#GivingTuesday Founders Visit Forefront to Kick-Off #ILGive 2018!

August 4, 2018

Henry Timms, Asha Curran, and Jamie McDonald joined the #ILGive team to kick off Illinois’ #GivingTuesday 2018 campaign

Nearly 100 ILGive participants representing organizations from across the Chicagoland area, attended a kick-off event for the 2018 #ILGive for #GivingTuesday campaign earlier this month. The event was live-streamed on Facebook – click through for the link.

Henry Timms, #GivingTuesday founder, 92Y Executive Director, and author of the book, New Power, shared with us some tools for understanding how power is shifting and some techniques to help ILGive participants navigate fundraising and reach more donors in the modern age.

Back in 2012, when Henry and his team created #GivingTuesday, their approach was inclusive, open source, with no rules: participants were encouraged to rework the logo, adapt the campaign to their own communities, and invent ways to involve their own networks. Six years later, #GivingTuesday has grown into a worldwide movement, adapting and evolving with each community and nonprofit that adopts it (see our own ILGive), and growing year over year in participation, donations, and acts of generosity. This decentralized approach is what Timms calls “new power.”

Drawing on examples from business, activism, and pop culture, as well as the study of organizations like Lego, NASA, Reddit, and TED, Timms explained how to build new power and channel it successfully.  “You can see “new power” within the dynamics of crowdfunding, of these intense moments of civic and political activation like #MeToo or #NeverAgain. To give you a simple definition, new power is the ability to capture the energy of the connected crowd. The argument we make in the book is that, to succeed in the 21st century, you need to understand how to command the power of the crowd to serve your organization and mission.”

“Old Power operates like a currency.  It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures. Newpower operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it. New power gains its force from people’s growing capacity—and desire—to go far beyond passive consumption of ideas and goods. The potential of the #GivingTuesday movement is to strengthen relationships and “move donors to owners.”


To create an idea that spreads in a new power world, your idea needs to be actionable, connected, and extensible. “Think about the Ice Bucket Challenge. It went so big because it was an ACE idea. It was actionable, asking people directly to do something: Pour a bucket of ice water over your head, or share this video, or make a donation. There were a lot of actions tied to that, and more than simply “admire my organization.”

It was connected in that it passed among a peer community. The key that unlocked the value of the Ice Bucket Challenge was how it spread, as one person nominated others, and how it tied everyone to a bigger cause in The ALS Association.

Third, it was extensible. Wherever the idea went, people could add their own twist. It spoke to a generation of people who want to engage in the world on their own terms. If you create an idea that people can make their own, it can be very, very meaningful.

As you think about your own nonprofit, think about creating ideas that people can own, share, and change. If you’re doing those three things, your ideas are probably heading in a good direction.”

Watch Henry’s full talk in the link in below, under Resources. Learn more about new power here and make the New Power book part of your fall reading list.

Later that morning, Asha Curran, Chief Innovation Officer and Director, Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at 92Y shared some of the data from #GivingTuesday, how it helps us understand how things are changing, and how we can leverage those changes for the benefit of our organizations and the issues that we serve.

“Understanding the new power philosophy and the shifts in the way people are engaging is incredibly relevant to our work – people don’t “just give” to causes, or engage with nonprofits in the same way they did a generation ago, or even the same way they did at the beginning of Giving Tuesday.” The power of the movement is in its ability to excite people who are already supporters and also to draw in new donors. In answer to a common question about Giving Tuesday regarding donor fatigue, Asha says, “is it that people actually get tired of giving? Or is it that we’ve lost our way in figuring out the most powerful way to ask?”

#GivingTuesday is an incredible driver of innovation. An overwhelming majority of participants use GT as an opportunity to experiment, try something new. That would not be a radical statistic in the startup community, but in our sector, because we’re so busy serving our missions that we don’t deploy a lot of time or resource into innovation, to taking risks. When you take a risk, you could fail, and that has big stakes in the kind of work that we do.

A common concern we hear about #GivingTuesday is that it’s just cannibalizing end of year giving. That folks are taking the check they were going to write on Dec 31 and dating it Nov 28 – #GivingTuesday – because they were excited by the hashtag. “The data is showing that that’s not what’s happening,” says Asha. “Giving Tuesday is additive. It behaves just like a natural disaster in that there’s a big spike in giving on that day with no corresponding dip.” Giving Tuesday donors are also showing higher rates of retention. “The picture of someone giving alone at their desk, writing a check on Dec 31 is an old power way of understanding the motivations of giving. If I give in a way that is transformational, that is joyful, that is collective, I have a really strong positive reaction to that act of giving and I want to feel that again.” Find Asha’s full presentation in the Resources links below and learn more about what the GivingTuesday team is learning about donor behavior in GivingTuesday’s Giving Lab website.

Caption: #GivingTuesday is now the biggest day of the year for online donations on some of the largest giving platforms

For the second half of the day, Jamie McDonald, veteran giving day fundraiser, led participants through an interactive session on the tactical strategy to building a giving day campaign that inspires. #GivingTuesday works because people want to connect around giving. Authenticity is key, says Jamie. “In the most successful campaigns that we see around the country and around the world, it’s not because they picked up what somebody else was doing and do it that same way- they were successful because they connected with the authentic culture of their community. These campaigns worked because people felt like they were a part of it.”

Jamie stressed the importance of planning ahead of time and walked participants through a guided session to help them plan their campaign, brainstorm about a goal, and create an authentic and strategic campaign. Find Jamie’s workbook and the recording of her full presentation in the Resources links below.

To close out the session, #ILGive for #GivingTuesday co-leader, Kathleen Murphy reminded participants that “we can only build a movement of scale when we have both the community power and the resources to move us forward. Never forget that fundraising is giving people an opportunity to invest in the world they believe in.”

If you’ve not yet registered for #ILGive for #GivingTuesday, we encourage you to join the movementRegistration closes October 24.



  1. Henry and Asha’s Powerpoint deck
  2. Henry’s book New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World – and How to Make It Work For You
  3. Henry’s (now classic) HBR article and his co-author’s TED talk – if you are ever in need of an activity for your board meetings, this is such a fascinating topic
  4. The Facebook video link to Henry and Asha’s presentation
  5. The Giving Tuesday Data Lab 
  6. Jamie McDonald’s Powerpoint deck
  7. The Getting Ready for Giving Tuesday Workbook
  8. The Facebook video link to Jamie’s presentation (part 1 and part 2)


Join the giving movement! Register your nonprofit on ILGive.com. What you get:

  • Great advertising opportunities to get new eyes on your mission
  • Lower fees
  • A delightful donor experience – I know we’ve been harping on it, but once your donor is inspired to click that donate button, the next job is to keep them as ‘close’ to that feeling of inspiration as possible. Our donate button had 90% completion rate last year!
  • The technology to run peer-to-peer campaigns – which are critical to #ILGive success!
  • Our much-talked-about email drip campaign gives you bite-sized tasks weekly to tackle building a successful #ILGive for #GivingTuesday campaign!

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