Peter Van Tilburg, executive director of Bike Clark County, joked that Giving Tuesday should fall on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving — because then people wouldn’t have spent all their money on holiday gifts.
Alas, the annual day of charitable giving falls after Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — all those marketing monikers meant to kick off the holiday shopping season.
Giving Tuesday was conceived by a team at the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City in 2012. Now, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is recognized in more than 150 countries. Among its major supporters is the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Southwest Washington has its own unofficial giving holiday, Give More 24!, which was celebrated on Sept. 20. Jeanne Kojis, executive director of Nonprofit Network Southwest Washington said a lot of groups don’t participate in Giving Tuesday because they can potentially be duplicating efforts and it can be a “heavy lift internally,” taking time and resources to get the word out to supporters.
Homeless service provider Share is one of the larger nonprofits in Clark County that’s more practiced at fundraising campaigns.
Jessica Lightheart said they use Giving Tuesday to ask people to donate money for something tangible, because “that seems to resonate with folks.” Last year, the campaign for a washer/dryer set came up short, but the year before that they were able to replace the oven at Share House, the men’s homeless shelter.
“That got a tremendous response,” Lightheart said.
This year, Share is aiming to raise $14,000 to purchase 12 recycled steel bunk beds to replace old wood bunk beds at its family shelters. Lightheart said more people are becoming aware of Giving Tuesday, but it can be hard for a nonprofit to get the word out depending on its size.
Van Tilburg said this is Bike Clark County’s first time participating in Giving Tuesday. The smaller nonprofit is primarily fundraising for summer camps and high school bicycle mechanics classes and other cycling and education-related programs.
“We also take donations of bikes and bike parts,” Van Tilburg added.
He pointed out that news organizations, including NPR, have reported that increases in the standard deductions can minimize the incentive for middle-class taxpayers to donate to charity. Taxpayers get reminders to make tax-deductible donations around this time, before the end of the year.
To incentivize giving, Facebook is matching a total of up to $7 million in donations made via Facebook.
Vancouver-based Furry Friends aims to take advantage of those available dollars. Diane Stevens said this is the first time the cat shelter is participating in Giving Tuesday, and the goal is to raise $10,000. In June, the shelter began caring for 10 cats that came from a hoarding situation in Cowlitz County. The money will go toward their care and medications. One kitten’s care cost about $3,000 and two other cats with missing eyeballs will undergo surgery costing around $1,500 each.
“It’s been a huge labor,” Stevens said.
One benefit of Giving Tuesday, she said, is that it’s less labor intensive than other fundraisers. The nonprofit does an annual auction in September that takes about 1,500 volunteer hours to organize. She imagines that about 30 hours will be spent creating marketing materials (newsletters, social media posts, etc.) to encourage people to support them on Giving Tuesday.
Besides raising money, Alix Danielsen said Giving Tuesday is another opportunity to let more people know about an organization. Danielsen, executive director of Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, said many people in the Portland metro area don’t know about the local wildlife refuges.
“We look at Giving Tuesday as both a way to raise funds and introduce people to the refuge,” she said.
Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge would like to up its cultural and educational offerings by, for instance, expanding its Sunday speaker series, cataloging and protecting a growing collection of artifacts and planting First Nation foods around the Plank House, and there’s always habitat restoration work to be done somewhere in the approximately 5,300-acre refuge. The year may be ending, but this is really the kickoff season for local nonprofits, Danielsen said.
“These 24-hour giving days allow us to maximize our resources and efforts for one day,” she said.