingTuesday partnerships between nonprofits and businesses is something that can easily be integrated and woven into a company’s existing social responsibility and community investment strategies, but it does require some time and planning ahead.  

If you are a charity interested in forming a partnership with a business, start building your relationship now. Not only do you need to have a clear vision of what it is your organization is hoping to achieve, you need to understand what companies are looking for in nonprofit relationships.  I encourage you to watch our video, Corporate-Nonprofit Relationships, and then consult with America's Charities on how to approach potential business partners. 

If your business is interested in celebrating #GivingTuesday next year, start thinking about what societal issues you want to help solve and have your business associated with, and then contact America’s Charities. After we hear about your goals and interests, we can put together an effective plan for you and connect you with qualified charities that match the cause areas your company is interested in supporting. To learn more about our services and expertise, visit

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