Is #GivingTuesday Worth It for Your Nonprofit?

fundraising marketing strategy Oct 22, 2017

For the past five years, the buzz in nonprofit fundraising has been #GivingTuesday.

Observed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States, the day follows Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday with a poignant reminder that the end of the year should not only be about holiday consumerism, but a chance to show generosity to those less fortunate by supporting nonprofits.

As I’m sure you know, each year it has become more popular than the year before, which makes #GivingTuesday both a great opportunity and a movement that encourages (dare I say it) a bit of skepticism. While there are more donations year over year (in 2016, the cause raised $177 million online), they are spread out among an ever-increasing number of nonprofits that register on the #GivingTuesday website. Maybe you are one of them.

Concerns have been expressed that #GivingTuesday can compete with your other fall or end-of-year donation campaigns - and even totally overshadow those efforts.

If your thought is to attract new donors to your mission, the doubters ask, are they the donors you want? That is, are they giving because they believe in your cause or because they are feeling a societal pressure to give to a nonprofit, any nonprofit, because they are drowning in #GivingTuesday messaging. Remember, their social media feeds and email inboxes will be chock full of #GivingTuesday calls to action.

In addition, skeptics point out that #GivingTuesday campaigns can take a lot of effort and time; in fact, this year’s #GivingTuesday toolkit suggests that you should have started planning your campaign about three months ago. Are you feeling the pressure?

So for savvy marketers of small nonprofits, the question becomes: Is #GivingTuesday worth it?

I say yes, even if you are only starting to think about it now. But it will require a bit of strategizing to get the most out of the day. Here are some suggestions.

Even if you don’t have time to do a full-court press, there are ways to leverage #GivingTuesday into your existing end of year donation campaign.

  • Make it the kickoff to a longer end-of-year campaign. #GivingTuesday does not have to be a one-day event. Instead, position it as the exciting worldwide kickoff to your end-of-year campaign. Announce your organization’s overall campaign goal and then follow up, thanking #GivingTuesday donors for getting your efforts off to an amazing start. But also remind the rest of your supporters how far you need to go to reach your goal.

  • Engage your board. We all know that many times board members give us more time than treasure. And while their leadership is priceless, there’s no reason you can’t use #GivingTuesday as a way to encourage 100 percent financial participation from your board. It’s a natural ask, since they’ll be seeing #GivingTuesday on all their social media that day. Why shouldn’t they invest in a nonprofit they already care about?

    It would also give your board members the excuse to reach out to their families, friends and colleagues to support your nonprofit. (“I’m not only a member of the board. I’m also a donor, and that’s why I’m asking you to consider ABC Nonprofit for your donation this #GivingTuesday.”)

  • Target previous supporters who haven’t donated yet this year. You might have donors who typically do not give you their annual support until the fall and #GivingTuesday is a great way to remind them the year is almost over and it’s time to get their pledge in. It’s also a great excuse to reach out to previous contributors who have fallen off your donor rolls and re-connect.

  • Use #GivingTuesday as a simple way to gain exposure for your nonprofit this year. This is particularly useful if your nonprofit is more locally-based. #GivingTuesday’s website allows people to search for nonprofits in their area. If nothing else, you might get the attention of more future donors that live in your region.

If you are all set with your long-term #GivingTuesday outreach plan, good for you and best of luck on November 28th. But even if you aren’t, there’s ways to make this special day work for you by using the day as another way to connect with the people who already know you.

So tell me. Is #GivingTuesday worth it for your nonprofit? Why or why not?

Please enter your comments below.

And thank you for adding your voice to the conversation. As a community of small nonprofit leaders, marketers and communicators we can all learn from each other. 

Your kindness and support is greatly appreciated.