With the start of the holidays upon us, many of us have turned our attention to the inevitable: Christmas shopping. Thanksgiving week starts the marathon off with Black Friday followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. All three days are well-branded excuses to spend more money than you were planning on.
The surge of consumerism this time of year can be overwhelming. In response to the swelling tide, the United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y launched #GivingTuesday back in 2012, and it’s been growing exponentially ever since. Nonprofits raised $46 million in association with the global event last week according to early estimates. In a season marked by spending, something as timely as Giving Tuesday reminds us about the importance of a different kind of investing: Investing in ideas, causes, worthy objectives, and in general, other things other than ourselves.
In honor of this reminder, here’s a look at the common trends that are motivating our giving in 2014:
- We like to invest in ideas. Photos of starving children don’t stir us to donate, rather they stir us to care about fixing the root of the problem. We want to donate toward something that will help prevent poverty, hunger and trafficking altogether. Have you noticed the term “social enterprise” is on the rise? As the discussion on development and market-based solutions is advancing, so is our interest in innovative ideas to donate to. Or rather invest in.
- Our buying looks like our giving. Many creatives and entrepreneurs have recognized the opportunity to blend social impact with business. This competition has driven an increase in the quality of socially-benefitting goods, and they’re no longer just unworn beaded bracelets from Africa. Many of them are really cool and mainstream now. Check out Boll & Branch’s comfy fair trade and organic throw blankets, or these leather bags and jewelry from fashionABLE.
- The experience should be gratifying. The cost of traditional entertainment is through the roof these days. Since we go to the movies less these days (the cost of that alone rivals a nice meal out), we instead hope our donation experience will give us some level of satisfaction. Raffles for VIP meet and greets, stickers for our laptop or even a innovative thank you video go a long way. Kickstarter’s Founder just started Dollar a Day, where you commit to donate a dollar each day, and they send you an email each morning with the story of the non-profit your dollar went to. That’s one drawn out way of donating $365.
- The way we carry money has changed. We are not carrying around cash, and we’re definitely not carrying around checkbooks. But we have Venmo, and many churches now offer digital giving from the touch of your phone. At eChurchGiving we’ve found that 85 percent of users abandon mobile giving attempts if the transaction takes longer than 30 seconds. Average experiences for online giving can take up to three or more minutes. That’s a major lost opportunity for most charities and churches.
- Yes, our Instagram’s do matter. While “slacktivism” has a bad rap, we believe that aside from our money, the next most valuable thing we have is our personal brand. Much of the way we share ideas and learn about new ones is through social media. From running creative fundraising and awareness campaigns to posting pictures of our hands, yeah, Instagram selfies do really matter.
- It’s cool to care. I grew up in an era where it was cool not to care, about anything. Sagging pants, oversized hoodies, poor posture, and one word answers, these were the character traits of many popular figures. Thankfully, that’s not the case anymore. The rise of technology has made intellect a valued commodity. Combine that with the shared desire to leave the world a better place, it’s all of a sudden really really cool to care. And not just to care, but to do something about it.