This week’s guest is Henry Timms, executive director of the 92nd Street Y and the founder of Giving Tuesday.
“We started Giving Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” explains Mr. Timms, “to go from a national conversation about consumption to a national conversation about compassion.” Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable-giving season and asks people to have conversations about their year-end giving. Mr. Timms describes his surprise about how successful this idea has become, first starting in New York, and now spread to over 100 countries. The movement also took advantage of social media, using the hashtag #GivingTuesday from the beginning to create an online community around the cause.
Mr. Timms also describes how the United States is a uniquely generous country. “There is a historical incentive and a financial incentive,” for this phenomenon, says Mr. Timms. He refers to Alexis de Tocqueville’s historical observation that America was a “nation of joiners” and points to our current tax code, which incentivizes charitable giving. Mr. Timms also posits that this is a country well-suited for Giving Tuesday because we create new rituals and traditions. “Just as we ritualize shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, we ritualize giving on Giving Tuesday.”