In this third post in a series on how communication and technology are shaping life today, I reflect on the unprecedented giving that occurred in the 2-year-old initiative known as Giving Tuesday.
United Methodists, the faith community to which I belong, gave lavishly on #Giving Tuesday, a national day of charitable giving following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The record-breaking total of donations — $6.5 million in one day — was more than notable. The resounding success of this effort leads us to new pathways for considering the value of communications strategy in support of the mission of the church as well as the power of social media.
The people of The United Methodist Church are generous and they have demonstrated that generosity over the years, but social media and the ready opportunity to give online to a variety of causes is a game changer.
Frequently, I hear in The United Methodist Church that people don’t want to provide funding support beyond the local church, but on #GivingTuesday, their willingness to support ministry beyond the local church, and in many cases in other countries, was readily apparent.
Several factors contributed to this remarkable outpouring of giving, not the least of which is the fact that people in this faith community are generous and give to those efforts by the church that they believe will improve lives. Whether it’s for education, health, or economic development, clean water, nutrition, medicines or bed nets, they have shown a willingness to give.
Factors in Success
Other factors in the success of Giving Tuesday included a wide range of choices for donors, direct access to information and an easy process for contributing, buttressed by a social media and print campaign that put Giving Tuesday before potential donors on virtually every social medium they use. This awareness led to contributions.
It’s significant that Giving Tuesday was promoted in new media and in print. The interaction between the two gave the effort reach. The invitation to give was unavoidable; it was everywhere in the social media world. And it’s notable that people waited to give on Giving Tuesday, perhaps to take advantage of a matching grant that was available up to a limited amount.
There is still much to learn from the success of Giving Tuesday. Assessments and evaluations are still under way. Analytics are being reviewed, tactics assessed, and strategy evaluated.
As I write this, we have more questions than answers. What learnings can we glean from this overwhelming response about giving in the 21st century? What role did communications play in the favorable outcome and how did the various components of the communication strategy contribute to awareness? And finally, is this effort replicable and could it be scaled upward to include other beneficiaries important to the total mission of the church?
But one thing is clear, communication and technology have changed the game, and people will use these technologies to give generously to those things they care about when we communicate with them in the media where they are present.
Note: Due to a typing error in an earlier version of this post, I wrote that Giving Tuesday is three years old. It is two years old.