Global extrovert Aaron H. Sherinian (BA ’96) is using his natural exuberance—as well as a lot of hard work—to promote #GivingTuesday, an international movement he works on year-round.
“We have a day for giving thanks on the fourth Thursday of every November,” says the chief communications and marketing officer for the United Nations Foundation. “Then with Black Friday and Cyber Monday immediately following, we have two days for getting deals. Now we have #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back and a perfect way to express generosity.”
The concept is simple. On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, individuals, families, companies, and other groups are encouraged to donate time, money, or additional resources to the charities and causes they believe in. Then they share how they have been part of the movement through social media. And though there are needs year-round, #GivingTuesday shines a spotlight on giving for 24 hours every year.
Those behind the movement, created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York and the U.N. Foundation, are gearing it toward a broad, worldwide audience—not just those with deep pockets.
“I believe we live in an era when the concept of philanthropy is being reinvented,” Sherinian says. “You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a difference. You can give back in many ways. This is a day for giving online and showing your capacity for caring.”
In #GivingTuesday’s inaugural year more than 2,500 organizations participated, and its growth since then has been phenomenal. There are now more than 30,000 partners in 68 countries, including small businesses, nonprofits, government agencies and major corporations. Online donations have increased by 470 percent since its inaugural year. In the world of social media, more than 32.7 Tweets have spotlighted Giving Tuesday and global impressions top 15.4 billion.
Sherinian calls the core of the effort a “PR potluck for good.”
And it’s a potluck he was well prepared to lead. Since 2009 he has led public-relations, media-relationship, strategic-outreach, and online efforts for the U.N. Foundation, and his causes have included the Social Good Summit and the Momentum1000 social-media rally. He believes innovative communications can help change the world and is passionate about encouraging a younger generation to become involved in global activism and philanthropy. So #GivingTuesday, he says, “is a natural fit for me.”
It’s also a natural extension of his time at the Y. “When I left BYU, I took the motto ‘The world is our campus’ seriously—whether that meant being a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. Department of State or a press attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Ecuador,” he says. “#GivingTuesday is clearly a way to make the world our campus.”
Endorsements have poured in from the White House and big names including Bill Gates, Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, and Hugh Jackman. And the movement’s increased visibility has led to surging participation.
“People look for ways to do good things,” Sherinian says. “Here is one way to accomplish that. The choice is theirs, and they make it without pressure.”