NEW YORK—A 'coalition' of PR firms is driving the #GivingTuesday movement, the nonprofit world's answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Now in its second year, #GivingTuesday encourages giving to nonprofits and charities during the holiday season. Falling on 3 December this year, the initiative is led by New York's 92nd Street Y and the UN Foundation and has already exceeded its goal of 5,000 nonprofit partners as the date draws near, after working with 2,600 charities last year. 

While last year's event is seen as more of a grassroots effort, #GivingTuesday 2013 has benefited from a larger, better-organized communications program.  

A driving force behind this is the #GivingTuesday 'communications corps', made up of firms that have existing relationships with the UN Foundation — Weber Shandwick, FleishmanHillard, Glover Park, Havas PR and Fenton Communications. Digital assistance also comes from Dynamic Signal.

UN Foundation VP for communications and public relations Aaron Sherinian noted that the PR firms are not simply donating their time and money, but are also aiming to realise a genuine business benefit by supporting the campaign.

"It puts the firms on the right side of the movement with their clients," said Sherinian, noting that agencies had approached their clients to get involved with #GivingTuesday. "How does it fit with your CSR strategy? It was a good way to build the movement, build reputations and build some business." 

"As a communicator, this is the best part for me and it’s so on-brand," added Sherinian. "We knew that great PR minds could really take it to scale."

Agencies, said Sherinian, had provided a range of services, including building the communications plan, working on audience outreach and developing the digital and social media toolkit.

Every aspect of the campaign, furthermore, has a US and international angle, reflecting #GivingTuesday's global goals this year. Sherinian pointed out that the day is garnering support in a number of countries, including Canada, Mexico, Chile and Singapore.

"It says a lot about a growing appetite among the public to align with cause," explained Sherinian. "There’s a growing appetite among the consumer globally to talk about what they do. Brands have got to catch up. This is not bragging, it’s about aligning."

The campaign's success is measured in terms of money raised and engagement. In particular, said Sherinian, social media metrics are key. "If you really want to build a movement today that brings together responsibility, corporations and causes, we live in a social media reality."