Millions of consumers spent more money online than ever before on Cyber Monday, and local charities are hoping to snag a little bit of that cash to support good causes.
Giving Tuesday, a global event in its fifth year that focuses on charitable giving, encourages consumers to take a step back from the buying frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to focus on the less fortunate.
The amount that will be raised for charities pales in comparison to what consumers bought during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend. According to Adobe Digital Insights, consumers spent more than $3.45 billion online Monday, a 12-percent increase from last year. That marked the biggest day of online sales in history, and the amount came in about 2.6 percent over original sales predictions.
“It’s an incredible milestone, but it’s also incredible that Black Friday inched so close to Cyber Monday this year, generating only $110 million less in online sales,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for Adobe Digital Insights. “We’ll be watching this closely next year as Black Friday could be the one to top the records.”
$116M for charities
Last year, about 700,000 people gave more than $116 million to charities during Giving Tuesday. The charitable day started in 2012 by a group of New Yorkers who were disturbed by the emphasis on materialism during Black Friday. Locally, nonprofits are reaching out to consumers to give generously during the holidays.
Local organizations that are participating in Giving Tuesday this year include the Ronald McDonald House, the Jewish Federation of Dayton, Dayton Children’s Hospital, United Way of the Greater Dayton Area, St. Vincent De Paul Dayton, Equitas Health and the Antioch Writer’s Workshop in Yellow Springs.
“We’re definitely trying to get the word out through email and social media,” said Hannah Krafka, marketing and communications coordinator for St. Vincent De Paul. “The big thing is $28 provides a night of shelter for someone. It’s 24 hours of meals, showers, a bed and case management.”
Universities also jump at the opportunity to bring in donations from alumni and the community. The University of Dayton Writers’ Workshop received a $20,000 challenge gift from one donor. The organization sent out an email explaining that all donations to the workshop will be matched dollar for dollar up to $20,000 until Dec. 31.
The University of Cincinnati offered a special Giving Tuesday promotion. Alumni who make a gift of $10 or more through its website will receive a “limited-edition” UC ornament featuring the 1980 Bearcat.
Wright State University had a page up on its website dedicated to the day: “You’re stuffed with turkey. You’re shopped out. Renew your holiday spirit by helping Wright State University celebrate #GivingTuesday.”
The university encouraged people to make a gift to a scholarship or program at Wright State such as the Boonshoft School of Medicine or the University Alumni Association. Donors — who had already given more than $4,000, according to the website — simply click on a button and input their credit card information to give to the school.
Online sales have had a big impact on business, bringing in $40 billion in revenue this month. Likewise, charities and organizations are using email campaigns and social media to draw people to their websites. In 2015, charities saw a 26 percent increase in visits to their websites on Giving Tuesday compared to the rest of the holiday season, according to Adobe.
App for charity
One local company is also taking advantage of the online consumer trend — and it is helping nonprofits. Kettering-based Magnetic Mobile, a retail technology company, launched a mobile app that allows users to raise awareness and money for their favorite causes by taking photos of themselves.
Through the “Helpie” app, user can take a “selfie,” post it on social media, and select a charity from a database of 1.5 million organizations. On Giving Tuesday and for a limited time this holiday season, each time a consumer shares a Helpie, Magnetic Mobile and other sponsors will donate 5 cents to the consumer’s cause of choice.
“Helpie reflects a commitment to service that is integral to our company culture,” said Beck Besecker, co-founder and CEO of Magnetic Mobile. “We’re proud that our employees want to raise awareness and money for important causes. More importantly, we want to let everyone at Magnetic Mobile know that we support them to be generous, to have a cause and a point of view.”
Red Cross match
Laura Seyfang, executive director of the Dayton American Red Cross, said that a corporation agreed to match all donations made on Giving Tuesday up to $50,000. People can make donations online, and the websites track where they come from by ZIP code.
Then each chapter gets a portion of those donations back, Seyfang said. She said it’s been one of the busiest years for the chapter — deploying teams to several disasters, including a 17-person team to Hurricane Matthew and more people to Louisiana to help clean up after devastating late-summer flooding.
“We’re participating in Giving Friday. It’s a time of giving thanks and being there for each,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
By the numbers
137 million Americans shopped during Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend.
$3.45 billion was spent online shopping during Cyber Monday.
$1.6 billion will be made in estimated holiday sales in the Dayton area this year.
$116 million was donated to causes on Giving Tuesday in 2015.