Seasonal Giving: More Reality Show Than Reality

I don’t know about you, but this past Tuesday — dubbed “Giving Tuesday” in the holiday spending cycle — my email inbox was overflowing with charitable solicitations, from companies I regularly interact with as well as ones I’ve never had any contact.

A 2012 GuideStar Survey reported that half of the organizations surveyed said they receive the majority of their contributions between October and December. It’s a well-known fact that individuals feel encouraged to give more generously during the holidays.

However for most Americans, this time of year is financially burdensome. Lavish holiday meals, gift shopping, and added travel put a strain on the monthly household budget. So as a marketer in a world with ever-increasing expenses, how do you help targets take the sting out of charitable giving?

A few months back, I received an email from FitBit (a company I do interact with daily via the bangle on my wrist). They were promoting a holiday challenge to their users, which would culminate in one charity receiving a $500,000 donation from FitBit. Users who register for the challenge make a walking commitment to support one of three charities, and the charity with the most steps at the end will receive the donation. Being the competitive person that I am, I immediately clicked on the link, selected the charity of choice, and upped my fitness participation, further engaging me with FitBit.

More recently, I learned of a challenge put forth by “healthy” Northern California burrito chain called High Tech Burrito. Their seasonal giving pitch involved offering their Burrito Club members a chance to donate their “earned” free menu item to a local food bank as an account credit. In return, HTB would donate a matching $7.25 in account credit. Voila! No expense to the member, and a benevolent (and tax-deductible) gesture by the company.



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