The Season for Giving

Season for giving: holiday charity gifts

By Elisa Foster

“A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”  – Nelson Mandela

Maybe it’s the hyper consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Perhaps, it was this touching New York Times article about the realities of homelessness in New York.  Or, maybe it’s because after the recent passing of Nelson Mandela I was overwhelmed with memories of volunteering in South Africa ten years ago.  Most likely it’s a combination of all of these things, but this holiday season I have a stronger than normal urge to give back to my community.

It started a couple of weeks ago when my local Ten Thousand Villages sent me an email about its Fair Tuesday event – 15% of the proceeds that day would go to Maternity Care Coalition, a friend and client of Melior.  So, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to stock up on some of their beautiful handmade, fair trade Christmas ornaments.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who felt the need to be charitable that day, which has also been declared #GivingTuesday.  According to Blackbaud, a nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday partner, people gave over $19 million in online donations on #GivingTuesday, an increase of 90% compared to last year. While this year’s #GivingTuesday received more media attention and nonprofit participation than last year, Blackbaud’s CEO suggests this drastic increase in donations signals the beginning of a movement towards a more philanthropic culture.

Speaking of philanthropic cultures, Melior’s commitment to philanthropy continues to thrive.  Throughout the year, Melior employees volunteer, serve on boards and make charitable contributions to support a number of nonprofits and charities – and we’re proud to recognize some of these organizations here:

If you’d like to extend the spirit of the holidays beyond #GivingTuesday, I encourage you to donate or volunteer your time to your favorite organization.  For suggestions in the Philadelphia region, check out the organizations listed above and see our round-up of giving and volunteer opportunities below.  Hopefully, this will be our first step to maintaining the spirit of giving throughout the New Year.

If you have suggestions for additional giving opportunities and programs to support, please add them in the comments section below!

Holiday Giving Round-Up

Holiday Shopping Update: And the Winner is…The Internet!

Online Shopping is an important part of holiday shopping

By Susan J. Levine and Elisa Foster

Last week, we asked you to take a quick poll about your plans to go shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  While a large majority of those who took our poll said they would not shop on either day, retailers lured big crowds into the stores with aggressive marketing and steep discounts.  The National Retail Federation estimates that a record 141 million people took advantage of the holiday sales over the four-day weekend that began on Thanksgiving and ended on Sunday.  For many Americans, Black Friday shopping – and recently Thanksgiving Day shopping – has become a holiday tradition. We all know families who finish Thanksgiving dinner then immediately start planning their trips to the local malls and standing in line outside of big box stores.

However, “the economy spoke loud and clear over the past few days,” according to the CEO of Belus Capital Advisors.  People flocked to the stores, but they didn’t spend much money.  Shoppers spent an estimated 1.7 billion dollars less than they did last year and physical stores saw their first decline in spending on Black Friday weekend since 2009.

While brick and mortar stores suffered a decrease in spending, consumers flooded the Internet over the weekend and on Cyber Monday.  In fact, Cyber Monday shopping increased by 18% compared to last year.  And notably, mobile shopping (from smartphones and tablets) accounted for 30% of all online traffic.

This drastic increase in online shopping and use of mobile technology is a sign of the times.  Americans across age, income and ethnic lines are becoming more comfortable conducting business and making purchases online.  For instance, in a recent survey conducted by Melior, 70% of respondents said they pay bills online.  The increasing success of Cyber Monday is just another sign that technology and online shoppers (a.k.a. Invisible Customers) will continue to impact our economy in future years.

Now that we’ve talked about holiday spending, it’s time to focus on holiday giving.  Stay tuned for our update on Giving Tuesday and how we can all give back this holiday season.

Black Friday: The Super Bowl of Consumer Research and Take Our Poll!

Holiday Shopping on Black Friday

By Susan J. Levine and Elisa Foster

Do you know someone who works in consumer research or retail marketing?  They’re probably in a frenzy right now because this week is the Super Bowl of consumer behavior research: Black Friday.  For the past several weeks, we’ve been hearing and reading endless stories about who will shop, when they will shop and where they will shop on Black Friday.

However, this year’s Black Friday is special as more retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day.  With this increase of stores extending their holiday hours, everyone wants to know how this year’s shopping behaviors will impact how we celebrate holidays in the future.  Is this the end of Thanksgiving as we know it?  Journalists and bloggers are using stats to “prove” many, and often contradictory, points:

Let’s continue the conversation!  Please take our 2-second poll about YOUR consumer behavior and pass it along to your friends.  Then, stay tuned for our follow-up post next week to find out what really happened.

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