Page 3 Profile: Henry Timms, Campaigner


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The Independent Online

We’re living in a material world, right?

Henry Timms believes he is part of the antidote to the rampant consumerism of modern society. Mr Timms, 37, has revolutionised support for charity in the US and other countries thanks to his Giving Tuesday campaign – the premise being that Mr Timms nominated one day a year for Americans to give money or devote some time to a good cause. Now he is set to launch the initiative in the UK.

So what is so special about Tuesday?

The community centre director, who hails from Exeter but is based in New York, decided to target the first Tuesday after the Thanksgiving celebration, which falls on the final Thursday in November. The next day has become known as “Black Friday”, when shopping centres are flooded with shoppers, and is followed by “Cyber Monday”, when online shopping gathers pace as the Christmas rush begins. “We have two days that are good for the economy, what about a day that is good for the soul?” Mr Timms said.

And people have given generously?

The cause, which began two years ago, has attracted 50 times the level of support Mr Timms originally aimed for, thanks to a social media-based campaign endorsed by prominent figures such as Barack Obama and Bill Gates. It was an even bigger success in the US last year, with the #givingtuesday hashtag trending for 10 hours on the big day. The concept was also extended to Canada, Israel, Australia, Mexico and Singapore, and is coming to Britain this December.

Hang on, that is a while way isn’t it?

Well, Mr Timms was in London yesterday to pitch the idea to ministers, and the Charities Aid Foundation (Caf), which is spearheading the initiative in Britain, is in talks with corporate sponsors.

Does he expect another success?

John Low, chief executive of the Caf, said the initiative was “an amazing global phenomenon”, with Mr Timms saying as an Englishman he was “delighted to see Giving Tuesday take hold in the US” and looked forward to seeing how it plays out in Britain.