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GivingTuesday Raises Estimated $2.7 Billion From Americans, a 9% Rise

Posted: 12/6/2021

Click here to read on The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

In its 10th year, GivingTuesday bested all previous fundraising records. Despite concerns that Americans wouldn't feel the same urgency to give as they did last year, donors turned out in droves.

An estimated 35 million adults participated in the November 30 giving day in the United States, a 6 percent increase over 2020, according to the GivingTuesday Data Commons, a group of more than 300 partners including organizations that process donations. These donors gave an estimated $2.7 billion over all, a 9 percent increase over 2020.

"This extraordinary show of generosity lit up the world against a backdrop of a dark two years," said Asha Curran, co-founder of the giving day and CEO of the nonprofit GivingTuesday. The day "was about millions of people celebrating their ability to meaningfully impact their communities and the world."

GivingTuesday started as a way to encourage people to do good and give to charities — a counterpoint to the consumerism of the year-end holiday season. It has since grown into a global movement with communities organizing campaigns to encourage and celebrate generosity throughout the year.

Joint Efforts

Collaboration was a big theme in campaigns this year. Some nonprofits raised money for other organizations or used their platforms to promote other charities' missions.

El Paso Matters, a nonprofit news outlet in Texas, used an email blast and social media to promote its campaign. The organization was one of many nonprofit journalism groups to peg its campaign to #GivingNewsDay on Tuesday. The group received more than $6,000 in contributions, tripling what it raised on the giving day last year, according to Robert Moore, El Paso Matters' CEO.

In addition to participating in NewsMatch, the annual foundation-supported gift-matching campaign that runs in November and December, El Paso Matters is also working with local organizations to help them raise funds at year end and give donors an added incentive to give.

"The more aggressive approach to #GivingNewsDay, and the partnerships with other community groups, is definitely paying off," Moore said in an email.

A Show of Gratitude

Other organizations built their campaigns around giving thanks.

That's the case for the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which focused its GivingTuesday effort on showing gratitude to supporters who gave earlier in the year. Support from individuals surged during the pandemic, and many donors turned out again on Tuesday, according to Devin Mathias, the group's development director. Their average contribution on this year's day of giving was more than 3 percent higher than it was last GivingTuesday. The share of readers who opened its email appeals on the day was high. What's more, donors who had given in past years chose to give again on GivingTuesday.

As the event has gotten older and gained more traction, some groups have grown skeptical of devoting too much energy in their campaigns on a day when donor inboxes and social-media feeds are increasingly crowded.

Tim Winkler, a fundraising consultant, said he saw fewer appeals sent Tuesday than in past years. But many of the groups that did participate went all in, he said. "The ones that chose to do it were very robust and highly intentional throughout the entire day."

Kestrel Linder, who leads GiveCampus, a fundraising platform for educational institutions, says colleges raised an average of 20 percent more (per institution) compared with last year. Fordham College, for example, raised $390,000 from more than 1,300 donors. Allegheny College raised $529,000 from 920 donors. Among the educational institutions on the platform, the average online contribution grew 9 percent over 2020.

Other colleges showed a slight decrease in dollars raised on Tuesday. Analysis from Anthology, another fundraising platform for colleges, found contributions dipped from $10.5 million in 2020 to $9.8 million this year. Mirko Widenhorn, senior director of engagement strategy at Anthology, attributes this decrease to greater donor turnout in 2020. During the first months of the pandemic, donors were more motivated to contribute to student emergency funds and other pandemic-response efforts, he says.

Growth in Volunteering

But GivingTuesday is not about monetary donations alone. Volunteering on the day increased by an estimated 11 percent over 2020. And gifts of goods like clothes, food, and other supplies, saw an 8 percent increase.

As charities kick off the final month of the year, the giving day could be a good indicator of the generosity yet to come.

"Giving is an important metric of civic participation, a way to build the kind of society we want to live in," Curran said. "Our hope is that this boost of generosity is an inspiration for continued giving, kindness, and recognition of our shared humanity each day of the year."

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