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What is Giving Tuesday -- and how you can contribute

Donating on #GivingTuesday
5 ways to make sure you're donating wisely this #GivingTuesday 01:20

It may be the perfect purse. Not only does the stylish purple bag designed by Tory Burch make a fashion statement -- only five exist -- but it makes a political one as well. All of the money from the pocketbooks’ sales will be used to help victims of domestic violence.

The first will be auctioned online on Nov. 29, the 5th anniversary of Giving Tuesday -- a movement started to encourage philanthropy on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the same way that Black Friday and Cyber Monday promote shopping.

Last year, nonprofits raised $116.7 million on Giving Tuesday, more than eight times the amount in 2012, according to Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y, which launched the idea along with the United Nations Foundation. In the first year, 2,500 organizations participated, but by 2015 that grew to more than 40,000. Organizers have lost count of the groups involved this year.

The movement has attracted major attention from high-profile philanthropists. This year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will match donations made on crowdfunding platform GlobalGiving at 50 percent up to $1 million.

Photographer gives free photo shoots to special needs families 01:36

“What has been amazing about Giving Tuesday is that everyone has been so innovative and creative,” said Asha Curran, director of the Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y. 

The organization helps groups that want to participate in Giving Tuesday through various methods such as educational webinars and promotional materials. However, groups are welcome to personalize the event. The University of Michigan renamed Giving Tuesday to Giving Blueday to create a huge fund-raiser for the school. 

Some groups use the day to encourage volunteerism. Thread, a Baltimore-based nonprofit, is hosting a variety of local activities such as park cleanups and clothing drives to build a greater sense of community in the city hit hard by tensions over the death of Freddy Gray, who died in 2015 while in police custody. Six police officers were eventually charged in connection with his death. They were all either acquitted or had the charges against them dropped.

Other nonprofits want to raise both money and awareness through Giving Tuesday. The Allstate Foundation hadn’t figured out the best way to capitalize on Giving Tuesday, though it found the concept interesting, said senior vice president of corporate relations Victoria Dinges.

How to help a victim of domestic violence 02:46

But when Burch offered to design the handbags, the foundation knew it had the perfect vehicle. It had been running the “Purple Purse” campaign for several years to increase awareness of the financial challenges victims of domestic violence face when trying to leave their abusers. Many can’t break away because they don’t have jobs or their credit has been ruined by their abusers. Plus, there’s a shortage of resources available for women who want to leave their abusers.

“The bags are a perfect way to extend our story and engage in giving for domestic abuse survivors,” said Dinges. The opening bid for the bags is $500, and the foundation will promote the auction using various social media channels, including those connected with its campaign ambassador, actress Kerry Washington, who told Burch about the Purple Purse campaign.

Like Purple Purse, Heifer International is trying raise both money and awareness -- albeit in a much less fashionable manner. The charity, which provides livestock to poor communities, hopes to flood social media with photos of its supporters along with images of goat heads glued to a stick. Heifer has provided supporters with downloadable images to create “goat photo bombs” for pictures posted to social media on Giving Tuesday.  

“We want to get people to ask, ‘Why are those people holding up photos of goats?’” said Christy Moore, Heifer’s vice president of marketing. “We are trying to do grass roots awareness.”

Moore said she hopes the campaign will broaden Heifer’s donor pool, which is largely made up of women over 55. 

“We would like to get younger people,” she said. Those intrigued by the goat photos who decided to donate will get a special dividend: Heifer has a supporter who has agreed to match donations up to $900,000 for Giving Tuesday until the amount is reached.

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