Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now Giving Tuesday. Today is the day dedicated to Americans sharing instead of spending for the benefit of others, their community, worthy endeavors, and the world.

Just two years old, Giving Tuesday was hatched as an idea to generate support for a Y in New York City. Through the #GivingTuesday, charities have raised $12 million in 2012 and $27 million last year for a variety of causes. That translates into an average gift of $100 in 2012 and $142 last year. This year, some are predicting we will give upwards of $54 million dollars to charity this year continuing the tradition of doubling each year.

Following a weekend of excessive eating and spending, Giving Tuesday allows us to exercise our consciences and hearts by giving something away. Think of your favorite charity and how it aims to tackle problems in your neighborhood, city or state. Giving Tuesday is a marketplace for donors of all sizes to finds causes they desire to give to. Not dreamed up by an “expert” in Washington or coordinated by bureaucrats in a federal agency, Giving Tuesday is an example of how private solutions – not government action – are stepping in to meet needs.

The Desert News reports:

Giving Tuesday launched in 2012 as a partnershp between the 92 Street Y in New York City and the United Nations Foundation as an alternative to the commercially branded Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since then, it has raised $40,000 for causes and grown to include 10,000 companies, foundations and organizations to encourage people to give to a worthy cause as part of the holiday tradition.

Despite the spike in shopping, Americans like to give during the holidays, too. A survey from and Harris Interactive found that 85 percent of Americans have donated to a charitable organization, and 34 percent are more likely to donate during the holiday season.

According to, donation amounts on the site spiked by 42 percent during November and December. Giving Tuesday generates momentum around that impulse to give, and makes it painless and easy.

Part of the grass-roots growth of the movement is thanks to a social media push featuring the "UNselfie" — the selfie with a twist. Giving Tuesday givers take a photo of themselves holding a piece of paper with the name of the charity they support and post it to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtags #unselfie and #GivingTueday.

Last year, over 7,000 Unselfies were posted to social media, and the Giving Tuesday page received over 1.2 billion Facebook likes.

Relying mostly on word-of-mouth and social media, Giving Tuesday increased online giving from 2012 to 2013 by 90 percent, with a 40 percent increase in the average gift size.

Americans are the most generous people on earth giving an estimated $335.17 billion in 2013 – that’s U.S. individuals, corporations, foundations and bequests. We give seven times as much as our European cousins and a large majority of Americans give each year. Between 70 and 90 percent of all U.S. households donate to charity with the typical gifts adding up to $2,000 – $3,000.

A thoughtful piece from The Philanthropy Roundtable puts our giving in context:

  • We give 50 times as much to charity as we give to politics. It’s estimated that this year Americans will give a record $6 billion to political candidates, parties, 529s, super PACs, and other election instruments. Americans routinely give that much to charity every week.
  • We spend 10 times as much on charitable giving as we do on professional sports. The NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL are together expected to earn $24 billion in revenue this year. Americans give that much to charity every month.

Philanthropy is in our blood and DNA as nation. Giving –and choice in giving- goes hand-in-hand with democracy and dates back to our nation’s founding. Instead of waiting on government to solve our problems like citizens of socialist countries, private action and initiative drives us to create our own solutions. It’s for that reason we see poverty alleviation and discovery as more effective in the private/nonprofit sector than government.

The over $300 billion we give amounts to more than 2 percent of our national gross domestic product each year, but imagine if we could move the needle another percent to 3 percent? Imagine what that additional $150 billion could achieve? Cures for diseases like cancer, feeding more hungry families, sending millions more young people to college or classes that prepare them for work in this economy, planting more trees and clearing more waterways from contamination, discovering new energy sources, providing shelters for more homeless youth and families, and fighting for battles of injustice and discrimination.

Giving Tuesday is only a drop in the kettle of our annual giving. But if it continues to pick up steam it can help us move the needle on national giving and remain the leader to countries worldwide on caring for our neighbor, our environment, and our nation.