Today is November 29, which is this year’s Giving Tuesday. According to the official Giving Tuesday website, today is “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” Its success is a testament to the increasingly important role social media plays in society. According to an article from The NonProfit Times, Giving Tuesday started in 2012 and raised over $12 million for 2,500 nonprofits. By 2014, that number had climbed to $47.5 million for 15,000 nonprofits. Last year, PayPal alone processed nearly $46 million in payments.
In today’s digital world, Giving Tuesday is a key way for individuals and nonprofit organizations – including those who support ocean and coastal study and conservation – to draw attention to the causes they support and to garner donations from their supporters. When it comes to studying and protecting the ocean, science, communication, and social action go a long way, but funding is key. However, like any other method of communication, there are a number of different ways to appeal to potential donors.
Since there are so many different opportunities to give, it’s important for organizations to find language that will speak to ocean lovers on an emotional level. The Ocean Foundation, whose goal is to support other organizations dedicated to ocean conservation, asked supporters to “give back to the ocean and join us in protecting and preserving the places and animals you love!” Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), where I did my former co-op, published a feature story that linked directly to their giving page, telling readers that “the ocean gives us so much every day. Give back today.”
Scripps Institution of Oceanography at University of California San Diego asked its supporters to “make waves on Giving Tuesday,” stating that, “now more than ever, we need your help to understand what is happening in nature, what it has in store for us, and what we can do to conserve and protect our most valuable resources,” while Oceana, an international advocacy organization dedicated to preserving the health of the world’s oceans, promised that donations up to $20,000 would be matched by the Discovery Channel if they “protect the world’s oceans this Giving Tuesday.”
Each of these organizations has a different mission. Scripps and WHOI are focused on creating better understanding of the ocean through research; so far, we’ve explored only 5 percent of the ocean’s waters, so there’s a lot more work to be done. The Ocean Foundation and Oceana are aimed at ocean conservation, a task that is tangential to ocean research, especially as many of the ocean’s resources are being negatively affected by human activity.
Despite these slightly different goals, all four of these organizations expressed a sense of urgency in their message to potential donors, and are putting the power to increase understanding and protect the ocean in their supporters’ hands – and their wallets. “We need your help now!” seems to be the most common language used. No matter who ocean lovers choose to donate to this holiday season, this common thread will make its way across social media platforms everywhere.