By Vicki Biggs
After observing a global effort launched a year ago to inspire personal philanthropy, the LCMS is joining in that movement called “Giving Tuesday” — a coordinated effort calling people around the world to make a difference through charitable giving.
The Synod is promoting Giving Tuesday — this year on Tuesday, Dec. 3 — with a special “Give Graciously, Give Globally” effort intended to increase the capacity of its Global Mission Fund. (A poster about the emphasis, designed for sharing with congregations, schools and others, is included with the November print Reporter.) Gifts to the Global Mission Fund are immediately directed wherever they are needed most in the world to carry out the church’s Witness, Mercy, Life Together ministry.
“It can be a challenge to explain the impact of the Global Mission Fund in a few words,” said Mark Hofman, executive director of Mission Advancement for the LCMS. “Essentially, when a specific witness or mercy effort requires financial resources now, but dollars specifically designated for that work are unavailable or not sufficient to initiate the work, we are able to draw resources from the Global Mission Fund to get that work going.”
Giving Tuesday follows on the heels of “Cyber Monday,” “Small Business Saturday” and “Black Friday” — annual promotional events that profit the retail industry and kick off the holiday shopping frenzy. In a full-circle move, Giving Tuesday organizers conceived the idea of a day for amplifying small acts of kindness through charitable giving in an effort to change the world for the better. Giving Tuesday campaigns generally center on online giving.
“As stewards of God’s gifts, it makes sense for us to lift the Global Mission Fund up as part of Giving Tuesday because anyone, anywhere can participate in sharing the Gospel through word and deed, through a gift in any amount,” Hofman said. “Giving online is one of the most cost-effective ways to move dollars to the Lord’s harvest field, and so participating in the annual Giving Tuesday push was an opportunity we couldn’t ignore. When people in the LCMS hear or read about Giving Tuesday in the national media, we want them to know they can participate as Christian stewards in ways that enhance LCMS national and international mission efforts.”
Originally launched in 2012 by the New York City-based nonprofit community center “92nd Street Y,” Giving Tuesday was embraced by the United Nations Foundation and a veritable “who’s who” of corporate partners from the “social good world,” including Facebook, Groupon and Mashable. This year, the movement’s for-profit partners will encourage more charitable giving during the 2013 Christmas season, and its nonprofit partners likely will engage in special campaigns on that Dec. 3 to enlist support for specific programs or services.
“Across the country, Giving Tuesday partners will be reaching out to their constituents, asking them to support their favorite charities,” said Hofman. “This is a day set aside to uphold nonprofits and support them with financial gifts. At the beginning of the ‘season of giving,’ what could be better than sharing the Gospel with someone who doesn’t know Christ or who is growing in their faith, through a potent and agile charitable donation?”
According to reports, the first Giving Tuesday observance — held Nov. 27, 2012 — sparked a dramatic increase in charitable giving. Blackbaud, Inc., a nonprofit software provider serving a number of Giving Tuesday partners, processed more than $10 million in gifts to charitable organizations on that day. DonorPerfect, another nonprofit software provider, reported a 46 percent increase over gifts on the same day the year before and the e-commerce merchant Paypal saw a monumental 487 percent increase in mobile giving over the previous year’s number. These organizations also reported increases in the size of individual gifts.
At this writing, the LCMS was among 3,151 organizations registered online at givingtuesday.org as partners in the initiative. Other partners include the American Red Cross, The Salvation Army and United Way. Constituents are encouraged to use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to connect on social media.
Vicki Biggs is director of Public Relations for the Synod.