GivingTuesday is a global day of generosity that takes place every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. In 2019, GivingTuesday raised over $511 million in the U.S. This year, GivingTuesday launched GivingTuesdayNow on May 5 in response to emergency needs facing nonprofits due to COVID-19. GivingTuesdayNow created a sense of global unity in the face of the pandemic and raised over $503 million only six months after GivingTuesday 2019.
The annual giving day has gained significant attention due to its success and the power it has in mobilizing support from large segments of society. However, with the recent GivingTuesdayNow event and during a year of such irregular giving, many development professionals are wondering if they should participate in this year’s GivingTuesday. The guidance below can help your nonprofit make a thoughtful decision about whether or not to participate.
What have you done historically? If your organization has always participated in GivingTuesday, it might make sense to keep the tradition if your donors are expecting this touchpoint. If you plan on participating in future years, it is especially important to maintain continuity. However, you can get creative with this touchpoint. Rather than sending out a giving appeal, you may use it as an opportunity to thank your donors for their support, especially if you ran a GivingTuesdayNow campaign or if another fundraising event is upcoming.
Does a GivingTuesday campaign align with your strategy? Evaluate your strategic plan and whether an appeal makes sense at this time. If it feels arbitrary to you to run a GivingTuesday campaign, it likely feels that way to your donors. Consider other special dates that your organization can rally around that feel more meaningful. For example, holidays such as Veteran’s Day or Native American Heritage Day may align better with your mission and feel more authentic to your donors.
How does GivingTuesday fit into your events and communications calendar? With year-end appeals, quarterly renewals, annual benefits, and the holidays quickly approaching, your calendar is likely already packed with events and outreach. If GivingTuesday falls at an inopportune time on your organization’s calendar, there could be opportunities for synergy between the giving day and your other activities. For example, if GivingTuesday occurs during the same week as your virtual gala, you can leverage the giving day as a marketing tool for the annual gala, rather than squeezing in an additional appeal.
How large is your organization? GivingTuesday is particularly well-suited for organizations with limited brand recognition. By harnessing GivingTuesday’s global social media presence, smaller nonprofits can quickly engage larger audiences and create a sense of collaboration and community around their mission. Donors and supporters will be encouraged to share posts and “tag” nonprofits they support, expanding an organization’s reach.
Do you have an important story to share? GivingTuesday is an opportunity for organizations to tell a story in new and engaging ways through creative posts and videos. The more creative and engaging the post, the more likely it is to be re-shared, thus increasing awareness around a nonprofit’s mission.
Are you looking to elevate your culture of philanthropy? GivingTuesday is good for more than just raising dollars. Staff members, board members, and volunteers will have an opportunity to advocate for your organization by sharing posts and inviting others to give. If you recognize an improvement opportunity in your organization’s culture of philanthropy, consider participating in GivingTuesday.
Does your organization have the capacity and resources to effectively run an additional campaign? Your organization should evaluate its staff capacity and resources before taking on an additional campaign during a busy time of year. Though a GivingTuesday campaign often leverages organic content and the movement of a hashtag, it will still require thorough planning, execution, and follow-through to be successful. If your resources are stretched due to other obligations, your GivingTuesday campaign may present as not thoughtful or incomplete.
If your organization decides to participate, check out CCS’s tips on getting started with planning.
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About the Authors
Catherine Sun, Executive Director at CCS Fundraising, provides high-touch consultative services to nonprofit clients ranging from higher education to environmental organizations through a blend of research and analysis, strategic planning, and project management. Organizations that have benefitted from Catherine's counsel in the past include: The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Southwestern Law School, and the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
Samantha Leveugle, Executive Director at CCS Fundraising, is a strategic fundraising consultant in the nonprofit space with expertise in faith-based organizations. Samantha specializes in major gifts strategy, capital campaigns, and campaign planning studies. Informed by her faith, Samantha partners with mission-driven organizations to address the needs of her local community and the world at-large to catalyze transformational change.