#GivingTuesday: 5 ways to get the most out of it at your company

November 17, 2016 Andrew Troup

This article originally appeared in in HR.com’s Rewards, Recognition and Engagement November issue.

This year marks the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, which takes place on the Tuesday following the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday. On the heels of the big holiday shopping days Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that kicks off the charitable season, named as such due to the uptick in giving we tend to see around the holidays and end of year.
The purpose of #GivingTuesday is simple and straightforward: Galvanize individuals, foundations, corporations, communities, and every person, organization, and entity on the spectrum of social good around giving back—especially after the commercial madness that characterizes Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Last year, individuals and organizations from 71 countries participated and over $116 million was raised. Key to #GivingTuesday’s success and continued growth are the social and digital fundraising aspects at its core. In fact, online giving accounted for over $1 million last year while #GivingTuesday garnered 1.3 million mentions across social media channels. 
For companies that haven’t participated in #GivingTuesday before, it’s easy! Furthermore, with the ability to give back and participate in social good initiatives becoming increasingly important to today’s workforce, #GivingTuesday presents an effective and fun way to engage employees with your organization’s giving & engagement programs. Here’s how to get started and participate:
Begin by simply learning more about #GivingTuesday and how your corporation can participate. There are a number of tools on www.givingtuesday.org, including a corporate toolkit designed to help organizations spread the word among employees and increase participation. 
The next step is to develop an internal communications plan to educate and inform employees about #GivingTuesday and how they, as individuals, can participate and make a difference. In addition, if applicable, it’s the perfect time to remind employees about your corporate matching gift program which they can use to make their donations and impact go even further. Take this a step further by empowering employees to share their #GivingTuesday efforts and participation across their own social networks as well. You might consider tactics like creating “I Gave” (similar to “I Voted”) stickers for employees encouraging them to share pictures and their own personal #MyGivingStory
Externally, #GivingTuesday provides an opportunity for you to work with strategic nonprofit partners to make sure they have a solid plan in place to capitalize on this incredible day of giving. Additionally, spread the word by publically sharing how your corporation is participating and getting involved in the day—this can help encourage others to participate and potentially attract like-minded collaborators and talent.  
Employees may fall prey to the idea that their small donation doesn’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Combat this by showing employees their potential collective giving power. For example, what it would look like if 50% of the organization gave just $5 on #GivingTuesday; 80% of the organization, etc. Demonstrate the cumulative effect of different participation rates and dollar amounts to show just how important the role of each individual employee plays in your company’s overall philanthropic efforts and impact. 
The storytelling component of any #GivingTuesday campaign is critical. Employees want to know where their donations are going and what tangible effects they are personally having on the causes they’re supporting. Help employees realize this by running a “What If…” campaign. For example, what if the company matched every employee gift? What if together, a corporation and its employees donated X amount of dollars? What if these funds were pointed toward X non-profit? Paint employees a vivid picture of the impact they could potentially have.
The ultimate goal of any corporate #GivingTuesday strategy should be to make sure that employees have simple, clear steps on how to participate. Make the barrier to entry for participation as low as possible and let employees know, step-by-step, how they can participate and share their efforts. In addition, if applicable, don’t forget to highlight the organizations/causes that your corporation will be donating to so that employees know where your organization is focusing its efforts and where they might want to also have a more targeted impact. And ideally, all of this information should be located in one central information hub for participants to easily access. 
Of course, each #GivingTuesday campaign will be tailored to the culture and values of the participating corporation, and can present a great opportunity for businesses to put a stake in the ground around social responsibility, giving back and the specific role their organization and employees play. In turn, for any company participating, the effects that come from making the most out of #GivingTuesday will have reverberating positive effects across all aspects of the business now and well into the future.

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