‘In a world where consumers are demanding that brands show up in the world in a generous way, GivingTuesday is a perfect moment for companies to highlight their social impact,’ believes director, digital strategy Kathleen Murphy Toms.
Originally started in 2012, global giving movement GivingTuesday dares people to ‘reimagine a world built upon shared humanity and radical generosity’.
Want to take part as an individual, or a company, this year? We spoke to Kathleen about the benefits of giving, building an international movement, and how to get hold of the GivingTuesday toolkit now available for organisations and brands ready to pitch in on 28 November.
How did you originally get involved with GivingTuesday?
The year GivingTuesday launched, I’d been working at our statewide association of nonprofits and grantmakers and I thought that it’d be such a great opportunity for both nonprofits and supporters of social good to have a day to celebrate generosity. So, I jumped on immediately. We taught our nonprofit members how to fundraise online (it was still a relatively new concept back in 2012) and we spun up events across the state designed to increase volunteerism and participation in social good. Eventually I joined the GivingTuesday team around 2019 to lead digital strategy and communications.
What are your favourite things about working on GivingTuesday?
My favorite thing is that it exists to build the world we all imagine to be possible. If we can start to shift behavior to be more inclined toward radical generosity (the notion that someone else’s suffering should be as intolerable to me as my own suffering), I believe that’s our path forward. We need to learn how to centre our lives in community care, in being more neighbourly with each other, in generally being willing to help each other. GivingTuesday is a great ‘training ground’ – it helps people develop that generosity muscle.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities with running a global campaign?
In organising a movement of this scale, you have to be able to let go a little bit – of everything, from the messaging to the brand. We actually call ourselves unbranded and it’s with purpose: GivingTuesday would never have reached nearly 100 nations if we’d insisted countries adhere to certain brand standards or a certain narrative. Instead, we insist our leaders create language, narrative, and marketing materials that are authentic and localised to the community they’re in.
Tell us about your toolkit for companies who want to get involved with GivingTuesday this year…
In a world where consumers are demanding more and more that brands show up in the world in a generous way, I think GivingTuesday is a perfect moment for companies to highlight their social impact. Companies and brands play a huge role in GivingTuesday, everything from matching their employees’ donations to hosting company-wide volunteer events. Some tech platforms will build GivingTuesday into their products or send out push notifications to remind app users that it’s GivingTuesday. You can find all kinds of ideas, case studies, and resources on our landing page.
What are some of the biggest successes over the last few years you’d like to share?
Everyone likes to hear about the big number, and yes, every day individuals rallied to give $3.1B in 24 hours to nonprofits in the U.S. in 2022. But honestly, the stories we take heart in are the ‘smaller stories’. The little kid who emptied his piggy bank so he could support an animal rescue on GivingTuesday. These are the stories that stick with me and give me energy. To think about who that kid is gonna grow up to be… The identity that he has as being part of the generosity movement, what choices is that kid gonna make? These, to me, are the biggest success stories.
What advice would you give to PR and comms teams who want to get involved in charity, not-for-profit causes, or pro bono work in future, but haven’t done it before?
I think first is to reframe our thinking that generosity has to be ‘big’ to be impactful, and secondly that generosity comes in all different forms. It’s not just about giving money – if we can get to a world where we’re all reliably giving our time, talents, skills, passions, energy, and network, too – that’s what’s really going to help us build the world we all want to live in together. So think about what cause really fires you up then think about what gifts you have to give and more from there. It’s going to take every single one of us.
What are your ultimate aims for this year’s GivingTuesday?
My dream would be to see the whole world talking about generosity. Let’s talk about giving in the news, on TV, on the radio, and across social media so that we can grow more of it.
For more on GivingTuesday, listen to Kathleen Murphy Toms on The Audiences Podcast here.