Last Thursday we hosted 30 or so people here at GOOD who were from a diverse range of organisations but shared one goal — to make Giving Tuesday 2017 a brilliant success.

In case you didn’t know, Giving Tuesday originated as a grassroots initiative in the US to temper the runaway consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a chance to remind people to give to support the causes that matter to them. Since then it’s grown to be a worldwide initiative embraced by citizens, charities and businesses alike.

Clearly for charities it’s an opportunity to raise money. And for businesses it’s an opportunity to engage staff and customers in CSR and social purpose initiatives.

But is that all it is? We think not. We think it’s bigger than that, and during the course of three presentations and a panel discussion we got to the bottom of why.

Looking at the world of communications we recognise that so much more is being asked of staff and customers than ever. They’re being asked to share data, to vote, sign petitions, to give time and attention. The trouble is, it’s all one way — from charities and businesses alike. Ask, ask, ask.

What’s so often missing is the key principle of reciprocity.

We all know that we’re more likely to give, if someone else has given first. That generous acts lead to generous responses. It gives us an innate sense that value is being shared, not extracted. It makes us feel happier about taking part and drives a shared sense of affinity.

For businesses and charities alike, that offers an opportunity to demonstrate that they’re an organisation that gives as well as gets. We shared numerous examples of businesses all over the world that are ‘giving’ their voice, products, packaging, spaces and skills to issues, causes, communities and wider society. In doing so they’re demonstrating (rather than just saying) that they care. That they are taking responsibility for problems that exist in the world. That they’re becoming generous, ‘giving organisations’ — and in many cases this is paying off in positive consumer sentiment and even sales.

So, let’s use Giving Tuesday not as a new opportunity to ask, but as an opportunity to explore this new paradigm of reciprocity. As an opportunity to give back, and offer staff, customers and supporters the chance to do the same.

In doing so together, we promote a positive culture that spreads way beyond Giving Tuesday, and brings value to organisations, their staff, customers, supporters and stakeholders well into the future.