Holiday Spending Frenzy Sparks 'Giving Tuesday'
Following a slew of shopping days that drew consumers out by the millions, there's a new cleverly named spending holiday on the scene — Giving Tuesday.
Unlike its more consumption-oriented (and wildly successful) cousins Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday aims to persuade consumers to open up either their wallets or schedules for a good cause.
The inaugural event was created by New York City's 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. It has attracted more than 2,000 partners, both registered charities that have committed to a Giving Tuesday initiative and for-profit businesses or groups that have pledged projects to benefit a charity.
"#GivingTuesday offers America a new narrative, challenging us to think beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday and reminding us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about community and not just consumerism," said Kathy Calvin, the U.N. Foundation's chief executive officer.
As part of the initiative, companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Discover and Microsoft have launched various matching programs related to the holiday, while nonprofits are hosting social media and cybergiving drives along with volunteer events.
The event's trademarked title complete with a hashtag illustrates the far-reaching power that Twitter has in galvanizing support for charitable causes. By mid-afternoon Tuesday, the strategy appeared to be working since "GivingTuesday" was a trending search term on the site, and numerous celebrities and businesses with large numbers of Twitter followers had mentioned the event.
GivingTuesday's website also features resources for would-be givers to investigate charities' ratings and financial information and ideas for ways that individuals and families can get involved in giving.
The nascent charity holiday comes one day after consumers filled their virtual shopping carts in droves to drive Cyber Monday to become the biggest online shopping day ever, according to IBM, which tracks sales. The 30.3 percent rise in Cyber Monday sales also follows a 12.8 percent increase in overall spending over the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation.
But with all the holiday spending, are Americans tapped out?
Both retailers and charities see the holiday season as a crucial period for generating revenue although reports from last year point to retailers' winning the race for the American dollar.
Although the National Retail Federation said consumers spent about 5.6 percent more during the 2011 holiday season to total $563 billion, total charitable giving rose merely 0.9 percent during the full year to $298.4 billion, according to a study from The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
For those consumers who have dug too deep into their wallets, NPR brought to light one Twitter user's (DJ Official) suggestion for another consumer-themed holiday — the day after Tuesday.
"So you have Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What's the day called after you get the bill? Weeping Wednesday," the musician Tweeted.
-By Katie Little, CNBC News Associate
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