NEW YORK — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $10 million to the organization that grew out of the hashtag #GivingTuesday in part to fund a database of charitable giving and other acts of generosity.
GivingTuesday, the organization, has helped people realize there is a lot they can give, said foundation co-founder Melinda French Gates in an interview.
“Whether people are giving their voice, their time, their expertise or their money, and given that it was the 10 year anniversary of GivingTuesday, it seemed like the right time to step up with another commitment,” French Gates said.
Asha Curran, GivingTuesday’s CEO, described the foundation as a thought partner in addition to being a funder.
“It’s a really wonderful thing to see the partnering of big philanthropy and grassroots generosity, that those things don’t have to live in separate worlds and be viewed as totally separate things,” Curran said.
The new gift announced today also represents the Gates Foundation’s ongoing efforts encouraging people to give. The Giving Pledge, which the Gates’ founded with Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, asks billionaires to donate more than half of their wealth to charitable causes within their lifetimes, while GivingTuesday seeks to mobilize everyone else.
“We believe philanthropy is the right thing to do and that anybody can do it,” said French Gates in an interview. “And so, it’s more making it a societal norm, quite frankly, that you give something back.”
GivingTuesday started in 2012 as a project of the 92nd Street Y and became an independent nonprofit in 2020. It now convenes a network of people who run campaigns for communities around the world, adapted to relevant holidays and giving traditions.
Most people still associate the organization with the now-familiar flood of emails and other solicitations for charitable donations that pour in on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the U.S., which Curran said she doesn’t mind.
“I just wish they also associated it with grassroots leadership and young people leading the way in philanthropy,” she said.
Last year, the organization said donors gave more than $2.7 billion on Giving Tuesday, despite many fundraisers and organizations professing exhaustion with trying to design campaigns that breakthrough.
The Gates Foundation has previously given the organization $10.5 million since its founding. GivingTuesday also received $7 million from novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott in 2021.
Curran said the gift will accelerate the organization’s plans to expand a database that includes information about giving from a range of sources including the payment processor PayPal, Charity Navigator, crowdfunding sites GoFundMe, DonorsChoose and Tiltify as well as major institutions that offer donor-advised funds like Fidelity Charitable and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
GivingTuesday said they aim to raise $26 million over five years to fund the data project and already have 40% of that amount committed.
The software company Blackbaud, which works with nonprofits, universities and foundations, said they do not share their raw donation data with third parties. though they do provide GivingTuesday the total amount of donations they process on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Other organizations also track philanthropic giving — including Candid, which collects giving data from philanthropic foundations, governments and nonprofits, as well as major academic studies like one at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy that has surveyed the giving behavior of the same American households for decades. The Giving USA Foundation also releases an annual analysis of giving trends, that includes many datasets but doesn’t capture person to person giving or mutual aid.
GivingTuesday aims to collect data about individual donations, which Jake Garcia, vice president of data at Candid, said could complement these other projects and help answer questions about giving trends.
“The stock market’s down, do donations go up or down?” Garcia said. “Number of donations, amount for donations, the type of donations they make. . . Those trends, I think, are the kinds of things that could be really revelatory if they can get a good enough body of data.”