Giving Tuesday

What Is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is a global initiative that encourages people and organizations to donate their time and money to charitable causes on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States. The initiative was created in 2012 as a joint project of New York City’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.

With its focus on altruism and awareness of those in need, the Giving Tuesday movement is a counterweight to the consumerism embodied by the events that immediately precede it on the calendar: Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Key Takeaways

  • The Giving Tuesday initiative was started in 2012 as a way to encourage people throughout the world to focus on altruism, whether by making financial donations or doing good in one’s community.
  • Giving Tuesday takes place on the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
  • The event has raised billions of dollars in charitable contributions for nonprofit organizations.

Understanding Giving Tuesday

Leaders at the 92nd Street Y in New York City—92Y, for short—launched Giving Tuesday as an effort to focus on benevolence during the early holiday season, when sales events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday often command the public’s attention. The idea was to unleash a wide array of charitable efforts, from organizing local food drives to making donations that support anti-hunger initiatives worldwide.

In 2012, Asha Curran, then 92Y’s chief innovation officer, and Henry Timms, who was the executive director, traveled across the country to promote the idea. The center was able to draw vital support from the United Nations Foundation, which became the initiative’s co-founder.

In almost a decade since, the idea has gained a large following, spurring billions of dollars in financial donations to nonprofits worldwide. The hashtag #GivingTuesday has become a popular tool to inspire generosity among social media users.

Giving Tuesday spun off from 92Y in 2019, becoming an independent organization named GivingTuesday, with Curran serving as its chief executive director (CEO). According to its website, the organization’s goal is “to create a more just and generous world, one where generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity, and equity around the globe.”

34.8 million

The number of people who participated in Giving Tuesday in 2020.

Decentralized Structure

From its start, Giving Tuesday has seen its mission as encouraging altruism, both through personal efforts and by giving one’s time and resources to nonprofit entities. It provides various resources—including organizing and communication tools—to assist nonprofits that participate in the event.

According to the GivingTuesday website, organizations can capitalize on the awareness generated by the event in a number of ways, whether by creating volunteer-driven events, developing fundraising campaigns, or hosting guest speakers. It also encourages businesses and nonprofit groups to amplify the message of giving back by using the hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media. 

The movement has also fostered the development of philanthropic efforts tailored to local needs and specific groups. More than 240 Giving Tuesday communities have sprouted up in the United States, including groups using the hashtags #GivingBlackTuesday, #iGiveCatholic, #GivingTuesdayLGBTQ, and #GivingTuesdayMilitary.

The GivingTuesday organization does not receive funds on behalf of charitable entities⁠—nonprofits receive the donations directly.

Global Impact 

More than 2,500 nonprofit organizations took part in Giving Tuesday in its initial year, raising approximately $12 million in funds through online donations. Since then, the movement’s impact has increased dramatically, with the 2020 event helping to generate $2.47 billion in total donations in the United States alone, a 25% increase from 2019. The day has developed into a global phenomenon, with nearly 75 countries claiming their own national Giving Tuesday movements.

A number of key corporate and philanthropic partners have helped bolster donations by offering matching funds on individual donations. For example, Facebook has added the option of “Donate” buttons to its profile page for nonprofits, and has pledged $8 million in Giving Tuesday matching funds in 2021, up from $7 million in 2020.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, GivingTuesday created #GivingTuesdayNow, an event that took place on May 5, 2020, to spur donations, civic engagement, and volunteerism to combat the health crisis. The one-time event raised more than $503 million in online donations and spawned a social media presence in more than 145 countries around the globe.

Tax Deduction for Donations 

Taxpayers who itemize their deductions have an extra incentive to make contributions on Giving Tuesday and at other points throughout the year, as those donations reduce their taxable income. The number of households who itemize shrank considerably after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017. The TJCA eliminated many individual deductions and nearly doubled the standard deduction. It went into effect in 2018 and lasts through 2025.

Thanks to some changes made regarding 2020 federal taxes, at least some of the tax incentive for making charitable contributions returned. Under the relief package known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allowed households to use up to $300 of qualified donations as above-the-line deductions on their 2020 taxes, which means that even filers who use the standard deduction can receive a tax benefit. For 2021, it’s $300 per person, so couples filing jointly can take up to $600. Amounts in excess of $300 per person may not be carried forward as a deduction in subsequent tax years.

When is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. In 2021, it takes place on Nov. 30.

How much does Giving Tuesday raise?

In 2020, Giving Tuesday raised $2.47 billion in total donations in the United States. This amount was 25% more than the previous year.

How can I participate in Giving Tuesday?

There are numerous ways to participate in Giving Tuesday. You can donate your time or money to a charitable cause. Promoting the movement and altruism by using the hashtag #GivingTuesday on social media is another way.

Article Sources

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  2. The New York Times. “On Giving Tuesday, ‘No Act of Giving Is Too Small’.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  3. Rotary International. “Giving Tuesday Has Turned Philanthropy Into an Event for Everyone.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  4. GivingTuesday. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  5. GivingTuesday. “After Year of Global Crisis, Millions Respond with Massive Swell of Generosity and Shared Humanity on GivingTuesday 2020.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  6. GivingTuesday. “Resources.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

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  8. Nonprofits Source. “Giving Tuesday Statistics for Nonprofits.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  9. GivingTuesday. “The GivingTuesday Global Network.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  10. Facebook. “How Do I Add a Donate Button to My Organization’s Facebook Page?” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  11. Facebook. “What Is Happening on Facebook for GivingTuesday?” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  12. GivingTuesday. “GivingTuesday Announces Day of Global Action for Giving and Unity in Response to COVID-19.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  13. GivingTuesday. “#GivingTuesdayNow Impact Report.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  14. Tax Policy Center. “Key Elements of the U.S. Tax System.” Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.

  15. Internal Revenue Service. “Expanded Tax Benefits Help Individuals and Businesses Give to Charity During 2021; Deductions Up to $600 Available for Cash Donations by Non-itemizers.” Accessed Nov. 11, 2021.

  16. U.S. Congress. “S.3548 — CARES Act,” Section 2104. Accessed Nov. 8, 2021.