Spirit of St. Louis – Pick Your Charity, Pick Your Car

How ‘Giving Tuesday’ ushers in the holidays’ charitable spirit

Volunteers prepare Thanksgiving dinner for more than 5,000 needy people during the Salvation Army's annual "Feast of Sharing" on November 22 of this year in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images)

For decades now, millions of Americans have been embracing the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza known as “Black Friday.” Then came “Cyber Monday,” online retailers’ chance to cash in on the holiday buying frenzy.

Now consumers are being urged to open their wallets for “Giving Tuesday” (sometimes written #GivingTuesday), a day to raise funds for charitable causes.

The day was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.

“When this started out a couple years ago we were pretty skeptical about it,” admitted Colleen Finn-Ridenhour, Senior Vice President of Development for Habitat for Humanity.

But by 2015, Giving Tuesday had spread to 98 countries and raised approximately $177 million, according to the campaign’s official website.

“There’s been, in a short amount of time, a great deal of awareness around this campaign,” Finn-Redenhour told CNN. “As the public has become more familiar over the last couple of years we’ve seen folks raising their hands and joining in more significantly.”

“Giving Tuesday enables us to have a formal anchor on the calendar that ushers in and starts the season of giving,” said Ettore Rossetti, Director of Social Business Strategy and Innovation at Save the Children.

“Our annual giving is growing [as a result of the campaign] but it’s also becoming globalized. It’s becoming not only a national day but an international giving holiday,” Rossetti said.

To take part in Giving Tuesday, all you need to do is pick a charity you trust and visit their website to donate. Many organizations are including the hashtag #GivingTuesday in their recent social media posts as a reminder.

Or, you can always head to cnn.com/impact and give to any of the charities featured there. Ultimately, the #GivingTuesday campaign aims to encourage people to donate to a cause that’s important to them. How, or which one, isn’t as important.

By Konstantin Toropin, CNN