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Op-Ed -- LinkedIn Influencer -- America is Open for Giving

December 3, 2013

Op-Ed by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker

Opinion Editorial, LinkedIn Influencer
America is Open for Giving

After Thanksgiving, you may have stood in long lines for Black Friday, supported your local businesses on Small Business Saturday, and clicked endlessly on Cyber Monday. And today, there is a relatively new tradition that demonstrates America’s incredible capacity for generosity – Giving Tuesday.

Along with businesses and charities worldwide, I am proud to support #GivingTuesday today, an event designed to support our communities by helping charities raise money online. Spearheaded by the United Nations Foundation and 92nd Street Y, a non-profit cultural and community center in New York City, #GivingTuesday allows you to support your favorite causes across the nation and around the world.

Last year, $10 million in online donations rolled in on the inaugural #GivingTuesday. The number of PayPal mobile donations jumped nearly fivefold over the previous year, and the value of those donations increased more than 200 percent. Clearly, Americans are showing that they are ready to use technology and innovation to give back.

This year promises to deliver much more in positive impact. Already, the number of #GivingTuesday partners has already tripled from 2,500 to 7,500, and I’m glad to see businesses like eBay, Johnson & Johnson and AT&T all have efforts to support Giving Tuesday. Some examples are Microsoft launching a campaign to raise $500,000 for Give for Youth to create education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in conjunction with Giving Tuesday. And the Case Foundation is helping to host an online site where donors can support selected nonprofits and get their contributions matched. These are just a few of the many signing on.

Schools and community groups are also getting involved. This is the type of creative collaboration between public, private, and nonprofit entities that I love seeing.

And our spirit of giving has become contagious as the movement has gone global, with organizations in Australia, Canada, Mexico and Singapore also getting involved.

I should also note that many of our terrific employees at the Commerce Department are giving back through the Combined Federal Campaign, the largest annual workplace charity campaign in the world. The CFC raised $258.3 million last year from federal workers to support more than 4,400 charities. In the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area alone, 130,000 federal workers donated $62 million in 2012, averaging $477 per donor. These dollars, from so many talented public servants, are changing many lives for the better across our nation. Our department's Economic and Statistics Administration has some great stats about the giving patterns of Americans.

As a business leader for 27 years, I have seen the amazing capacity of so many businesses and others who step up and give back to their communities in creative ways. To me, that is what America is all about: We watch out for each other, and we take care of those who need it most.

And when we band together, millions of dynamic individuals and businesses can create stronger communities and a stronger economy for us all.

I urge you to check out #GivingTuesday.

My mantra at the Department since coming to office this summer is that America is Open for Business. During the holidays – and all year long – let's show that we are also “Open for Giving.”

In doing so, we demonstrate what makes our nation great in our capacity to reach out and help one another.