Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday…

It turns out that Black Friday wasn’t all that Black.  Well, it was black in terms of human behavior — violence at big box stores and plenty of road rage in parking lots. However, in terms of spending, the the National Retail Federation estimates that spending actually dropped compared to last year, by 2.7%.

Promotion didn’t decrease, I believe. I have 31 emails in my mailbox bragging about Black Friday deals, many mentioning savings of up to 20% at retail (higher in the publishing industry).

I have my doubts about Cyber Monday, too. Especially since online sales jumped 15% on Black Friday and 21% on Thanksgiving Day itself compared to last year, says ComScore.  (I received only 14 emails about “Cyber Monday” — you’d think it’s an event that would be promoted more heavily online.)

And that brings up my doubts about Giving Tuesday, for which my inbox reports no results.

I don’t think people shopped because someone called it “Black Friday.” They went looking for the deals. I doubt people will shop online today just because it’s “Cyber Monday.” And, unless nonprofits (a) promote the concept of “Giving Tuesday” and (b) make a case that giving today is somehow more beneficial than giving on any other day, it’ll be a flop.

To be sure, it’ll be bigger than the Tuesday before, but that’s a low standard. Generally, we invest far too little money in digital infrastructure, talent and creativity.

Politicians have a similar problem. They usually send out emails shortly before the end of their quarterly reporting periods, asking for a gift so they can show better results when those reports are released. It’s a weaker case than saying what they’ll DO with that money to get elected and solve our problems.

Year-end giving makes sense. People know that they can get an immediate tax deduction for making a gift before December 31. In essence, it’s a “25% off sale” for me, since I can give $100 to a nonprofit and my net out-of-pocket cost after tax is only about $75.

“Giving Tuesday” is half of a great idea. It’s a concept without a reason, a slogan without beef. Tell people WHY they should give tomorrow. What good are you going to do with their money that you couldn’t do if they didn’t give it? Then make the case, if you can, that giving tomorrow is better than giving today or on Wednesday.

What do you think?

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