We’re doing Giving Tuesday this year, y’all.

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Okay, it’s true: Giving Tuesday is as made up as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But the difference is, you’re not contributing to the consumerism of the holiday. Instead, you’re contributing the the betterment of society.

Giving Tuesday, a day of volunteering and donating in service to the community that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, November 28, was created by the 92th Street Y, which is more than a YMCA, it’s a center for culture in New York City, so that’s how that makes sense. It was created in response to the country’s (kinda scary) fervor about “shopping” holidays that kick off the holiday season. (Think about those depressing “doorbusters” where people elbow each other for the $189 50-inch TV…) They just found all that consumerism gross. They also knew that about 30 percent of the country’s giving happens in the last month of the year. (“Oh yeah, I forgot! If we donate money before December 31, we can put that on our tax return and get a deduction,” said all the people who itemize.) So Giving Tuesday seemed like a great, new holiday to kick-off all the great things people do for each other in the last 30 days of the year.

Since it was launched in 2012, Austin hadn’t really participated much. Some of that was because — seriously, another forced fundraising event? But some of it was also because Austin didn’t have a leader showing them the way.

That’s changed this year. This year, our friends at I Live Here, I Give Here — Austin’s fundraising fairy godmother and operator of the spring’s Amplify Austin 24-hour giving day — decided to take on GivingTuesday as a thing. Now that we have a larger organization campaigning for the entire sector, it seems like we’re poised to really take advantage of Giving Tuesday. We could actually turn Austin into a giving city this year, y’all.

This year, I Live Here I Give Here is also highlighting several Central Texas organizations participating in Giving Tuesday: Austin Diaper Bank, Central Texas Food Bank, Caritas, Refugee Services of Texas, Austin Parks Foundation, The Junior League of Austin, Generation Serve, We Are Blood, Austin Pets Alive, SAFE Alliance, Multicultural Refugee Coalition and Big Medium. You can get involved by supporting these organizations through volunteering, fundraising, or donating… and by sharing your story.

In fact, this year, Giving Tuesday will give prizes of $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 to your favorite charity when you submit it to Giving Tuesday contest page. Then you can promote your story on social media with the tag #MyGivingStory, and ask peopleto vote. The 30 stories with the most votes will move into the finals and have a chance to win the donations. So you’re giving could result in even more giving for your favorite charity.

We talked to Celeste Flores, executive director of I Live Here, I Give Here, about how Giving Tuesday could play out in Austin this year:

GC: Austin nonprofits didn’t seem to latch on to Giving Tuesday as a fundraising tool in the past. Is that changing?

ILHIGH: Absolutely! We are excited to mobilize the community and new donors around this important global movement with a single call to action to give back to the causes they care about.

Many local nonprofits have participated in #GivingTuesday in the past, some with successful campaigns and we want to support all those deciding to do one for the first time. We want to make sure that the community knows about #GivingTuesday and are able to connect with local organizations in their backyard that need their support during the final months of the year.

It has become the third biggest day in terms of dollars given worldwide, and the second biggest day worldwide in number of donors. With that, we have seen an increase in traffic and activity on AmplifyATX.org surrounding GivingTuesday over the past few years.

It’s a movement that we have seen organically grow in Central Texas and we felt that there was an opportunity for nonprofit organizations and donor community to benefit from a centralized campaign and marketing push behind the movement.

We have already seen a lot of enthusiasm from the nonprofits we work with about having a centralized effort this year in promoting monthly giving and bringing attention to year-end campaigns. According to reports, nonprofit organizations that kicked off their year end giving on #GivingTuesday raised five times more on average and we at ILHIGH want to help local organizations be a part of this global giving momentum.

A few facets of the Central Texas campaign include a day-long training from one of the founders of #GivingTuesday, and custom tools for the campaign for nonprofits, individuals, and local businesses, as well as a citywide marketing and social media campaign.

Creating new opportunities, a new pipeline and building up the overall capacity for nonprofit organizations is especially important to our mission of cultivating the power of giving back in Central Texas.

GC: What’s different about how Giving Tuesday compared to Amplify?

ILHIGH: Our ongoing goal is to bring new, young and emerging donors to invest in our community year round. But #GivingTuesday is also a huge opportunity for local organizations to be able to show the world all that our community does during each holiday season.

#GivingTuesday in Central Texas is about going beyond a single donation and taking action for change. Amplify Austin Day is a first experience for many donors with a new, local nonprofit organization, and we are hoping that they are motivated during the holiday season to go beyond that initial gift and become a monthly giver or volunteer their time for that organization, building their passion for our community.

Amplify Austin Day (March 1 & 2, 2018) is our community’s day of online giving with a focus on fundraising and monetary donations in Central Texas. Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to celebrate giving of time, talent and treasure. We are focused on all ‘actions-for-good’.

We want to be sure that Central Texas and the inspiring nonprofit sector here is celebrated throughout the world for their generosity. We also want to be sure that local organizations benefit from being a part of that global movement, have the opportunity to connect with new donors worldwide, and that donors engage on social media to inspire their friends, family members and co-workers to give.

GC: Are you encouraging donors to make their gift through the Amplify platform?

ILHIGH: Our platform is a community resource 24/7 365 days a year and it is used year round to make donations, fundraise for your favorite nonprofit and as a resource to find new nonprofits. We encourage Central Texans to use our site, AmplifyATX.org, to donate to multiple nonprofits in one transaction or find a brand new organization to support. We are supporting and measuring all the year-end efforts, activities and people’s choice of actions-for-good as the community leader for GivingTuesday in Central Texas.

Local nonprofits and businesses are reporting in what they are doing on #GivingTuesday and we are encouraging individuals to post on social media their actions-for-good, as well as tracking volunteer hours. It is a movement where anyone can get involved in by taking action-for-good in a way that is most meaningful to them!

GC: What does a successful Giving Tuesday look like in Austin?

ILHIGH: We are challenging the Central Texas community to take ONE MILLION Actions for Good!

You might ask yourself, what is an Action-for-Good? Well some basic examples are listed below:
– Becoming a Monthly Giver
– Volunteering
– Starting a Fundraising Campaign
– Donating to a new Cause
– Spreading the Word and posting using #GivingTuesday #AmplifyATX
– and many more!

Success for Giving Tuesday is galvanizing the community with a global call to action; encouraging new donors and donations; increasing the success and capacity of local nonprofits; and capturing all the good that is happening in Central Texas, as we kick off the holiday giving season.

New this year, donors and businesses will also have the ability to purchase AmplifyATX.org gift cards that can be used online to donate to local organizations. You can give the gift of giving!

GC: Anything else you’d like to share about ILHIGH, Giving Tuesday or anything else related to the holiday season?

ILHIGH: This is a time to give thanks for what our city, community and region gives to us and support the organizations that make this community sustainable. How can we make Central Texas better for all? It starts with you – one donation, one coat, one can, one action. Anyone can give their time, fundraise or spread the word about their passion among family and friends. It can be as simple as starting a conversation around your dinner table during Thanksgiving or even becoming a monthly $10 donor to an organization.

Central Texans are already having a huge impact on the community during the holiday season – we want to make sure that we are celebrating those individuals, businesses, families and nonprofit organizations and we are doing our part to inspire and increase local giving.

Please join us in our challenge to do one million actions-for-good. Visit AmplifyATX.org/GivingTuesday to learn more about all the activities surrounding the day!

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