How to Decide if Your Organization Should Participate in #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday is a day that nonprofits will hear about for months before it occurs. It’s the Tuesday that follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and it encourages donors to give back after taking in a weekend full of great shopping deals.

On one hand, there is skepticism about the effectiveness of #GivingTuesday, especially for small nonprofit organizations. On the other hand, there are successful campaigns of all sizes that prove that there is value in participating in #GivingTuesday.

Whether you’re a large organization with a sizeable budget, or a small nonprofit with limited time and resources, there are ways to reach out on #GivingTuesday and benefit.

What the Skeptics are Saying

Because #GivingTuesday is such a high-traffic communication day, some fear that sending out a message to donors will only add to the clutter.

Social media is particularly flooded on #GivingTuesday, with Twitter and Facebook feeds full of “Donate Now” buttons and other call-to-action attempts.

Some fundraisers suggest that e-mail is the way to go for successful fundraising, yet inboxes will be just as flooded from nonprofit campaigns on #GivingTuesday.

Additionally, those who oppose #GivingTuesday campaigns fear that the amount of money raised on this day, when divided between the thousands of organizations that participate, results in an average marginal increase for each individual organization.

Instead, nonprofits, particularly those that are tight on time and resources, should focus their efforts towards standing out of a crowd and towards the few top donors that are already devoted to the organization. In other words, avoid #GivingTuesday altogether. Sounds safe, right?

Successful #GivingTuesday Campaigns

Although one argument aims to save nonprofits, specifically small ones, from wasting time and efforts just to be drowned out, there are many successful #GivingTuesday campaigns of all sizes that show the benefits of participating.

In 2014, the Alameda County Community Food Bank of Oakland, California raised over $85,000 across 300 donors, with the help of a strong campaign that incorporated a multi-channel approach (with email and social media, of course), a consistent brand image and visuals, and awesome corporate gift-matching.

On the same day, Wildlife SOS raised $4,000. After the initial email ask, the organization sent out additional emails that built momentum throughout the day, praising current donors and keeping potential donors in the loop. The next day, they sent out the results of the day, and encouraged people to give if they had not the previous day.

At this same time, the Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue raked in a little over $6,000 with a social media selfie campaign, an easy to navigate online giving page, and encouragement of recurring gifts after #GivingTuesday.

What Your Nonprofit Can Do

The previous campaigns are just a few examples, but what are the common denominators in the most successful #GivingTuesday campaigns? Although organizations with a large following and budget will have higher results to show for it, even the large organizations still took advantage of social media, email and landing pages just as much as the small organizations.

Social media, email asks and online webpages are all communication tools that your organization is likely already using, so repurposing them for a one-day campaign should come at little to no cost. It’s all about how creative, consistent and transparent you are with your audience.

How to Implement #GivingTuesday Strategies

Even if you are the smallest nonprofit or you’re just now considering a campaign, don’t fret. There are ways to get your message out there and attract donors:

  • Start with your current brand image and play with some cool graphic designs and visuals to change up the image.
  • Try changing the colors of your logo and adding some sort of unique #GivingTuesday badge or component to the logo.
  • Make any changes to your brand image unique enough that they will set you apart on #GivingTuesday, but are still easily distinguished as your current brand.
  • Roll out these changes across all platforms, such as Facebook cover photos, event pages, Twitter headers, website banners, email headers, etc.

These are simple and nearly free ways to differentiate your organization from the rest of the crowd and show donors that you are ready to work with them.

Remember to use your temporary, consistent image on any platform that you currently use to connect with constituents, such as Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. Current donors will notice the change, and potential donors might also since it’s something new on their feeds and inboxes.

Overall, keep a consistent image and ask across all channels of communication, and aim to build an honest relationship with your donors, whether they are one-timers or here for the long-run.

So is #GivingTuesday right for you? That’s up to your organization to decide—but by implementing some of these quick yet successful tactics, you have nothing to lose. We’d love for you to share what plans your organization has to make this #GivingTuesday an awesome one.

  • Interesting elements, especially about what the Skeptics says.
    Today Givingtuesday.org has released an article about Helpfreely:
    http://www.givingtuesday.org/raise-funds-for-your-favorite-nonprofits-when-you-shop-online-this-holiday-season/
    We think it’s a good occasion to solve one of the points in the article: “On one hand, there is skepticism about the effectiveness of
    #GivingTuesday, especially for small nonprofit organizations.”.
    For us, the Giving Tuesday is a good occasion for the Nonprofit to remember to their supporters that is possible to generate free funds through Helpfreely.org each time they shop online, and we think is a great occasion especially for small organizations, that for every supporter that uses the Helpfreely App, will have a small but continuous flow of funds every time people shops online.
    Great tips also about creating customized graphic for the event, we’re working on that! Thanks!

  • Luke Miller

    I think that it’s a really important conversation to have for many nonprofits. To participate effectively in an event like #GivingTuesday, there tends to be a lot of planning involved, and whether or not the benefits to participating on something of this scale is worth that investment of time and resources is something each organization should work out for themselves. Thanks for sharing this! Hopefully it helps organizations with this process.

    • Angela Cuadros

      I completely agree, Luke. Thank you for reading!