Give thanks with #GivingTuesday
November 21, 2014 11:35 am •
BYU graduate Aaron H. Sherinian considers himself a global extrovert and is using his natural exuberance — as well as a lot of hard work — to promote #GivingTuesday, an international movement he works on year round.
“We have a day for giving thanks on the fourth Thursday of every November,” says Sherinian, the Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for the United Nations Foundation. “Then with Black Friday and Cyber Monday immediately following, we have two days for getting deals. Now we have #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back and a perfect way to express generosity.”
Sherinian says he’s in the business of making the movement as large as it can get as he works with thousands of partners throughout the world. #GivingTuesday, scheduled for Dec. 2, is an undertaking that touches his heart and he endorses in addition to his regular assignments with the United Nations.
The movement was created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York in partnership with the UN Foundation. In its inaugural year, more than 2,500 organizations participated to help raise more than $10 million. The second year saw more than 10,000 partners representing the United States and 46 countries, contributing more than $19 million.
This year many more companies have joined the efforts in varying degrees, including Bonneville Communications (BonCom) and MadewithStudio.com, which under the direction of BYU alumnus Bradley D. Hagen, created an app that allows people to use the #GivingTuesday logo on their selfies, or what are being called “unselfies.”
Sherinian calls the core of the effort a “PR potluck for good.”
The concept is simple. On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, families, individuals, businesses, communities, companies and others identify the charity of their choice, go online and donate to causes in which they believe. It can be anything from an orphanage halfway around the world to a university, a dog shelter or an arts organization, or a food coalition. Through social media participants will share how they have been part of this giving movement. Of course, people are welcome to donate any day of the year, but #GivingTuesday brings giving to the front of the mind for one day every year.
“I believe we live in an era when the concept of philanthropy is being reinvented,” Sherinian says. “You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a difference. You can give back in many ways. This is a day for giving online and showing your capacity for caring. The day of the check and envelope is ending.
“When I left BYU, I took the motto, ‘The world is our campus’ seriously, whether that meant being a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Department of State or a press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Quito, Ecuador. #GivingTuesday is clearly a way to make the world our campus.”
“Aaron is probably the most connected person I have ever met,” says another BYU graduate, John W. Dye, the director of Digital Media for BonCom. “We brought in creative Mormon think tankers from out-of-state two years ago, and we included Aaron. I have never met anyone quite like him, and he knows more people than anyone I know. When he invited us to be part of #GivingTuesday, he absolutely convinced us that we wanted to work with him. We met several times and created a video that was shown in the White House. It can be seen on YouTube.”
Tens of millions spread the #GivingTuesday word through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social and traditional platforms. Celebrity endorsements have poured in, including Bill Gates, Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, Hugh Jackman and an endorsement from The White House. There have been 1.3 billion media impressions were recorded in one week, a billion of them online. Sherinian says participation has already increased substantially over 2013.
“People look for ways to do good things,” Sherinian says. “And many people do their donations near the end of the year. We like having #GivingTuesday a few weeks earlier, because we have learned that people are even more generous when they have a little more time. With #GivingThursday, the choice is and they make it without pressure.”