#GivingTuesday: why so many brands got involved and its PR value

#Giving Tuesday, a concept created as a direct response to the consumerism generated by Black Friday, drew in many corporate brands this year. So what do these brands hope to gain, or give, from taking part in such occasions? Comms experts from Forster Communications and Rostrum as well as Nicholas Ferguson, non-executive director at Savills, discuss.

Giving Tuesday is becoming a regular fixture for UK brands, two years after it was created by Charities Aid Foundation to promote charitable giving, on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, eBay, Costa, RBS, PayPal, HSBC, Morrisons, QVC and BT Group all campaigned to promote charitable causes of their choice.

Many of these brands went beyond the hashtag to encourage their customers to give more. PayPal UK was just one of the brands to create an original campaign for the occasion, teaming up with this year’s bake-off winner Candice Brown to create a bake sale and encourage donations for Cancer Research UK.

The brands partnered with organisations, channels and celebrities of their choice to enhance their causes. So, what is the PR value in taking part in #GivingTuesday?

Aligning the brand to consumer values

Peter Gilheany, PR director at Forster Communications, says that value lies from raising a brand’s profile in terms of its commitment and support for causes its current and potential customers care about.

“When you are competing with other brands, particularly at a time of year like Christmas, anything that aligns you more closely with the values of your customers is going to help tip them towards giving you their custom.”

CSR credibility

While Mark Houlding, CEO at Rostrum, says that brands should practice caution in getting involved in such partnerships unless it’s a genuine strategy for giving back, he says there is one clear benefit to brands getting involved in such occasions.“Charity partnerships can prove effective at building a brand’s CSR credibility from a content marketing and social media perspective.”

Gilheany adds: “Consumers will spot empty opportunism from a mile off. The value comes from using Giving Tuesday to highlight your existing and authentic commitment to specific causes and social change, and it is a great way to inspire staff, suppliers and customers to get involved and do something positive themselves.”

Businesses must aim for a sustainable future

What’s good for society, is good for business according to Gilheany. He says: “The best businesses want to change the world for the better, as do a lot of the people who work in the business sector. That change can come through their core operation or through initiatives run by businesses that are focused on a specific social change issues. Businesses that don’t demonstrate their values are not likely to remain sustainable in the future.”

Nicholas Ferguson is chairman at Savills and chairman of the Kilfinan Group and Kilfinan Trust – which aim to mentor chief executives at UK charities and give back to communities close to his heart. He adds: “Businesses are not separate from society, they are society. So they should support society, and particularly their employees in their charitable endeavours.”

Gorkana’s key #GivingTuesday takeaways

Looking over a 25% sample of UK Twitter content with the #GivingTuesday hashtag, Gorkana found the following tidbits:

  • There was a 60% female / 40% male split in people using the hashtag – so the charitable conversation was quite notably female-driven.
  • People were still connecting to the shopping origins of the day, with #blackfriday the number 3 hashtag in conversation and #cybermonday the number 6.
  • It seems like organisations devoted to facilitating ways to donate were the most mentioned Twitter handles. Within the top 10 most mentioned, there were six such handles (@biggive, @givingtuesdayuk, @giveasyoulive, @givingtues, @cafonline, @justgiving) versus two charities (@cr_uk, @shelter) and two companies (@bouxavenue, @britishgas).
  • Celebrity support was unsurprisingly deployed to drive donations with @rickygervais tweeting in support of the Wildlife Conservation Society and @tomdaley tweeting in support of The Brain Tumour Charity.

  • Have you nominated an exceptional colleague for The Suzy Ferguson Spirit Award? This unique award is run in association with Gorkana and LEWIS  and all monies resulting from sponsorship goes towards funding vital work  Bowel Cancer UK does in research on early diagnosis.
  • The awards are simple and free to enter, and all the details can be found on the website.
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