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Northern Ireland people asked to find time for giving as well as shopping on #GivingTuesdayNI

The global annual phenomenon Giving Tuesday has hit Northern Ireland for the first time.

Giving Tuesday began in the US two years ago as a response to the high volume shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to encourage people to take part in charitable giving.

The craze has swept across the globe creating an international day of giving in countries including Australia, Mexico, Singapore and now the UK.

Organisers say it serves as a call to action to inspire personal philanthropy and encourages bigger, better and smarter charitable giving during the festive season, showing that the world truly gives as good as it gets.

It is being organised locally by Giving Northern Ireland in association with the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation. Multiple charities signed up to be part of the day which saw a special 14ft Giving Tree at the Belfast Christmas Market, which is being used to make funding pledges.

Using the Twitter name of #GivingTuesdayNI, the drive will highlight that, even amidst the busy shopping season before Christmas, people in the Northern Ireland will go out of their way to give to others.

The managing director of the Christmas Market and Giving NI strategic advisor Sandara Kelso-Robb said: "On Giving Tuesday we are asking everyone to come together to show the world why it is good to give.

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"Whether it is making a donation, volunteering your time or just spreading the word, Giving Tuesday is a call to action for everyone who wants to give something back. It spread around the globe as people decided that the festive season isn’t just about consumption but about thinking of others and this is the first time that we in Northern Ireland have the chance to participate."

Last year online contributions on Giving Tuesday were up 90% on 2012 and the average online gift increased from £63 to £89.

Ben Russell, Director of Communications at the Charities Aid Foundation, said: "We're thrilled Giving Tuesday will be coming to Northern Ireland. It's global but works best when communities take it up for themselves and create something new – and we hope we can inspire people to do just this.

"Giving Tuesday just means doing one thing for a good cause on December 2, offer to volunteer your time, set up a regular donation to your favourite charity, get on Twitter or just talk to your family about a cause you care about – anything goes.”

Part of the success of Giving Tuesday was generated by social media – last year there were 200,634 Tweets sharing everything from fundraising events to offering donations. Two billion impressions were achieved across all social media channels.

Giving Tuesday has been supported by The White House, Bill Gates, Hugh Jackman, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lopez, Ringo Starr, Kevin Bacon, Heidi Klum, Lily Cole, and internet giants like Facebook and Google.

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