After stuffing ourselves on Thanksgiving turkey and shopping until we dropped on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, “Giving Tuesday” has been named as the day to give back to those nonprofits we care about but may neglect the other 364 days of the year.

In 2012, this grassroots movement to create a national day celebrating generosity and giving was initiated by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. In its first two years, Giving Tuesday raised nearly $40 million for thousands of nonprofits around the country, with the amount donated in 2012 more than doubled in 2013.

This year, it is predicted that Giving Tuesday will lead to $54 million in charitable donations.  Whole Whale, a digital agency that leverages data and technology to increase the impact of nonprofits, predicts this increase for three reasons:

  1. The number of participating nonprofit organizations is expected to grow from 7,000 to 15,000 in 2014, based on early registration activity and the number of organizations that participated in 2013. The recent viral success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has also proven that social media is a powerful platform for driving online donations, which will likely help fuel the giving flames this Giving Tuesday.
  2. The number of Google Searches for “Giving Tuesday” has more than doubled this year from last year at this time.
  3. U.S. GDP is estimated to increase in 2014 and charitable donations are directly corollary to GDP.

However, not everyone is a fan of Giving Tuesday. Tom Watson, contributor to Forbes.com and self-proclaimed “philanthropy insider”, contends that while he still has some concerns around whether or not Giving Tuesday is a way to encourage sustainable giving activity long-term. In his article last fall, Watson noted that the three days of spending in the commercial sphere preceding Giving Tuesday are “not exactly the hallmarks of engaged philanthropy, cause-building, and volunteerism”. He is also not convinced that “being the caboose to a four-day shop-a-thon is the best way to expand philanthropy and inspire more people to get deeply involved in the causes that can change the way millions of people live”.

Nevertheless, Giving Tuesday presents an undeniable opportunity for your organization to bring in additional cash when people already have their wallets out. Whole Whale offers some suggestions on how to do so in their piece “29 Ideas for #GivingTuesday 2014 you haven’t thought of” – for example, cultivate new donors through a “friend raising” campaign that encourages current supporters to invite their friends to join the effort, or put a progress meter on your website that allows users to see progress toward goals. Whole Whale cautions, though, that your Giving Tuesday campaign should not take your attention away from your other fundraising efforts. Rather, it should function as a quick, fun and – most importantly – low cost way to inspire people to give to your cause.

As always, I encourage those that participate in Giving Tuesday to track results so the following year’s campaign expectations can be calibrated based on previous years’ performance.

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