Giving Tuesday

Created in 2012 as a sort of anti-Black Friday, #GivingTuesday is a social media campaign that encourages charitable giving and generosity.

It was launched by New York City-based nonprofit 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, and has expanded to connect individuals, corporations, small businesses and nonprofits throughout the world in a global day of giving. In 2013, 10,000 partner organizations joined #GivingTuesday (and the effort earned 1.2 billion media impressions). According to preliminary data for this year, nearly $46 million worth of donations was made on Dec. 2.

Locally, a number of businesses and nonprofits participated in the campaign as a way to raise funds and awareness.

But Honolulu Community Action Program (HCAP) took that idea one step further, with a series of outreach activities leading up to #GivingTuesday. HCAP is a nonprofit that strives to help low-income individuals and families attain self-sufficiency through a range of services that include transitional housing, employment services and early education programs. Each year, HCAP serves more than 20,000 individuals.

This was HCAP’s second year participating in #GivingTuesday. It joined last year mainly as a vehicle to increase its social media and online presence. That venture proved effective — HCAP social media accounts have gained a few hundred additional followers since then — but the organization felt it could do more.

“That is pretty much what our agency is about,” explains HCAP director of planning, program development and communications Michael Hane. “We are here to help low-income individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency. All of these activities kind of relate to the mission of our agency.

“We just want participation, whether it be monetary or doing these different projects,” he adds.

HCAP enlisted its various programs to conduct community service activities. Its Leeward District Service Center, for example, hosted a day of entertainment for kupuna, while the Windward District Service Center conducted a beautification project at its facility with the help of community volunteers.

A group of keiki in HCAP’s early education Head Start program created cheery holiday cards to share with the recipients of Lanakila Meals on Wheels. Another group of Head Start students crafted holiday cards for other children being treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children.

“It was a good way to get our program participants involved as well,” Hane says.

One of HCAP’s largest efforts in affiliation with #GivingTuesday came from its Youth Services program, which helps at-risk youths ages 16-21 attain higher education and employment.

“The Youth Services students had noticed the homeless problem in the Kakaako area, and they know that there are a lot of families at (Next Step) Shelter,” explains Youth Services program coordinator Krystal Ikeda.

The group ran a collection drive, gathering basics like toiletries and blankets — and was able to garner 23 supply packs for the families living there.

“Although these youths don’t have much, they still wanted to get donations to give to people who are needier than they are,” says HCAP planning and development specialist Tehani Diaz. “They felt great to be able to give back and help the people that are living there.”

Through all of this, HCAP’s main downtown office also was conducting a clothing drive for Big Brothers Big Sisters Hawaii and encouraged its own staff and board to make a financial donation back into HCAP.

“We hope that this continues to grow and build, but most importantly, it always starts within your agency,” Hane says. “If we can first get our staff on board, our participants on board, then I think we have that chance to have it spread to others.”

Other local organizations that participated in #GivingTuesday included Hawaii Habitat for Humanity, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Hawaii Food-bank, Hawaii Audubon Society and Hawaii Community Foundation.

For a few of these groups, #GivingTuesday has proven to be a profitable fundraising campaign. The food bank raised more than $3,500 during last year’s event. Hawaii Audubon Society, which is largely dependent on donations, joined the campaign as a way to rebuild its educational and outreach programs after funding cuts.

Hawaii Community Foundation also was involved with #GivingTuesday — utilizing the campaign to promote giving in general.

“We really just wanted to encourage people to think about giving in Hawaii and the difference that it will make,” says Hawaii Community Foundation associate director of communications Lynelle Marble, “and to get people to think about how we can give back to those organizations that are really trying to tackle problems that are so important in our community.”