What is #GivingTuesday?

We have a day of Thanksgiving, then a day for shopping deals on “Black Friday”, then a day to shop at local businesses  (#smallbusinesssaturday) and a day for online deals (#cybermonday).

#GivingTuesday is a movement that began in 2012 in response to the commercialization and over consumption that takes place between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The idea is to focus on the joy of giving and celebrate generosity.    In just a few years the day has taken hold and been embraced by families, businesses, non-profits, community centers and students around the world.

The church, as usual, has been a little slow to catch on to this movement.  Is it a gimmick? Sure.  But it has been a very successful gimmick for non-profits who have taken advantage of it.

According to an article in Forbes Magazine, “Why Companies Should Care About Giving Tuesday“, online giving increased 90% for 3,800 nonprofits (more than $19.2 million) on GivingTuesday last year.

The astounding success of the “Bucket Challenge”, which raised over $100 million for the ALS Foundation in just a few weeks, is proof that people can and want to be generous.  We just need to engage that generosity in new ways.  Campaigns like the bucket challenge and #GivingTuesday show that social media can be used in ways other than exploiting consumerism.  It can also bring out the generosity of people in new and creative ways.

In the early days of the church, church leaders adapted local cultural events and made them relevant to the teachings of the church.  Using social media campaigns like “GivingTuesday” to teach stewardship and generosity is no different.   There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun with your generosity.

For example, one of the activities of #GivingTuesday is inviting people to take an “unselfie”—a photo of themselves supporting their favorite charity and tagging it #GivingTuesday.  What if you encouraged members to upload selfies with the name of your congregation?

We at the Northeastern Iowa Synod are inviting folks to consider gifts to our ministries on #GivingTuesday. A gift to the synod supports the work of the church in Northeastern Iowa, including pastor recruitment and training, geographical parishes to help congregations remain vital, youth and family ministry, campus ministry, Barnabas Uplift to help people find jobs, local hunger ministries, administration of the call process, missions and so much more.

Find out how to give online here.

What is your church doing to encourage gifts to your ministries on #GivingTuesday?

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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.

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