Take an Unselfish Selfie for #GivingTuesday

By Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
Yvonne Marcotte
October 21, 2015 Updated: October 21, 2015

The Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Dec. 1 this year, is a chance to turn your selfie into a way to give with the unselfie. This year, after getting the best deals at stores on Black Friday and online during Cyber Monday, people can get into the spirit of the season on Giving Tuesday.

A large proportion of charitable donations are made in the final few weeks of the year. The casual snap taken with a smartphone can now go toward a good cause on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The unselfie on social media has become part of #GivingTuesday, a national day of giving highlighting worthy causes and nonprofits, launched by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations.

#GivingTuesday asks users to post an unselfie photo on social media, an image highlighting the cause they support.

The unselfie is a simple but powerful concept: people can take a picture of themselves as they would in a selfie with their face covered by a paper showing a donation URL. Following an outpouring of support for the Philippines which was devastated by a hurricane in 2013, the unselfie proved very effective.

To encourage people to participate in charitable activities, #GivingTuesday asks users to post an unselfie photo on social media that highlights the cause they support. Google has posted a simple step-by-step to giving to the nonprofit of your choice. Donors of all ages, but especially young social do-gooders who regularly use social media, can post more altruistic unselfies in their social media network.

Giving on Social Media

There is a long-standing tradition of giving without others knowing that continues on social media. The unselfie is not about showing off or advertising how good someone is on Facebook or Twitter.

The #unselfie rapidly became a new social trend and an effective vehicle for good.
— Matthew Bishop

The unselfie says what is important to the giver. Posting a statement of generosity on social media can inspire others, who may be inspired to look into the charity being supported and perhaps spur them to make their own unselfie.

Creating the unselfie is simple. First, write clearly on a piece of paper what cause or causes you will be supporting this #GivingTuesday. You may decide to give a monetary donation or volunteer some time. This is not about you, of course, so hold the piece of paper in front of your face, showing your personal giving pledge, and take a picture. Add the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #unselfie. Then Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, and email it as widely as possible.

In 2013, Oxford Dictionary listed “selfie” as its word of the year. In his linked-in blog Matthew Bishop said, “The selfie becomes a selfless act with the #unselfie” referring to the outpouring of donations for victims of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. “The #unselfie rapidly became a new social trend and an effective vehicle for good.”


A promotion for the unselfie giving finds itself a finalist for a Shorty Award. According to its website, “The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media, recognizing the people and organizations producing real-time short form content across Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and the rest of the social Web.” Winners will be announced in April 2016.

The day itself kicks off the charitable season, when many people focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving, according to the #GivingTuesday website.

Since its beginning in 2012, #GivingTuesday celebrates and supports giving donations or volunteering with nonprofits. The day has become a global movement with more than 30,000 partners in 68 countries. There has been an estimated 470 percent increase in online donations on the day since 2012.

New York’s 92nd Street Y started #GivingTuesday in 2012 in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. More than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about #GivingTuesday, a milestone in trending on Twitter. Last year 99 percent of #GivingTuesday social media traffic happened on Twitter.

VolunteerNY is promoting these nonprofits in Orange County: the American Cancer Society-Hudson Valley Region in New Windsor, the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley in Cornwall-on-Hudson, Harriman State Park, Hudson Valley Honor Flight in Walden, Meals on Wheels of Greater Newburgh, Inc., and the The Salvation Army-Newburgh.

On Dec. 1 the unselfie can help fill cyberspace with statements of generosity instead of ads to buy and get the best deal.

To contact this reporter, please email yvonne.marcotte@epochtimes.com.