Two years ago the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) imported the American concept of #GivingTuesday to the UK. The concept has got bigger each year but does #GivingTuesday do anything positive for volunteering or is it another example of charities preferring gifts of money to gifts of time?

Next week #GivingTuesday will once more be marked in the UK. Originally conceived in the USA, #GivingTuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the popular shopping events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The idea is simple – #GivingTuesday starts the charitable season, when many people consider some kind of support for good causes1.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) describe #GivingTuesday like this:

Whether you bake good stuff, make good stuff, donate good stuff, tweet good stuff or even say good stuff ‐ whatever you do, we want you to do good stuff for charity this #GivingTuesday. You’ll be joining thousands of people in the UK in committing to doing good stuff all on the same day, including some of the UK’s biggest brands, charities and celebrities.

Volunteering is one way that people can support #GivingTuesday. Others include: donating money, clothes or food; tweeting; and, apparently, simply saying nice things about charities! Yet I believe the emphasis is on people giving money. Why? Consider this statement on the #GivingTuesday UK website:

We [CAF] brought #GivingTuesday to the UK two years ago and last year we raised £6,000 a minute for UK charities and broke the world record for most amount of money donated online in 24 hours!

Despite all the ways to give, the celebration is of donated money.

I don’t find this emphasis surprising. I frequently come across the word ‘giving’ in the non-profit world to only describe people giving money. When I hear of someone making a gift to an organisation it is usually a gift of money. Why? Because in my view many non-profits value donated money far more than donated time.

This isn’t an article railing against what I believe is a misguided, cash obsessed approach to non-profit management. I’ve written about that before – see this blog post from 2012 for an example. No, my purpose for writing this article is to discover what you are doing to make the most of #GivingTuesday when it comes to volunteering? For example:

  • How have you harnessed the potential of the day over the last two years to get more people to give you their time?
  • Did your efforts connect with those of your fundraising department or are you both working in isolation from each other?
  • What lessons have you learned?
  • Was the effort worth it?
  • What plans do you have for this year?
  • How are you planning to measure success?

I’d love to hear from you. I am genuinely interested in learning how people are making the most of #GivingTuesday when it comes to volunteering. I hope it isn’t just a concept that is being used by charities to ask the public to part with more of their cash.


See also Susan J Ellis’ November Hot Topic article, “What Volunteer Recruiters Can Learn from #GivingTuesday”. If #GivingTuesday is a new concept to you, or you never knew it included volunteering, then Susan’s article could help you consider how to get the most from #GivingTuesday in 2017.

  1. Of course the timing doesn’t exactly work for the UK coming, as it does, just a few days after the annual Children In Need fundraising campaign. IS there a risk that we are over-asking the ever generous but increasingly fiscally challenged British public? The topic for another blog post perhaps?
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One thought on “Is Giving Tuesday good for volunteering?

  1. Totally agree with you Rob, it’s constantly being promoted with figures of the cash raised rather than number of ppl who helped others, people inspired to give back in other ways. I thought about using it as a campaign to recruit volunteers etc. But comments from colleagues and friends didn’t fill me with confidence as people were slating it as an USA import and had a reputation for asking for people to donate cash. It’s taken me a long time to embed a culture which celebrates national Volunteers week, although two different campaigns I didn’t want to dilute one which is finally working recognising and promoting formal and informal volunteering.

    Liked by 1 person

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