Black Friday and Cyber Monday are Americanisms which have spread to other countries, notably the UK, in the last few years. Black Friday (27th November this year, which is not so coincidentally pay day for a large proportion of people) is when stores and supermarkets reduce prices and advertise offers on many items.
Last year, these sales caused mayhem and panic in shops up and down the country. The news was peppered with reports of swarms of shoppers seeking out a Black Friday bargain: long queues, fights and scuffles erupting and shelves being emptied. Cyber Monday (30th November) is the online equivalent; instead of long queues and empty shelves, it is swift mouse clicks and crashing websites. These events result in the forced, commercial start to the Christmas/gift-giving period. Shoppers are encouraged to spend, spend, spend.
#GivingTuesday (1st December) was established in the US three years ago to counteract the consumption of Black Friday and Cyber Tuesday. It is described as a ‘global day of giving’ and it aims to encourage individuals and organisations to be philanthropic, whether it is with their money or their time. The benefit of the designated day and snappy hashtag makes it easier for the message to be spread and for commitments to be made.
While #GivingTuesday is not seeking to make thrifty shoppers feel guilty, it is trying to provide a harmonising balance between the world of retail and the charity sector. Everyone loves a bargain, but consider giving back in some way.
Given the current bleak fundraising and funding environment in the UK, a movement which encourages charitable giving and philanthropic behaviour can only be a positive thing. The reach and impact of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is vast; if the message behind #GivingTuesday is supported in the same way, the potential benefit to charities and third sector organisations could be huge.