Tracking Giving Tuesday trends: Online conversations matched charitable giving

December 10, 2019
4 min read

Caroline Dobuzinskis

Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing Content

The chart above shows the most popular causes by donation allocations on Giving Tuesday 2019 (December 3, 2019). 

The annual day to celebrate generosity has sparked both charitable conversations and actions. 

We investigated whether it changed how people gave on our platform.

Giving Tuesday is the day of the year that is meant to pivot our attention from shopping to giving. The idea is that after the commercially-focused Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, it’s good to remind people of the importance of giving charitably. Research shows that donors tend to give when asked, so awareness-boosting days can be worthwhile reminders to think charitably. Giving Tuesday, started in the United States and now part of a global movement, is particularly important as more vulnerable groups may be feeling left out of the joy and mirth of the busy holiday season.

Conversations on the day live largely on social media. Across Canada, #GivingTuesday and #GivingTuesdayCA became top trending hashtags on Twitter, with thousands contributing, promoting charities, speaking of generosity, or highlighting causes. 

According to our own analysis of 10,000 randomly selected tweets from within Canada, the conversation centred around ten top hashtags:

  • #GivingTuesday2019
  • #TuesdayThoughts
  • #CharityTuesday
  • #donate
  • #TuesdayMotivation
  • #BlackFriday
  • #charity
  • #CyberMonday
  • #giveback
  • #nonprofit


According to our research, the talk trending online translated into action. Data from the Charitable Impact platform shows gifts to charities increased on the Giving Tuesday nearly fourfold, compared to a randomly selected day of the year. On June 28, 2018, a total of about $70,000 in gifts to charities were made through our platform compared with nearly $260,000 on Giving Tuesday this year.

“It’s encouraging to see an increase in donations on Giving Tuesday, but our hope is for people to think more often about the role giving plays in their lives and to engage in giving throughout the year,” said John Bromley, Charitable Impact Founder and CEO. “The more donors engage with the charitable space, the more confident they become in their giving — and the more meaningful it can become to them. In time, being generous can grow into more of a hobby or a passion than an obligation or a response to an ask.”

Likely thanks to the efforts of those participating in fundraising and outreach on Giving Tuesday, charitable giving accelerated. However, there wasn’t a shift in the most popular causes. Generally, donors tended to support and give to the causes that remain popular throughout the year, according to data from Charitable Impact.  

For all of 2018, charities categorized as outreach (19.7%), education (18.5%), and community (15.0%) received the most donation allocations through Charitable Impact. These top three causes generally align with trends seen this year and in previous Giving Tuesdays (based on data from 2015 to 2018). 

However, in 2017 and 2018 charities focusing on sports bumped to the third most popular ranking on Charitable Impact. These charities saw a significant spike in share of dollars received — from 0.3% in 2016 to a peak of 29.8% in 2017 and to 19.2% in 2018. 

Interestingly, this reflected the ranking of causes based on what people were talking about on Twitter. Based on our analysis of 10,000 randomly selected tweets, we found that outreach, education, and community were the most widely talked about causes by Canadians on Twitter on Giving Tuesday (between 2015 and 2018).

Notably, 2019 saw the arts slide into the third most popular spot. This shows relative consistency across the board in terms of how conversation trends matched trends in donation amounts, with some exceptions.

The bar chart below shows the average donation allocations by cause on Giving Tuesdays between (2015 and 2018), the average donation allocations by cause on Giving Tuesday 2019, and the tweets posted by cause (from a randomly selected sample of 10,000 tweets). 

“Conversations online can drive the way that people give, which is why giving movements that bring together a number of voices or ambassadors for a cause can be so effective,” said Dr. Ernesto Peña, Charitable Impact Director of Research. “Our data shows that our donors responded to the trending topics being talked about and put their inspiration to action by giving to charity more on Giving Tuesday.”