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Charities count on donations on Giving Tuesday

Natasha Lindstrom
| Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, 9:20 p.m.
William McCue, of the North Side, selects some canned goods from the shelves at Northside Food Pantry, Wednesday, Nov. 26,
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
William McCue, of the North Side, selects some canned goods from the shelves at Northside Food Pantry, Wednesday, Nov. 26,
Volunteer John Brown, right, assists client Zach Johnson, of the North Side, with selections at Northside Food Pantry, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Volunteer John Brown, right, assists client Zach Johnson, of the North Side, with selections at Northside Food Pantry, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.

With shoppers shelling out tens of billions of dollars between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, support is mounting to ingrain a post-Thanksgiving tradition into the consumer mindset: Giving Tuesday.

More than 10,000 organizations worldwide are participating in the third annual Giving Tuesday, an attempt by New York's 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to establish a global day dedicated to giving back.

The so-called movement aims to rally support for charitable causes through social media, emails, virtual and in-person parties, and easily accessible online donation platforms.

“I hope the movement grows. There's huge opportunity here,” said Melody Badgett, managing director of One Percent for the Planet, a California organization that persuades companies to donate 1 percent of annual sales to sustainability initiatives. The environmental nonprofit works with more than 1,200 companies in 48 countries, including a couple dozen in Pennsylvania.

On Dec. 3, 2013, the second run at Giving Tuesday, online donations spiked 90 percent for 3,800 nonprofits, reaching $19.2 million, compared with $10.1 million in 2012, the nonprofit software company Blackbaud reported. The average online donation was $142.05, up from $101.60.

“By being able to attach ourselves with this larger sort of brand — the Giving Tuesday brand — it gives us an opportunity as a nonprofit organization to stress the need that we're always needing gifts from individuals,” said Claire Ertl, spokeswoman for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art, which will use the day to seek money for its capital endowment campaign for its renovation and expansion project in Greensburg.

The museum has raised more than $26 million, about 69 percent of its $38 million target, Ertl said.

The movement's promoters encourage people to use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #UNselfie to spread the word on Twitter. Last year's Giving Tuesday sparked 320,000 tweets in 24 hours, reported Crimson Hexagon, a social media analytics company.

“We probably will get a younger, more millennial-style giving crowd,” said Caroline Woodward, spokeswoman for Bethlehem Haven, which runs an Uptown housing program and provides health care to the uninsured and poor.

Bethlehem Haven could use a boost. Federal grant cuts put in jeopardy its mental health clinic, and human service organizations were left out of a regional giving fundraiser earlier this year that the nonprofit had relied on for funding in years past.

Hundreds of Pennsylvania nonprofits promoting causes are involved in Giving Tuesday. The Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon is sending out email alerts, the Engineers for a Sustainable World is posting new stories to its website, and Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania plans a small event and possibly a happy hour.

Among other participants: Chatham University, Oakland Catholic High School, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. and Pittsburgh Shakespeare in the Parks. View the full list of participants and find more information at GivingTuesday.org.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514 or nlindstrom@tribweb.com.

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