December 12, 2012

How #GivingTuesday Built a Powerful Network

Courtesy of #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday supporters shared pictures of themselves with signs promoting the organizations they gave to.

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For Henry Timms, the unexpected success of #GivingTuesday isn't a story about how Twitter and Facebook helped fuel a national day of giving.

Instead, the deputy director of New York's 92nd Street Y says it is a testament to the power of community.

Mr. Timms, who came up with idea for #GivingTuesday, said that the special fundraising day drew widespread attention and raised millions of dollars because a strong community of nonprofits worked toward a shared goal.

"The fact that social media can be a way in which we can all connect, and all come together on one day and make a statement about shared value, and then that begins the most important season of our year—I think that's something which we can really build on," he said.

When #GivingTuesday started, organizers hoped they could persuade 100 groups to take part. But the concept grew quickly—in large part because of the support it received online.

About 2,600 charities from all 50 states participated in the inaugural event on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Network for Good, the online donation processor, recorded a 154.6-percent increase in giving that day.

In this episode of Social Good, Mr. Timms explains how he and other organizers attracted participants, what charities did to attract donations and volunteers that day, and how he hopes #GivingTuesday will become the "opening day of the giving season."

Allison Fine, a nonprofit leader and expert on technology and communications, discusses how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money. Ms. Fine incorporates suggestions and questions from readers into her podcasts and invites you to e-mail her at Look for new installments on the first Thursday of every month.