In 2022, Giving Tuesday donations hit $3.1 billion in the US alone, according to an impact report published by the eponymous organization that supports the movement. For nonprofits, these donations can move the needle toward realizing their vision.
What is Giving Tuesday?
Giving Tuesday is a global movement that encourages people to donate to organizations working toward the change they wish to see. Celebrated after the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping blitz, it’s an opportunity to turn our collective focus from consumerism to community. It’s also a major opportunity for nonprofits.
How can Giving Tuesday benefit nonprofits?
But the impact of a Giving Tuesday campaign goes beyond the money raised. Thanks to its Giving Tuesday campaign last year, Manhattan Soccer Club (MSC), a BILL customer and New York City’s largest soccer club, gained over 50 new donors. “Because we are not like a traditional nonprofit whose primary funding source is derived from donations, we look at new engagements as achievements,” explains Samuel Arnoff, General Manager of MSC. “If we can cultivate one or two new families into long-term donors, that’s an added benefit.”
Giving Tuesday has led to similar successes for Dare Humanity, which advocates for women, children, and families in underserved communities. Dare Humanity’s Giving Tuesday campaigns have expanded its audience and donor base, says Kia Harris Tattegrain, Founder and Executive Director of Dare Humanity, who uses BILL for her nonprofit strategy and consulting business.
How to celebrate Giving Tuesday
Wondering how to make the most of Giving Tuesday for your nonprofit? We’ve got you covered with expert insights from Harris Tattegrain and Arnoff, based on their work behind-the-scenes of Giving Tuesday and other fundraising campaigns for their organizations.
1. Plan ahead
Every nonprofit’s capacity varies, but as a general rule of thumb, Harris Tattegrain recommends kicking off Giving Tuesday campaign planning at least 3 months in advance, i.e., in late August. She and her Dare Humanity team typically start content planning at least a month out. They use this time to write, approve, and schedule social posts and emails.
Start rolling out your promotion efforts 1.5 to 2 weeks before Giving Tuesday, she suggests. If you wait until the day of, you might have a harder time standing out from the crowd. “Giving Tuesday is highly saturated, which means that just about every nonprofit’s going to be participating,” Harris Tattegrain explains. Starting early gives donors time to prepare, too, she adds. As they decide where to donate their hard-earned coin this Giving Tuesday, you want to be on their radar.
That said, don’t sweat it if you’re a little late to the party. “Give yourself grace,” Harris Tattegrain says. “If you’re not able to do as much as you want, that’s ok. Just do what you can.”
No matter when you start planning, make sure to post on social media and send emails multiple times on Giving Tuesday, she adds. If you post on Facebook only once in the morning, you might miss members of your audience who check Facebook later in the day.
2. Do your cost-cutting homework
If you’re using a fundraising platform or website, Arnoff suggests looking for opportunities to reduce transaction fees, operating fees, and other costs. Give Lively offers a free fundraising platform for nonprofits, for example, and Facebook doesn’t charge nonprofits fundraising fees.
In short, putting in that extra legwork can be worth it–-but “certainly don’t wait for the last week before to start doing all this, because it takes time,” Arnoff says.
3. Make sure your organization’s financial information is up-to-date
Update the financial info listed on nonprofit databases like GuideStar or Charity Navigator, if necessary. Expect people to comb through these websites as they decide who to donate to this Giving Tuesday. “I think donors are becoming more and more savvy,” Arnoff says. He adds that these days, they’re doing their own research to make sure that a) you’re a legit 501(c) and b) you’re spending the majority of your dollars on programs, not on admin and fundraising.
4. Get creative with goal-setting
You don’t have to set a fundraising goal for Giving Tuesday. Some nonprofits don’t, Harris Tattegrain says. Instead, they might aim to increase volunteer sign-ups to help them build a pipeline of volunteers for the upcoming year. Or they might want to hit a certain number of monthly donors, which can save them time finding new donors for every campaign. Thinking outside the box can free you to set goals that could benefit your organization in ways that aren’t tied to a specific dollar amount.
5. Cultivate community–not just $$$
“Don’t make it so that your success is just based on numbers or how much money you’ve been able to raise,” Harris Tattegrain says. Consider other measures of success, she suggests.
For example, “let’s say it’s your first time participating in Giving Tuesday, and your team dynamic was amazing,” Harris Tattegrain says. “You were communicating well. You were creating creative content. Maybe you brought on someone new, and they did an amazing job.”
Harris Tattegrain considers every single one of Dare Humanity’s fundraising campaigns successful. “For nonprofits to be able to get individuals who are ultimately strangers, who may not even meet their beneficiaries, to give and support them–I think that’s success,” she explains.
She and her team look not at the numbers, but at what they’ve accomplished. Even if they raise, say, 50% of their goal, that’s still 50% more funds than they had before. “Whatever the team dynamic looks like for the nonprofit, it’s important to highlight, ‘This is what we were able to accomplish as a team, and this is what it’s going to do for the people we serve,’” she says.
6. Create a campaign landing page that checks all the boxes
First, make sure your nonprofit has an online donation form up and running. Then customize it for Giving Tuesday. Harris Tattegrain says it should include the following information to help it easy for donors to know, at a glance, how your nonprofit would use their Giving Tuesday donation:
- The title of your campaign. Again, specificity is key. (“Giving Tuesday 2023 Campaign” won’t cut it, in other words.)
- The campaign goal
- What the campaign aims to accomplish
- Who the campaign will impact. Share stories or photos, if possible.
- How to get involved
- A donor timeline that shows not only progress toward the goal, but who’s donated and how much. “We find that donors will start to give based on past gifts,” Harris Tattegrain says. Seeing that a friend has donated, for example, might inspire them to follow suit.
7. Get creative with marketing
Sure, GivingTuesday.org offers logos you can use to promote your campaign on social media, but that still leaves plenty of room for creativity, Harris Tattegrain says. Think of how to promote not only Giving Tuesday, but what it would mean for donors to give to your campaign in particular. Maybe that means posting a Reel on Instagram instead of the usual static post.
Looking for a tool to create social media and other marketing images? Harris Tattegrain recommends Canva, an online graphic design app that’s easy for even non-designers to use.
8. Personalize your comms
Taking the time to tailor your Giving Tuesday emails and other comms to your audience, as well as to your campaign, can make them more effective, according to Harris Tattegrain and Arnoff.
First things first, “they should come from individuals that the membership can associate with,” Arnoff says. A message from an MSC board president might be less effective than one from a director of coaching, who parents regularly see on the field. “They're more eager to give because they can rationalize in their head, ‘If I give a dollar, or $5, or whatever it is, it's because I know this person, and I know they're doing X, Y and Z, and this is the benefit that I'm getting in return.’”
Secondly, make it crystal clear to donors how much of a difference their donations will make by highlighting only a few impacts, Arnoff adds–not a generic laundry list of everything your nonprofit has accomplished with all donations received to date. “I think naming 3 or 4 things your nonprofit has accomplished with donations received to date in your Giving Tuesday communications is more powerful than a blanket approach where you're naming all these things, and it’s not quite clear how donors’ money is going to be allocated,” he says.
Finally, think beyond text-only email appeals. Show your donors that your Giving Tuesday campaign is no ordinary campaign. Harris Tattegrain and her Dare Humanity team have embedded short videos into their emails, for instance, allowing donors to see and hear from a person.
9. Embrace technology
For nonprofits with limited resources, a financial automation solution like BILL can free up time to focus on Giving Tuesday fundraising, rather than tedious manual accounting processes.
That’s been the case for MSC. Before BILL, “I didn't even have as much time as I do now to think about fundraising,” Arnoff says. “A lot of that time was being spent on filing papers, bankers boxes for the auditors, storage of these bankers boxes X number of years based on IRS requirements. All that went away when we moved to the cloud.”
New tech usually comes with a learning curve. But BILL’s isn’t huge, Arnoff says–and the payoff is “just enormous.” “I think if a not-for-profit understands the value and the power of technology, and embraces it, they'll quickly realize their return,” he adds.
10. Remember: Mindset matters
Heading into Giving Tuesday with a positive outlook can make all the difference. “Nonprofits will be successful based on their mentality towards it,” Harris Tattegrain says. “If they’re optimistic about it, they’re going to have a great campaign. Just be positive, be consistent, and realize you are making an impact. It’s not always about the numbers.”
All of this is to say, the fact that your nonprofit’s even running a Giving Tuesday campaign already deserves a round of applause. Yes, make the most of it. But amid the flurry of preparations, don’t forget to celebrate you–and your team’s–commitment to making a difference.
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