Giving Tuesday goes local as it goes viral

Area organizations spent Tuesday calling to the community for support

Giving Tuesday donations are largely driven by social media channels.

Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

Social media channels have been ablaze with #GivingTuesday today as organizations across southeastern Wisconsin take advantage of the holiday to rally awareness and raise funds for their missions.

Giving Tuesday donations are largely driven by social media channels.
Giving Tuesday donations are largely driven by social media channels.

Giving Tuesday, now in its fourth year, has grown into an international movement aimed at inspiring people to give back to community causes.

“It’s really a new tool for what’s an age-old effort in terms of giving,” said William Martin, president of Milwaukee-based human services consulting firm Jericho Resources, Inc.

While still a relatively young day in the lineup of spending holidays – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – Giving Tuesday is gaining popularity, particularly among organizations that have a strong social media presence, Martin said.

Social media has become a significant accelerator behind Giving Tuesday, according to Martin, who said that the day’s designated hashtag (#GivingTuesday) allows its message of giving back to be reinforced around the globe.

While garnering financial contributions for nonprofits is one of the primary goals of Giving Tuesday, raising mission awareness and broadcasting volunteer opportunities are also central to the holiday, Martin said.

He has seen social media users reach out to discuss projects they could take part in, he said, and he has observed nonprofits across focus areas using the day to leverage their missions.

The kinds of causes involved are “across the board,” Martin said.

The important thing is that it’s an opportunity for everyone to find a way “to get in where you fit in,” he added.

Make A Difference – Wisconsin is taking a stance of gratitude with its involvement in Giving Tuesday after first entering the Giving Tuesday arena last year. The organization, which equips area teens with financial education skills and resources, is devoting much of its Giving Tuesday efforts to “giving thanks” for ways individuals have contributed to its financial literacy programs, said Justin Kern, marketing and communications manager.

In thanking its supporters, the organization is shining a light on Milwaukee’s up-and-coming youth by spotlighting 19-year-old Imani, who has come to love the city because of the area family members, friends and community organizations like Make A Difference that have supported her.

Make A Difference approached Giving Tuesday with a push to raise awareness of its programming and share its mission, according to Kern.

“We didn’t really view this as something that was vital to bring in funds,” he said.

The nonprofit is still collecting funds through the holiday but did not put forth a financial goal.

Kern sees Giving Tuesday as one for community members “to take a step aside and realize the deeper meaning of the season,” he said.

“I think that’s incredibly valuable for all nonprofits,” he said.

Creative Alliance Milwaukee, which works to promote and expand the region’s creative industries, also did not pinpoint a specific fundraising goal for Giving Tuesday. The nonprofit, participating in the holiday for the first time this year, is pairing its Giving Tuesday fundraising efforts with fundraising efforts it set in motion earlier this year when it was awarded a challenge grant from the Herzfeld Foundation. Through that grant, the foundation will match every dollar CAM generates by the end of the 2015 up to $50,000.

Among the initiatives to benefit from grant dollars is The Spot 4MKE, a vacant downtown lot along 5th Street and Wisconsin Avenue that CAM is working to enliven and reactivate with community-based art.

“For us, Giving Tuesday has a double opportunity,” said Maggie Jacobus, president and chief executive officer, highlighting CAM’s focus on raising funds toward the Herzfeld Foundation grant.

With so many nonprofits raise their hand for public support today, CAM is being “judicious” and “intentional” in its asks, Jacobus said, as the organization primarily turns to its base of supporters.

“As you can imagine, Giving Tuesday is a pretty crowded playing field, and so on the one hand it’s a great opportunity,” Jacobus said. “On the other hand, everyone is out on the same day.”

That makes it both exciting and challenging, she said.

As a whole, the day presents “a great opportunity to raise the profile of philanthropy in general,” Jacobus said.

“Giving Tuesday sort of reminds people that there are organizations that are nonprofits that rely on contributed income in order to function and to serve the community,” she said.

ArtWorks for Milwaukee is another of those nonprofits whose engine is fueled by contributed income. The organization, which runs art-related internships for area teenagers, has participated in Giving Tuesday for the last three years with “a grassroots” approach,” said Terry Murphy, executive director.

“It’s a grassroots thing, and we’re building,” Murphy said. “For us, it’s just a great way to get awareness out about our mission and artwork.”

ArtWorks for Milwaukee aims to raise at least $1,000 for its internship programs.

As individual organizations vie for awareness and dollars all day, Murphy said Giving Tuesday benefits the nonprofit sector as a whole.

“”If we can have one holiday that’s focused on giving to nonprofits, that’s huge for all the nonprofits,” she said.

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