There’s a time to shop, and a time to give

There’s a line in the Burt Bachrach song “Alfie” that goes, “Are we meant to take more than we give?”  Marketers and retailers, along with several other enterprises, stoutly answered “no” to that question yesterday. The organizations that brought you Black Friday and Cyber Monday issued forth #GivingTuesday, a day that consumers possessed with what used to be known as the true holiday spirit.

Founding entities including Microsoft, Simon Malls, New York’s 92nd Street Y, and the United Way are asking other companies and consumers to use the 12 days beginning November 27 to give freely to charities as the ultimate holiday gesture.

“When we talked to people at corporations about helping this effort get started, it was great to see how eager they were to take part, to three days after Black Friday turn their brands around 180 degrees and connect with consumers in an entirely different way,” says Michael Nilsen, spokesman for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which helped get #GivingTuesday off the ground.

The newly designated day got prime attention on Twitter, with posts from celebrities such as actress Fran Drescher, singer Shakira, and rock band Linkin Park.  Bill Gates tweeted, “Everyone knows about BlackFriday and CyberMonday. Now help me spread the word about #GivingTuesday.”

A website,, appeared yesterday offering consumers and companies several ways to get involved in the effort. The White House website feature a blog written by Special Assistant to the President Jonathon Greenblatt declaring, “Today, we celebrate Giving Tuesday, a new nationwide effort to raise attention and motivate action for the common good. It’s a trend worth encouraging.”

Several direct marketers and agencies jumped aboard the effort, including mobile marketing company Session M, which operates points programs for members who do business with their clients online. It promoted #GivingTuesday with a display on the charitable giving section of its rewards page offering to match a point for every point donated to charity by their members. “In 12 hours we had 200 posts about it on Facebook,” says Session M Senior Director of Marketing Deb Powsner. “Our clients are excited about it, too. How can anyone not be excited about doing something so great?”

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