Launched in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday was conceived as a response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday – a way to bring awareness to nonprofits and encourage charitable giving. Fueled largely by social media, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving has come to be known as #GivingTuesday, a day when nonprofit organizations make direct appeals for donations.
Last year as Giving Tuesday approached, Heather McGinness, Vice President for Advancement at Concordia College, began to think about the fact that while Concordia, like all nonprofits, makes many appeals throughout the year, perhaps the school doesn’t say thank you as often as it could. What if instead of asking donors for support yet again, the College used Giving Tuesday to thank them instead? And why stop at thanking donors? Why not take this opportunity to express the very real gratitude Concordia feels for its entire community? The result: ThanksGiving Tuesday was born: a day of giving gratitude rather than asking for support.
The day kicks off with a midnight breakfast served by college leadership – including President John Nunes, Senior Director of Student Experience Monique Nunes and McGinness – as a thank you to students. Throughout the day, there are numerous ways for students, faculty and staff to share and receive thanks. Thank You Grams are written and delivered around campus, to students, faculty/staff, our community and to donors. President Nunes can be found answering the College’s main phone line after a road trip with Provost Sherry Fraser, delivering personal thanks to the school’s partnering institutions. Messages of thanks will be shared throughout social media with the hashtag #ThanksGivingTuesday, students give back in the community, and all gather for a campus-wide Thank You Rally.
While ThanksGiving Tuesday has become an important tradition at Concordia, philanthropic circles have taken notice as well. The 2016 thank you email McGinness sent to donors, alumni, friends, church partners, community members, parents, Regents and everyone else who has shared their email with Concordia caught the attention of The Agitator, a blog devoted to nonprofit fundraising and marketing strategies. They gave McGinness their Agitator Raise award, writing, “In the flood of #GivingTuesday emails washing over our in-boxes yesterday, one powerful message stood out. This elegantly simple message of gratitude represents everything that #GivingTuesday – the Big Box Store approach to fundraising – does not.…No wonder the school’s tagline reads: Small school. BIG IMPACT.” ThanksGiving Tuesday also won the 2017 Creativity Award for Excellence in Philanthropy from ALDE, the Association of Lutheran Development Executives.
As McGinness put it, “One of the most meaningful outcomes of the day is that it brings everyone together and helps them feel valued for their role in our mission. That’s how lasting relationships are formed and that’s how missions move forward.”