Kathleen Murphy Toms, director of digital strategy at GivingTuesday, the world’s largest philanthropic movement, is bringing her digital expertise to the NYU SPS Center for Global Affairs (CGA), George H. Heyman, Jr. Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising. She recently joined NYU SPS as an adjunct faculty member. This spring, she will teach “Social Media and Email Fundraising: Building and Deploying Campaigns Across Platforms,” one of the classes that comprises the popular Digital Fundraising Certificate.
The GivingTuesday movement was launched at New York City’s 92nd Street Y in 2012 as a simple idea—create a day that encourages people to do good. Over the years, it has grown into a global phenomenon. “At GivingTuesday, we believe in the transformative power of generosity, not just as fuel for nonprofits, but also as a powerful accelerator of civic action,” said Murphy Toms, who noted that people from across the US and from all walks of life, gave $2.7 billion on GivingTuesday in 2021—mostly through small donations.
GivingTuesday is not just about money, according to Murphy Toms, “It’s about giving time, voice, acts of kindness—it’s about expressing your generosity in whatever way matters to you. What we’re doing is building a culture of generosity so that people and communities around the world can achieve real and lasting change,” she added.
Over the course of her career, Murphy Toms has coached social impact leaders and grassroots organizations on how to generate funds for their causes and the ways in which to mobilize groundswell movements in order to create systemic change. She credits her own community activism as stemming from her time growing up on the south side of Chicago. “Chicago’s culture of community organizing taught me that each one of us has the power to enact change and impact our communities,” she asserted. During her career, Murphy Toms served as a field organizer on President Obama’s 2008 campaign, which led her to Forefront, Illinois’ statewide association representing both grantmakers and nonprofits, where she worked on the state’s GivingTuesday campaign. In 2019, when it spun out into its own organization, she joined GivingTuesday as an employee.
In her class at CGA, Murphy Toms will teach social changemakers how to develop innovative content marketing and digital strategies to activate and engage new audiences. “The social sector has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to the adoption of digital tools and to the collaborative use of data,” she stated. “It’s not about the technology; it’s about the intention we bring to it.”