#GivingTuesday: How Innovation is Empowering More People to Become Philanthropists

"As individuals, we have power. We have power by the choices we make, what we buy, which companies we support, [and] how we travel," said former United Nations Secretary-General and UN Foundation Board Member Kofi Annan during a recent interview with UN Foundation supporters.

His words are a good reminder of the capacity that each of us has to create the world we want - by how we raise our voice, how we use our time, and how we spend our money.

A belief in the power of individuals to shape the world around them drives our work at the UN Foundation. From professional basketball players increasing awareness of malaria to teenage girls speaking out against child marriage to bloggers raising money for global vaccines, we have seen how individuals want to be active problem-solvers to global challenges.

Technology has helped open up philanthropy to more people. With the click of a button, people can connect with organizations working on social causes - in their communities or around the world - and align their time, talent, and money to their values.

As the Chief Operating Officer on the UN Foundation, I spend a lot of time looking at numbers - budgets, KPIs, and more - but I know that our most important metric in supporting the UN is people. Are we reaching them with our message? Are we leveraging their commitment to the UN in the most impactful way? Are we making it easy for them to be a part of our work?

Answering these questions requires continuous innovation; what worked five years ago may not be the best approach today.

As part of our efforts to make it easy to give back, we joined the 92nd Street Y in 2012 to launch #GivingTuesday, an annual day focused on giving to follow the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days.

What began as an idea has grown into a movement: Last year, approximately 700,000 people participated in #GivingTuesday, raising $116 million.

#GivingTuesday, to be held this year on November 29, has become a powerful moment to put philanthropy and community at the center of the holiday season. It's an opportunity for families to talk about charitable giving, for companies to engage their employees in philanthropy, and for individuals to take a break from shopping for stuff to give back to a cause they are passionate about.

As we enter the fifth year of #GivingTuesday, the UN Foundation is continuing to find new ways to connect people to global issues and our work. This includes #GiveaGIF, which empowers people to get involved through social media by sharing GIFs connected to social causes.

Additionally, this year's #GivingTuesday will put a new spin on a holiday season institution - the newspaper circular advertisement. Usually they're stuffed with sales, deals, door busters, and things to buy, but this year, the circular will be filled with ways to give. Readers will find information on charitable organizations doing good around the world and how they can help.

As we head into the holiday season, #GivingTuesday is a rallying cry for people to come together and share humanity. By making it easy for them to do so, we can create a better world for all.