How to give back in Pittsburgh on #GivingTuesday

Snap a selfie with your ketchup bottle. For real.

Mike Mozart / flickr
MJ Slaby

Instead of giving gifts, today — #GivingTuesday — is about giving back.

If you’re looking for ways to do that in Pittsburgh today, check out the #GivingTuesday guide of official participants. There are 224 in Pittsburgh, from the Carnegie Museums and Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium to universities like Carlow and CMU to the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon and more.

And if you want to give back with Heinz’s help, all you have to do is take a selfie with the famous ketchup bottle. The company announced “Selfie for Good” earlier this month in preparation for #GivingTuesday, a global social media campaign for charitable giving that’s in its fifth year.

Here’s how it works: Go to a participating restaurant (find one here), and take a selfie with a Heinz ketchup bottle. Text it to 85548.

Go that far and Heinz will donate $1 to Stop Hunger Now, a nonprofit that distributes meals with partner organizations in 74 developing countries. Share it on social media with the hashtag #heinzselfieforgood and the company will add another 57 cents. Heinz will donate up to $200,000 through March 1, 2017.

The campaign is a largely a good marketing move by Heinz, said Chris Olivola, assistant professor of marketing at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

He said there isn’t a huge cost or inconvenience for people to participate, and it’s free advertising for Heinz. Plus, the company will be seen as a generous.

But, Olivola — who researches charitable giving — said it could be risky since it could be perceived as morally inconsistent to ask people to post pictures of a food-related item to help end hunger. Rationally, there’s nothing wrong with that, Olivola said. But it could be ridiculed.

Another wait-and-see aspect of this year’s #GivingTuesday is the impact of the presidential election.

Following the election of Republican Donald Trump, articles swirled on social media about where to donate to help groups and organizations that might be at risk given the president-elect’s stances.

Olivola said donation decisions are driven by a lot of different factors, but because they have social, moral and emotional elements, they can be impulsive.

For some Hillary Clinton supporters and Donald Trump detractors, it may have been a way to let off steam, fight back and communicate their discontent. In five days, the American Civil Liberties Union received $7.2 million, reported Business Insider. And Planned Parenthood got 80,000 donations in roughly a week, according to The Atlantic.

But Olivola said he can’t predict if donations will continue to be high or will they be lower because people donated already. Some people, at least implicitly, have a budget for annual donations so their donation after the election could mean they’ve made their donation for the year. Alternatively, Olivola said people may donate more than normal, post-election.

Campaigns like “Selfie for Good” and #GivingTuesday have social media elements, but social pressure can also encourage people to donate, Olivola said. For example, he said research shows people are more likely to donate if someone similar to them also donates.

Regardless, Olivola also said research shows people are happier when they spend money on other people than when they spend the money on themselves.