Designing #GivingTuesday

Stanford University is participating in #GivingTuesday for the first time this week. The idea of #GivingTuesday is simple: We have a day for giving thanks – Thanksgiving. We have two for getting deals - Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday is a day for giving back and reclaiming the true spirit of the holidays.

A screenshot of the Stanford #GivingTuesday site encouraging students, faculty, staff alumni and others affiliated with the Stanford community to give.
A screenshot of the Stanford #GivingTuesday site encouraging students, faculty, staff alumni and others affiliated with the Stanford community to give.

Tuesday, Dec. 2, is the third #GivingTuesday, an effort begun in 2012 and championed by the 92nd Street Y in New York City and the United Nations Foundation in Washington, DC.

This past spring the d.school offered a pop-up class on #GivingTuesday and the potential to build movements using social networks and social media.

College campuses represent a particularly compelling demographic for the #GivingTuesday movement. Last year, #GivingTuesday saw small, organic student campaigns take place at Johns Hopkins University and Occidental College.

Stanford Professor Rob Reich presents during a meeting of the d.school pop-up class, "Giving Tuesdays for #GivingTuesday".
Stanford Professor Rob Reich presents during a meeting of the d.school pop-up class, "Giving Tuesdays for #GivingTuesday".

Stanford Political Science professor and Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) faculty co-director Rob Reich has served as an advisor to the #GivingTuesday project since its inception, and Henry Timms, founder of #GivingTuesday and CEO of 92nd Street Y, spent a month in residence at PACS as a visiting practitioner. Given the activity around #GivingTuesday on college campuses, Henry thought more could be done to catalyze greater interest and activity. During that time, he taught a pop-up class here at the d.school with Rob, d.school fellow Jenny Stefanotti, and me.

Students were provided with the following design challenge:

How might we inspire broad and deep participation in #GivingTuesday on Stanford’s campus, including students, parents, staff, faculty, and extended community (e.g., alumni)?  What attributes of the Stanford environment and experience can we leverage to this end?

The flier for the #GivingTuesday class taught this past spring at the d.school.
The flier for the #GivingTuesday class taught this past spring at the d.school.

The class met on Tuesday evenings for three weeks, and students were called on to apply human-centered design tools to the realms of activism and philanthropy. They considered #GivingTuesday itself as a de-centralized movement, harnessing the power of distributed networks, social media, and a collective impact strategy. Students explored how design principles could be relevant not to the design of a material product, but to the activation of a social movement.

The teaching team was interested in investigating whether the unique characteristics of the college environment – particularly, Stanford – could be leveraged for #GivingTuesday. Colleges can bring alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and students together to raise awareness and support for nonprofit organizations, campus organizations, and the college itself. College students today are digital natives -- experts in social media. That has been key to the #GivingTuesday movement.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QKdgMdpcGY

Above: A video produced by GivingTuesday.org. 

Students in the class were encouraged, for example, to reframe the challenge using different point of view (POV) statements. The POV framework contains three components: user, need, and insight. Students explored each of the components to discover unseen needs on the part of different stakeholders and understand what drives participation in philanthropy.

After the class, students leveraged their insights to establish #GivingTuesday at Stanford. Felicity Meu of Stanford’s Office of Development, for example, participated in the class. She worked with other university administrators to have #GivingTuesday replace the university’s Philanthropy Awareness Week. Others outside the class also helped and supported the movement. Joyce and Aubrey Chernick of Los Angeles heard about the effort and decided to match all donations to the university on #GivingTuesday with a gift to undergraduate education.

Are you planning to give on #GivingTuesday? If not, what would it take for you to do so? Let us know in the comments.

Ernestine works for a venture capital firm based in San Francisco, and is teaching two classes at Stanford focused on entrepreneurship, venture capital and circular economy.