NEW YORK — Four years ago, PayPal set out to break the Guinness World Record for the most money raised online for charity in 24 hours.
Donors gave more than $45.8 million to charities via the payment platform during #GivingTuesday, the annual charitable campaign on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year the company may best its total for 2018, when $98 million was raised on its platform. And PayPal is just one of many platforms that process charitable donations.
While much is made of big corporations and multibillionaires giving large sums of money in highly publicized gifts, there is also great power to the collective giving of millions of individuals around the globe. That power can often be multiplied when all entities work together to spur each other on.
The philanthropic movement that coalesced around #GivingTuesday started in 2012, spurring donations so far of more than $1 billion in the United States alone. What started within the 92nd Street Y in New York is now an independent organization that coordinates the efforts of over 200 communities in the United States and 61 countries to increase generosity.
Asha Curran co-founded the original movement and is now CEO of the new organization called GivingTuesday. Curran spoke with Reuters about how corporations, communities and individuals come together to fuel charitable giving.
Q: Much of the corporate effort for #GivingTuesday centers on offering matching gifts. How do you tabulate that if those funds come in after the official day is over?
A: Matching is one of the best possible tactics, because it’s such an easy lift. There is not months of planning. And matches are almost always met.
It is very hard to measure what happens in a 24-hour period, so we have deliberately not counted matching gifts. Until this year — actually, we’re going to do that for the first time.
We know a bunch of them that were announced. There are a lot of smaller matches of the six-figure variety.
Q: What other efforts do you see besides matching from companies?
A: What I like to see is collaboration. I love to see competitors coming together to present a united front for common good. It can take all sorts of forms.
It works just as well for a Main Street small business as a multinational company. Some of the best stories we’ve seen have been like a local pizza parlor that donates half of the proceeds from every slice to a local animal shelter on #GivingTuesday.
It doesn’t have to be huge. It’s often those small activations that show a community’s solidarity. Anything that creates stronger bonds is something to be valued.
Q: How do you advise companies to develop what works for them?
A: We don’t do much one-on-one coaching anymore, but we advise them to ask what ideally would you like to get out of this? Better employee retention? Bigger brand awareness? Bigger value awareness?
Start with what you want, then start thinking about activation. With some companies, it’s just employee-facing. It’s a good opportunity to say to employees that we care what you believe.
Q: How does it work for companies when their focus is more on customers and audience?
A: We have gone from a time when companies were just making a cursory impact to now where people are demanding that businesses they shop from be closely aligned with their values.
There’s public pressure, so the way corporations respond manifests in many ways. From a #GivingTuesday perspective, what we’d advise is to tap into the full spectrum of generosity.
The more personalized, the better. What are the values that a company holds dearly? What will feel genuine and authentic?
Q: At the end of this year’s #GivingTuesday, you will come up with a number of what was donated that day. What about all the giving that does not show up on your ticker?
A: Most of what #GivingTuesday accomplishes is immeasurable. That doesn’t make it one bit less important. You take all the stories about the strengthening of community bonds — you can’t put that on a ticker.