Every year there’s a video posted online about a fight – or worse – breaking out in a mall on Black Friday and a story about how Cyber Monday is slowly creeping up on in-store sales. Small Business Saturday, founded by credit giant American Express, is also gaining support.

But since 2012, success stories about fundraisers led by nonprofits and charities from around the world as part of #GivingTuesday have also emerged. Dozens of organizations in San Antonio are hosting day-long festivities, social media awareness campaigns, and other events to encourage locals to start off the holiday season with charity.

Last year, #GivingTuesday recorded that 700,000 donors gave about $116.7 million online in 71 countries. Those numbers are expected to increase in 2016.

“#GivingTuesday is an opportunity for socially conscious citizens to have an opportunity to take a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and celebrate the nonprofit organizations that provide a safety net for urban and rural communities,” Anais Biera Miracle, vice president of external affairs for Children’s Shelter of San Antonio, told the Rivard Report.

The Children’s Shelter is hosting its inaugural Winter Wonderland on Tuesday at its Glenda Woods Campus, 2939 West Woodlawn, for the more than 40 children that live at the emergency shelter this holiday season. Christmas trees will be decorated by corporate sponsor teams starting at 1 p.m. and judged by children and shelter staff at 4 p.m.

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center has a whole day of engaging performances slated for Tuesday as part of its first-ever Guadalupethon Fundraiser that aims to raise $30,000 by Dec. 31 to match a challenge grant from the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation. Artists will be creating live art from 10:15 a.m.- 8 p.m., including painting, live music, poetry, dance, and theater – all livestreamed on the Guadalupe’s Facebook page.

“We want to host a fun event where we can broadcast to the world what the Guadalupe stands for. Social media and technology now give us the tools to do that easily,” stated Cristina Ballí, executive director of the Guadalupe, in a news release. “We’ll feature the different arts disciplines that have historically been the mainstay of the Guadalupe, as curated by our talented staff of program directors.”

Performers prepare to go on stage at La Villita.
Día de Muertos performers from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center prepare to go on stage at La Villita on Oct. 30, 2016. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Unlike other days of giving such as The Big Give SA, no affiliation with the original #GivingTuesday – founded by Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation – is technically required to participate in the global movement. #GivingTuesday aims to “(harness) the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities,” according to its website. Other, similar organizations have cropped up in the past few years.

“This is a movement that was really built with the idea that we would be a generosity learning lab,” said Jamie McDonald, who leads #GivingTuesday’s work with community and higher education campaigns. “There’s no ownership of the movement. There are groups of us who focus on how we can be connection points between all of the people and organizations that participate in #GivingTuesday all over the world.”

For instance, a #GivingTuesday representative might showcase a community-wide campaign or strategy that worked well in one city as it helps another city build on the organization’s established tool kit of best practices.

This year will be the first time the organization has seen a surge of participation from Texan organizations and individuals, McDonald said.”There’s definitely a groundswell.”

Dallas, Lubbock, and other cities have started coordinated campaigns. San Antonio has yet to present a unified community engagement effort.

Part of #GivingTuesday’s awareness goals include year-round volunteerism and engagement.

“It’s not just giving dollars – it’s time, talent, and advocacy,” McDonald said. “We feel like the most exciting part of #GivingTuesday is the way the generosity that we harness can really be year-round … it’s more than a day, it can be a way of living our lives.”

In other words, every day could be a day of giving.

“It’s grown completely organically and that is definitely what we want to continue to happen,” she said. “Clearly nonprofits want to be involved – that part of #GivingTuesday is self-propelling. It’s not about how much (is raised in dollars), it’s how people choose to inspire (others) to give in their networks.”

As a follow up to its #GivingTuesday campaign, local nonprofit SA2020 will launch its Days of Giving volunteerism campaign on Tuesday, Dec. 6 by sending a delegation of staff, board members, and friends to nine different partner agencies over nine days.

Click here for details.

“San Antonio residents even chose Civic Engagement as a specific goal for (SA2020), with volunteerism rates as one measure of success,” stated SA2020 spokeswoman Mary Kate Hull in an email to the Rivard Report. “However, as our new data (to be released in early 2017) shows, volunteerism rates continue to fall. SA2020 is committed to showing the community how they can get involved with the causes they’re passionate about and support our nonprofit partners who are effecting real change in these areas.”

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org