Giving Tuesday or Bust

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Normally I wear my fundraising consultant hat but I am now sitting on the other side of the desk, as an interim staff person at a small nonprofit, trying to figure out whether or not my organization should participate in Giving Tuesday for the first time.

As you may know, Giving Tuesday is an annual day of philanthropy that was started in 2012 as a response to the over-the-top consumer culture represented by Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s an effort to encourage generosity and giving back to our communities, after gorging oneself on food and shopping post-Thanksgiving. In 2015, more than $116.7 million was raised on Giving Tuesday.

While I’m glad that there is increasing awareness of the importance of supporting the causes we care about, and will suggest ways you can take advantage of Giving Tuesday this year, I also want to note that a one-day push for funds does not replace a year-round fundraising program that focuses on building relationships with your donors. (See article in a previous newsletter, “The Problem with Doing Most of Your Fundraising at Year End (and What You Can Do About It)”)

Having said that, there are benefits from joining a nationally visible campaign to boost your own fundraising efforts. At this point, with less than a month to prepare, you may be feeling it’s too late to gear up and participate in Giving Tuesday on November 29th this year. It’s not, although you do need to start now to make the most of this opportunity.

And finally, if this is more than you are able to add to your plate now, the following steps are ones that you can use for other fundraising campaigns, including those that you already have in the works.

Here’s how I would prioritize what to do in the remaining weeks ahead.

1.  Figure out what you are raising money for. Maybe you could piggyback on what you are already planning to raise money for in your end-of-year campaign.  That way, Giving Tuesday would become one strategy toward your year-end goal.

2.  Identify and solicit donors for a pooled challenge gift.  Hopefully you are already figuring out which of your donors you want to meet with this year to ask for their gift.  You could maximize the power of their gift by seeing if they would be willing to let you use it toward a pooled challenge gift to inspire other donors to give.  That way, you could say, “Charlie Santiago, Claire Samuels, and Cindy Ho have pooled their gifts and created a $5,000 challenge to encourage you to give generously to X organization on Giving Tuesday to meet our $10,000 goal.”

3.  Secure your fundraising team.  Get as many people as you can – board members, staff, volunteers, and donors – to commit NOW to help you raise money on Giving Tuesday.  Be very clear about what they would be doing – for example, asking their friends and contacts by email and through social media to give to your organization – and provide them scripts and fun photos, videos and graphics to help them do it.  

4.  Create an email and social media plan.  Be creative and spend time coming up with a few strong graphics and emails that you can send out weekly leading up to November 29th and then a couple throughout the day marking your progress toward your goals.  

5.  Create a unique online giving page for donors to go to make their gifts.  And be sure to put something up on your website’s homepage about Giving Tuesday, as well as on your organization’s social media pages.

6.  Lastly, have fun.  This is a fundraising strategy that can be really exciting to execute, especially if you can recruit even a few people to participate with you.  Consider inviting your fundraising team to come together in the last couple of hours of your campaign on November 29th to celebrate and work together to get the last gifts in.

Let us know if you decide to participate and we can send shouts out to you on our Klein and Roth Facebook page letting our followers know about your Giving Tuesday campaign.