Giving Tuesday and the Man who was Thursday

In G K Chesterton’s novel ‘The man who was Thursday’ it turns out that all the seven leaders of an anarchist group (bad) are code named after days of the week, and turn out to be policemen (good) in disguise except for Sunday (confusing). Now we have Black Friday (bad?) followed by Cyber Monday (probably worse) and Giving Tuesday (definitely good) followed by confusion until Christmas.

Giving Tuesday – #givingtuesday – is now a global phenomena with the United States, Singapore, Canada, much of Latin America and Israel taking part. It was started in the UK by CAF, backed by Blackbaud and has taken firm hold, but only because it is preceded by a gargantuan spending spree that charities think will make people feel so guilty they will give something to charity to salve their conscience.

That has never struck me as a good idea, no matter the total amount that charity might receive on the day. Smuggling giving into a spending spree or policemen into anarchist groups can lead to unintended consequences (bad). If people give because they understand the cause, feel for it and make a conscientious decision they will give more and give again and again. If they give through guilt they give once and a much smaller amount.

Of course, there will be those who say “I choose to give instead of taking part in Black Friday”, but that is hardly any better as a reason, and may end up inoculating the donor against that big give at Christmas, which is a real time to approach potential donors.

So, what is to be done? I love that John Lewis teamed up with Age Concern over its moving Christmas ad, and that FatFace is giving £250,000 to local charities instead of discounting on Black Friday. That’s the way to go – work with companies as it is they who are discounting each other to death. Withdraw from Giving Tuesday and go it alone to develop a proper relationship with your donors and receive a much higher income in the long-term.

So, what happened to the man who was Thursday? Well in the end he awoke from the dream and so will you. Don’t get involved in huge schemes that promise high returns and instead treat your donors as the thinking individuals that they are whatever day of the week it is.