How To Win Giving Tuesday

It may seem hard to believe, but #GivingTuesday is almost here!


Now in its fourth year, Giving Tuesday has already become known nationwide as the anti “Black Friday”.

Taking place the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday taps into the backlash against the commercialization of the holiday season that has steadily built up over the last decade.

As our focus turns to the most charitable season of the year, it is becoming increasingly obvious that nonprofits have an amazing opportunity to incorporate a Giving Tuesday strategy into their end-of-year giving campaigns.

giving tuesday

What many donors and nonprofits find appealing about Giving Tuesday is the awareness it brings about the importance of philanthropy during the biggest gift-giving time of the year.

Helping society stay focused on giving charitably during a season that focuses more on gift getting reminds us of the less fortunate among us and to be thankful for what we have by paying forward our good fortune.

From the perspective of nonprofit organizations, Giving Tuesday’s megawatt visibility creates the perfect opportunity to discover and engage with donors who otherwise would not become connected to your cause.

In addition to using all the FREE branding tools and resources available on the Giving Tuesday website to jazz up your emails, profile photos, and social media posts — don’t forget to use the #GivingTuesday hashtag! — here are 3 strategic approaches your nonprofit can start using to turn these new names into loyal lifetime donors.

The Black Friday Approach

As far as consumer-centric holidays go, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in a league of their own. Nonprofits can use this to their advantage.

These two shopping holidays are massively successful in large part due to the perceived urgency and limited availability of the savings they claim to offer.

Another reason these two days are so huge for the retail industry is because everyone is looking to save money. In many cases, this is so they can have money left over to buy more things.

This is where your nonprofit comes in: turn this idea on its head.

Instead of using those Black Friday deal savings to buy more, encourage your donors to donate those savings to your nonprofit organization on Giving Tuesday!

And since Giving Tuesday is a one-day campaign just like Black Friday, your nonprofit can adopt the same techniques retailers use to get shoppers in the door.

  • Stress the short duration of the campaign. (i.e. “ONE DAY ONLY!”)
  • Have a countdown each hour, starting at midnight.
  • Offer incentives to donors if they “act now”.
  • Highlight a different cause or campaign every hour and promote competitions to see which need will attract the most donations

You can also copy the Black Friday marketing methods and “leak” your giving campaign early. Post these “leaks” on your social media pages and in email blast campaigns. Have a contest between your staff members to come up with clever subject lines to increase open rates.

Create a Giving Tuesday “catalog” with different levels of donations and what they equate to for your organization. For example, “Hearty Meal for a Family of Four! Was $25, NOW ONLY $10!”

The Peer Pressure Approach

Studies have shown that the number one influence on donors is NOT a nonprofit’s marketing approach. It’s the donor’s friends and family.

Nonprofits can take advantage of this knowledge by encouraging donors to share their support after making a donation. This can be done by using social sharing buttons on the online donation confirmation page, by incentivizing the “share” action through matching funds or donor appreciation gifts, or by encouraging donors to post a photo in support of the campaign.

Taking that last idea a step further, encourage your donors to make testimonial videos on Giving Tuesday using Vine or YouTube explaining why they chose to give to your org.

A great way to kick this off is by starting with your staff and having them nominate their friends to follow their lead. (Bonus points for creating a visual symbol, logo, image, or hashtag they can use to represent your nonprofit in the video!)

Speaking of which, this “peer pressure” approach can also be used on Giving Tuesday to inspire your staff and volunteers to become more involved with your organization. Implement tactics and programs to renew their dedication by reinforcing your mission and giving them a greater sense of purpose. (This is where a progress meter could have some serious impact.)

End-of-year campaigns can be physically and emotionally draining for your staff members. Remind them why they should care. Then support them while they support your organization. Listen to their ideas and come up with ways to foster teamwork so that no one is “burnt out” come New Year’s Eve.

The Cultivation Approach

Donors looking to ease their tax burden next year through charitable contributions near the end of 2015 make up a not-insignificant percentage of participants on Giving Tuesday.

Use this opportunity to invite them to turn their one-time donation into a recurring gift, i.e. make every Tuesday “Giving Tuesday”.

Don’t underestimate the value of donor cultivation at this stage.

Giving Tuesday might be the only time your nonprofit is visible to many of these audiences, so be sure to make the most of it.

Remember: the best way to avoid the costs of new donor acquisition is to forge lifelong relationships with existing donors!

And last but not least… don’t forget to add your org to the list of participating nonprofits on the official Giving Tuesday website: GivingTuesday.org/join!

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