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Published December 1, 2013

#GivingTuesday: The Idealist’s Answer To Black Friday

All weekend long we’ve lamented over the horror stories surrounding the post-Thanksgiving shopping spree known as Black Friday, followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – less known for their violence but still keen on themes of commercialism and spending.

It doesn’t help that Black Friday has now started to absorb Thanksgiving evening, which has raised a few eyebrows and inspired some ethical questions (to boycott or not to boycott?). When the headlines in my own Facebook news feed read, “Check out this Black Friday violence roundup“, I, too, had to shake my head and sigh.

But before you write humanity off as a lost cause, I’d like to introduce you to a new Thanksgiving-time tradition that sprouted up in 2012: #GivingTuesday. Just before last year, a few idealistic leaders and do-gooders from around the country gathered to discuss how to turn the tables.

RELATED: Shop or Not to Shop: The Ridiculous Boycotting of Holiday Shopping.

With the aim of countering Black Friday’s focus on commercialism, the team invented #GivingTuesday (including the hashtag prefix (#) because of its strong ties to social media), which would take place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The goal: to inspire unprecedented levels of giving (money and volunteer time) and helping others to kick off the holiday season the right way.

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The good news? It worked like a charm. Donation hubs such as Network for Good reported massive spikes in giving. Charities were quick to catch on and develop their own efforts to encourage donations on #GivingTuesday. And though it’s defined as a ‘national day of giving’, a partnership with the UN Foundation shows it’s going global. Even the President is behind it.

It’s only year 2, but #GivingTuesday organizers have launched a major campaign to ensure the day grows and becomes cemented in holiday tradition.

Getting involved is easy. If you’re reading this, you already have access to a major tool you can use to participate: the internet.

Having a Facebook or Twitter account is a big plus, too. Here are some ways you can participate in #GivingTuesday, big or small.


Participate Virtually

  • Make a Donation to your favorite cause: Live the spirit of #GivingTuesday directly by making a donation to your favorite charity. Not sure which charities are worthy of your financial support? Check out to get details on top-rated charities that can make your dollars go far.
  • Inspire your friends by posting or tweeting about how you plan to give back this holiday season (or share how you already have!). Use hashtag #GivingTuesday to be included in the online movement.
  • Take and post an “#unselfie”! Everyone’s heard of the notorious “selfie“. Now through December 4, take “#unselfies” instead – photos of yourself with a charitable twist: How you support good causes, why you give back, etc. Make it your own!
  • Make it official: Join the #GivingTuesday movement as a Social Media Ambassador and post and tweet as part of the team!


Participate In Person / Locally

  • Find a local partner in your community and get involved: One of the things that makes #GivingTuesday a success is the wide network of partners (both charities and companies) around the country. Find an organization hosting a #GivingTuesday initiative in YOUR community, and get involved.
  • In Raleigh / Durham / Chapel Hill: In addition to giving money, local Volunteer Center, Activate Good, is encouraging Triangle citizens to give their time. Starting #GivingTuesday through December 31, Activate Good is challenging folks to pledge volunteer hours to local causes. There are even some great holiday-themed volunteer needs you can check out to wet your whistle and get started.

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RELATED: Thanksgiving Is Becoming Black Friday: When Gratitude Gives Way To Greed.

#GivingTuesday is just the beginning, not the end!

No matter how you choose to participate in the new #GivingTuesday movement, remember that it’s just a catalyst for do-gooding year-round. Let #GivingTuesday inspire giving on December 3 but don’t let it end there. Causes need and benefit from financial contributions throughout the year, but especially need volunteers AFTER and in between the holiday seasons. Resolve to get – and stay – involved, starting with #GivingTuesday!

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  • Amber


  • Volunteer. Nonprofit ninja. Idealist. Lover of art, music, languages, kung fu, & sappy heroic tales. All my articles.

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