Goodbye, Cyber Monday — hello, Giving Tuesday

Move over, Cyber Monday. Today is Giving Tuesday, the official jumpstart to the holiday giving season.

"It's a simple idea. Find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to join in acts of giving. Tell everyone you can about what you are doing and why it matters. Join a national celebration of our great tradition of generosity," promotes GivingTuesday.org.

Instead of encouraging excitement for buying, supporters of the first-ever Giving Tuesday want to see citizens get excited about charitable donations. And while it follows the American Thanksgiving-generated Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday aims to become a worldwide phenomenon.

"We wanted to create a day that was good for the soul," Beverly Greenfield, a spokesperson for the 92 St Y, a non-profit cultural and community group in New York, which helped create the project, told the Guardian.

"We are encouraging people to give something," she continued. "We are trying to create a community around Giving Tuesday and hope that people who follow it will see something that sparks their interest."

Find organizations supporting and matching donations on Twitter by using the hashtag #GivingTuesday.

Even Bill Gates is tweeting his support of the day for generosity.

Both Wired and Mashable list organizations participating in today's charity-spending.

Some Canadian charities and organizations are on-board:

Change Heroes, a Vancouver-based organization that rallies friends and family through social-network campaigns to build libraries and schools in the developing world, is hoping to tap into the movement and acquire new donors today:

"For the first time in history we can effect so much change in so little time. On our site you can sign up to fundraise to build a school in three hours, which will positively change the lives of 1,000 kids in the developing world," said Taylor Conroy, founder of Change Heroes, adding that he loves the idea of Giving Tuesday because "it gives donors a focus for their attention…and rallies them together with their friends and family so they feel part of a community all acting together."

Microsoft is matching 50 per cent of every donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada today in support of the Oasis 2013 BGCC National Youth Conference in Kamloops, British Columbia.

John Bromley of Vancouver's Peer Giving, explains that, unlike days filled with deals and discounts, Giving Tuesday can only encourage giving, not kick-backs:

"There are no discounts in the charity world. You can't give $5 and get a tax receipt for $10. But there are other ways, for example, matching with a corporate sponsor on specific days, or encourage people to donate whatever they've saved on sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In the end, I think we simply need to encourage giving for giving sake."

World Vision hopes Giving Tuesday will cause consumers to rethink their decisions to give less this year, as a recent survey of Americans and Canadians holiday-giving habits projects.

"Giving Tuesday is intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note and put heart back into the holidays," said Sarah Renusch, World Vision's Gift Catalog Director. "World Vision knows not everyone is able to take off work to physically volunteer, but we still are encouraging volunteers to give virtually by donating food, clothing, and a number of life-changing gifts online through World Vision."

With 85,000 registered charities in Canada, there are plenty of opportunities to channel holiday spending into helping others.

Will you give today?