When Did GivingTuesday Start? A Look Into the Holiday's Origins

Sophie Hirsh - Author

Nov. 28 2023, Updated 9:52 a.m. ET

92NY banner hanging outside building
Source: Getty Images

GivingTuesday was founded at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.

As a followup to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday encourages people to spend even more money — but not on shopping. Instead, the holiday aims to motivate people to fight consumerism, and donate money to charities making a difference in the world. But what are the origins of Giving Tuesday?

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Here’s a look into the “day that encourages people to do good,” how it started, and how the movement and organization known as GivingTuesday has grown.

GivingTuesday Logo on blue background
Source: GivingTuesday
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When did Giving Tuesday start?

Giving Tuesday, stylized as GivingTuesday or #GivingTuesday, was founded in 2012, with the first annual GivingTuesday being observed that year. That means that GivingTuesday 2023, which falls on Tuesday, Nov. 28, marks the 12th GivingTuesday, as well as the 11th anniversary of the very first GivingTuesday.

Who started Giving Tuesday?

As per Chronicle of Philanthropy, it was a small group of people who founded the holiday, including Henry Timms, who is the current President and CEO of Lincoln Center, and Asha Curran, who still serves GivingTuesday as its CEO.

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How did Giving Tuesday start? This is the origin of the holiday.

According to the GivingTuesday website, GivingTuesday was created and began at the 92nd Street Y (now also known as 92NY), located on the Upper East Side of New York City. Specifically, it began at the 92NY’s Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact, where co-founders Timms and Curran both worked at the time.

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For the first seven GivingTuesdays, the holiday operated as part of 92NY; but in 2019, GivingTuesday became an independent nonprofit, as reported by Chronicle of Philanthropy.

“It just got big enough that it was like a planet living within another planet,” GivingTuesday co-founder Asha Curran stated at the time. “It has a really strong and clear mission of its own.”

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Over the past decade, Giving Tuesday has evolved and grown.

Though GivingTuesday has officially been its own organization for three years now, it is first and foremost a movement and global network “with a common mission to build a world where generosity is part of everyday life.”

“We think of ourselves as the backbone organization to the global movement,” Curran said of the organization, via Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The organization works year round to help foster a more giving world; and on the annual GivingTuesday, the organization primarily focuses on helping nonprofits get some publicity (and therefore donations). It seems as if every organization and charity on Earth participates in Giving Tuesday, whether it’s simply by posting about it on social media or their websites, running a major gifting campaign, or by finding a philanthropist to match all donations for the day.

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GivingTuesday also aims to empower average people to understand that they can make a difference — it’s not just the people with the most power and money who can do so (though they should be held more responsible). This is part of the concept of radical generosity, which argues that we should feel the same about the hardships as we do about our own hardships, encouraging people “to give what they can to create systemic change.”

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Though GivingTuesday is its own registered charity, the GivingTuesday website does not host landing pages for any charities, the organization does not require charities to register or pay to participate, and GivingTuesday even allows anyone to use (and edit) its logo free of charge. Overall, GivingTuesday simply aims to encourage a more giving world, and provide a day for charities to fundraise.

Many wealthy donors offer to match donations up to a certain amount on GivingTuesday, making the holiday a fantastic day to donate to a charity whose work speaks to you. That said, if an organization is using GivingTuesday promotional tools, that does not mean it has been vetted by GivingTuesday or any other entity. Always do your research before giving your money to a charity, to make sure you are comfortable with where your money is going.

This article, originally published on Nov. 29, 2022, has been updated to reflect the 2023 holiday.

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