National Giving Day: Would You Like to Try It?

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Serbian Philanthropy Forum (SPF) officially launched the National Giving Day, an initiative done for the first time in Serbia. While the name (national day) suggests that it is just one day when giving is encouraged, SPF decided to take things a little bit differently.

This post will tell you more about how they came up with the whole idea and how it is going to be implemented, but will also look at some examples of the same or similar ideas from other countries and continents that you may find inspiring! Who knows, maybe one day we’ll write about the Balkans Giving Day?

Why and How SPF is Organizing a National Giving Day:

The idea behind the National Giving Day in Serbia was understandably to promote both individual and corporate giving in Serbia, and to promote giving in the widest sense – all are invited to donate what they can: money, material and/or volunteering to work.  

SPF says that it was not easy to decide how the idea should be realized. Inviting people/companies to give is all very good, but how to motivate them? SPF members thought – based on their previous experience – that inviting people/companies to give would work better if there is focus on what the money is needed for. Therefore, they decided to ask people to give for a concrete cause, instead of just generally inviting people to give money for philanthropic purposes.  

The next step was deciding what cause would be appealing and understandable enough, and various ideas were discussed in details before finally selecting the Evo Ruka Association.The idea founding the first inclusive center for children in the community of Zemun Polje was attractive to SPF because the center is envisaged as a community ‘meeting place’ in which children with learning disabilities will get the support they need while people from Zemun Polje will be able to spend some quality time with their fellow neighbors and children that need support.

Since the creation of the Inclusive Center will require a significant investment of money (approx. 9,000 EUR), there was the real risk of not collecting enough in just one day. Therefore, SPF decided to launch the idea and a call for donations now. In this way, all collected money will be immediately directed to Inclusive Center and there will be ample time to collect all the money needed.  

The actual National Giving Day,which is envisaged to be in the fall (likely at the beginning of October), will then be the ‘crown’ of the whole action. It is planned to be a widely promoted public event, in which the members of SPF would also be doing some volunteer work in the Center. SPF is happy to report that the first donations are already in, from Trag Foundation (former BCIF) employees, Delta Holding and Metro.

What happens in other countries?

As expected, countries innNorth America – particularly USA and Canada – have already tried this. There are several initiatives worth looking at that we managed to find:

National Philanthropy Day, organized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, is imagined as the day that would honor and pay tribute to people who are active in philanthropy: “In 2012, more than 125 communities and 50,000 people around the world will participate in NPD events and celebrations. These events include award ceremonies, galas, luncheons, seminars and other special events. Outstanding donors, volunteers, corporations, foundations, small businesses, youth in philanthropy and others will be honored on NPD in recognition of their work in improving their communities and their world every day.”

While many communities, primarily in North America and Australia, celebrate this day, the Canadian Parliament actually has approved a bill that will make Canada the first country in the world to honor the work of charities, donors, volunteers, corporations and foundations by permanently recognizing November 15th as National Philanthropy Day. Well done Canada!!!

 #GivingTuesday™ is maybe even a more interesting and relatively new idea, launched in 2012. It is called Giving Tuesday as it follows so called Black Friday and Cyber Monday days, which in the USA, mark the beginning of holiday shopping season. It is imagined as a movement and a campaign to encourage charitable activities and giving, and the idea behind it was – we guess – that as long as people are in the mood for spending money, why not encourage them to spend it on a good cause! The first #GivingTuesday had impressive results, measured from the data from online tools used for giving: “Blackbaud processed over $10 million in online donations on 11/27/12 – a 53% increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year. DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations and the average gift increased 25%. More than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about GivingTuesday – resulting in milestone trending on Twitter.”

This is how they promote it:


Finally, Europe is lagging a bit behind, but it’s trying to catch up: there is a new pan-European initiative to start a National Philanthropy Day in each of the European countries on October 1st. In some countries it is celebrated as Day of Foundations and in some as Philanthropy Day. The European network of networks of foundations, Dafne Network is coordinating efforts to make this more than a national day, but to take it across borders and make this a day when we celebrate philanthropy throughout Europe.

We will continue to follow the first National Giving Day in Serbia – and will report the results, but in the meantime, let us know if you know of similar examples in your country (or in the world) that we can write about and maybe inspire others to try this!

And think about donating – whether to the Evo Ruka Association in Zemun Polje or to something else – celebrate your own giving day, until the national day for giving comes to your country!

Many thanks to the Serbian Philanthropy Forum and Trag Foundation (that administers SPF) for providing information on the first National Giving Day in Serbia!



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Aleksandra Vesic