Everyone knows about (and many people dread) Black Friday, the annual day-after-Thanksgiving (or, in recent years, day OF Thanksgiving) shopping circus that officially launches the holiday shopping season. Cyber Monday has become increasingly popular in recent years as well, with online retailers pushing out their big sales of the season on the Monday after Thanksgiving, and encouraging the homebodies among us to shop online for holiday gifts. But did you know about Giving Tuesday?

According to its website, “#GivingTuesday™ (#GT) “is a movement to create a national day of giving to kick off the giving season added to the calendar on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The second annual GivingTuesday is on December 3, 2013. In the same way that retail stores take part in Black Friday, we want the giving community to come together for #GivingTuesday. We ask that partners create and commit to a project for/on #GivingTuesday and then help spread the word to their networks.”

Started by New York’s 92nd Street and Y, and joined recently by the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday is the perfect antidote to the annual holiday glut of material madness. It is also a perfect fit for nonprofits looking for ways to promote holiday giving among their donor base. If you’re already planning a holiday fundraising drive or a similar event, it’s not too late to add something for Giving Tuesday into the mix. If you weren’t sure of your holiday giving plans, think about launching something surrounding this day. If you’re just learning about Giving Tuesday and your holiday planning is already well in place, there’s always next year—think about the tremendous day of service you can plan in the coming year and make a big splash in 2014!

If you’re not sure where to begin, Beth Kanter’s blog had a great post last week with a guide for nonprofits looking to participate in Giving Tuesday. Drawing on tips from the Knight Foundation’s GivingDay Playbook, guest blogger Mayur Patel offers some great advice on getting started with giving, including setting reasonable, measureable goals. He also advises organizations with the means to do so to incentivize giving with a matching donation plan—knowing that their efforts will be annexed by this type of arrangement can encourage fundraisers to do even more, particularly if there is an incentive prize in place for the person bringing in the most donations.

Of course, one of the reasons Cyber Monday has become such an effective marketing tool for online sellers is the ease of communicating with potential customers through social channels. The same logic can be applied to donors. As Patel points out, “Organizations are most effective in participating in Giving Days when they engage online and excite people offline with events and activities. Before the actual Giving Day, social media can help build a steady stream of support, remind people of what’s coming and how it ties to your work. The day of the event, online presence can be used to share progress updates, photos and personally thank donors. The Giving Day Playbook has handy templates in the outreach section including blog posts, a social media calendar, sample tweets and marketing materials.”

Another important aspect of any giving day is to give back—don’t forget to extend heartfelt gratitude to your internal teams, fundraisers, donors, and everyone who participated. This type of appreciation goes a long way towards securing donor loyalty, and spreading the word among potential future participants.

Is your nonprofit participating in Giving Tuesday this year? What’s your plan? Spread the word by letting us know in the comments!