This November 27th will be the first #givingtuesday in America (and perhaps elsewhere), a new national day focused on getting everyone – individuals and organizations alike – to make a fresh commitment to give.

The final few weeks of the year, with their important religious and national holidays, have long been a time when people focus more than usual on giving (and volunteering), to such an extent that in America this period has become known as the “giving season”. The hope is that #givingtuesday will be a sort of “opening day” for the giving season, the launch pad for a more productive than ever period of giving in the weeks and months ahead. It aims to build on the existing National Philanthropy Day (November 15th), which is a time to reflect on and celebrate past acts of philanthropy, with a day of action devoted to new giving, when everyone can make their personal giving pledge for the giving season and year to come.

There is an impressive coalition of organizations backing #givingtuesday – making it a classic example of the social good “posse” that we think is a characteristic of philanthrocapitalism at its best (see our earlier blog post). Among the founding partners of #givingtuesday are venerable charities including the American Red Cross and New York’s 92nd St Y, newer ones such as the UN Foundation, DonorsChoose, DoSomething, Kiva, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association of America, Pencils of Promise and Charity:Water, a host of newer social media-based fundraising organizations such as Causes, Crowdrise and GlobalGiving, and well-known companies such as Groupon, Microsoft, Skype and Unilever – with many more household names to follow, we are told, as the campaign builds momentum towards the big day on November 27th.

Given the emphasis that philanthrocapitalism puts on effective giving, rather than giving per se, the presence of so many of the leading internet-based charities in the #givingtuesday posse is encouraging, not least because they are pioneering the use of social media to increase transparency around giving and to deepen the direct interaction between donor and whoever a donation is intended to help. It is also encouraging that Charity Navigator and Guidestar, two organizations devoted to sifting the good non-profits from the bad, are advising #givingtuesday. The need to do the due diligence necessary to ensure that donated money and time goes to well run organizations is an important part of the message of #givingtuesday.

The driving force behind #givingtuesday is the 92nd St Y, a community organization that has become New York’s leading conveners of debate on ideas about how to build a better world, and its deputy executive director, Henry Timms. Indeed, with Stuart Ellman and Sol Adler, the Y’s president and executive director, Timms has formed a partnership with organizations such as Mashable, the UN Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that has used social media to extend this debate far beyond the walls of the 92nd St Y. This year their Social Good Summit at the start of the impending “UN Week” will feature a global conversation linking gatherings in over 100 countries. This kind of global reach through social media is one example of what in a recent speech Timms christened “new power”.

Timms has long been a supporter of our work on philanthrocapitalism, including inviting Matthew onto the 92nd St Y stage to interview prominent philanthrocapitalists such as Bill Gates, Eli Broad and Bill Clinton. The idea for #givingtuesday came out of a discussion Timms and his wife, Colleen, had with Matthew about the irony that the American Thanksgiving Holiday on the fourth Thursday of November is nowadays followed by two days officially devoted to spending and consumption, known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday – an odd way to kick off the giving season! Hence the idea of creating #givingtuesday immediately after Cyber Monday, in the hope that the importance of giving to others does not get forgotten amid all that frenzied shopping. Matthew has since drawn on his knowledge of philanthrocapitalism to offer occasional advice to Timms and his team as they have gone about turning the idea of #givingtuesday into a reality.

It has been great to see so many other people believing that this is a good idea. Hopefully, many more people will join them in coming up with all manner of creative giving ideas as November 27th approaches. Here’s to a successful first (hopefully of many) #givingtuesday!

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