President's Perspective Blog

Monday Message: Embracing Opportunity, Abundance, and the Joy of Giving this GivingTuesday

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On the eve of this 10th GivingTuesday, I’m lucky to have a bird’s eye view of preparations around the world for this global day of generosity. Charity runs are taking place in Turkey and Ukraine, communities are lighting up landmarks in the Czech Republic and even putting a special spotlight on Niagara Falls. Platforms and partners are working together to lift up giving to under-resourced communities through campaigns like #LatinxGive#MuslimsGive, and #ClosetheGivingGap. Young people are creating their own movements to inspire more kids to give and coalitions of organizations are bringing people together in conversations around tough topics like ending domestic violence, combatting the stigma of loneliness, and reaching across divides to pursue peace. Even after what has been a challenging two years for almost everyone on this planet, there is hope radiating from all parts of the world—and still so much opportunity ahead.  
An estimated 33.1 million people came together to do good, including donating $2.47 billion in a 24-hour period in the U.S. alone, on December 1, 2020 (which was also last year’s biggest day for donor acquisition). From the recent reports from The Fundraising Effectiveness Project, a collaborative effort from AFP, GivingTuesday, and generous data partners, we see these 2020 donors continue to give in 2021. While it’s hard to predict what this year’s final weeks will bring, we do know that a universal shared moment of giving also presents us with an opportunity to do more—as givers, as fundraisers, as a sector.  
Beyond their financial contributions, people participate in GivingTuesday as a way to connect to their community and as a way to be part of something bigger than themselves. There is power in collective action and doing good—together. 
As a global movement, GivingTuesday has grown to see 80 official country movements and hundreds of local initiatives that are redefining what it means to be a community. These coalitions stand up around cities, towns, and states, but also bring people together through cause, culture, identity, or shared passion. These efforts go beyond a one-day ask and seek to create that spark of belonging that inspires increased giving of all types and a renewed  sense of civic engagement year-round.  
Fundraisers and nonprofit professionals of all backgrounds bring people closer to causes by helping them feel connection and community that creates a sense of ownership, increases loyalty, and inspires action. Your work continues to provide hope and healing to communities through this pandemic. It’s difficult to persevere through a prolonged global crisis—it is often physically and mentally exhausting as we have feared for our own friends and family while we work to better our communities and fight for good causes. Coupled with the effects of a highly volatile market and uncertainty, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and feel the urge to retreat. And yet, donors have shown they’re still highly motivated to give and create change, whether that’s for someone on their block or halfway around the world.  

As my colleague Woodrow Rosenbaum, GivingTuesday’s chief data officer, recently wrote, “Along with all these challenges, comes what could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: With all this volatility, we saw a reversal of the damaging trend of donor consolidation in the sector. For the first time in a long time, we saw more givers in the system. Acquisition by organizations was up and more Americans were donating to charities.” He goes on to say, “the suppressing effects of economic uncertainty notwithstanding, generosity is how people respond to the needs and crises in their communities. It gives them agency.”  
After this prolonged period of distress, we still get to offer our donor communities a profoundly meaningful gift. By inviting donors to give, you’re giving people hope and encouragement, building a sense of community in times of isolation, and offering the opportunity for individuals to have a say in how their world moves forward.  
We can view the annual GivingTuesday and our outreach through December, not as a competition for a limited pool of dollars, but as another chance to celebrate the power of generosity to lift each other up, share what we have, and meet donors with connection and conversations that go beyond transactional fundraising to become transformational experiences. We can reimagine our relationships with donors and our own work by embracing an abundance mindset and welcoming more opportunities to give and more types of giving.  
On November 30, millions of people around the world will come together to donate, volunteer, share their voice, spread acts of kindness, and much more as an act of solidarity in expressing one of our rare shared values: generosity. As we celebrate GivingTuesday this year, we also celebrate your work and our collective impact as a sector. By embracing abundance and recognizing the opportunities ahead, we get to design a better world, together. 

Caryn SteinCaryn Stein works to expand awareness of GivingTuesday’s mission and impact, engage global stakeholders, and advance the conversation on driving systems change to unleash greater generosity. Caryn has spent 20 years as a market strategist in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors, building integrated communication and fundraising strategies for nonprofits, universities, and social enterprises. Prior to joining the GivingTuesday team, Caryn led marketing and communications efforts for Ruffalo Noel Levitz, Network for Good, NBC, and As a speaker and trainer, she has also helped hundreds of organizations create and optimize campaigns.

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