Is Giving Tuesday Right for Your Organization?

Since its founding in 2012, Giving Tuesday has become a major fundraising focus for nonprofits around the world. Started by the 92nd Street Y in New York to combat the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the annual event takes place on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, this year on December 3, and has grown to involve nearly $400 million in charitable gifts. The Giving Tuesday nonprofit organization provides valuable resources to help individual organizations’ campaigns across 60 countries, making this a popular fundraising tool.

Is a Giving Tuesday campaign right for your nonprofit? Or should you choose your own path? In a recent three-part series, global fundraising consulting firm Graham-Pelton offers this framework to help you decide.

Should You Participate in Giving Tuesday?

Nonprofits of all sizes and in all sectors can use Giving Tuesday to their advantage, though, according to giving platform Blackbaud, those within education and human services tend to be most successful. Some organizations with more than $10 million in philanthropic revenue get more than half of their total dollars donated on Giving Tuesday. If your organization is smaller and in a different field, however, you may still be an excellent candidate for a Giving Tuesday campaign. Consider these questions during your evaluation process:

  • What is the typical age of your donor base? The average Giving Tuesday donor is 25 years old, thanks in large part to the event’s enormous online presence. If your donors fall near that age or if appealing to a younger donor base is a priority, Giving Tuesday can be effective.
  • Do you hope to attract new donors? Organizations that participate in Giving Tuesday acquire three to five times the number of new donors that day than any other during the year, and 15% of those donors contribute again within one year, according to giving platform Classy.
  • Do you have the right infrastructure? Giving Tuesday may not feel like a major initiative because it takes place almost entirely online, but boards and executive leaders must recognize that it still requires time, staff, and processing capacity to succeed. Successful events tend to have volunteer advocates coupled with strong marketing campaigns featuring donor stories and beneficiary testimonials. To maximize support, it may make sense to partner with nonprofits that have a similar regional or mission focus to share fundraising marketing resources.
  • Is this the right time for a special fundraising campaign? While Giving Tuesday can alleviate fiscal year needs if successful, it may also divert from volunteer and staff efforts that yield far higher results for your organization, such as engaging with prospective major donors before December 31. Some organizations also choose to run their unique online campaigns on an annual date that holds special meaning to their community.

Having a clear goal for your Giving Tuesday event is essential, and these questions will help you determine that vision and evaluate your ability to succeed.

Tips for Success

If you’ve chosen to move forward with a Giving Tuesday event, Graham-Pelton’s third article in the series will help you start planning your approach. It’s best to start planning as early as possible, so consider incorporating Giving Tuesday planning into your yearly strategy. Next, identify your champions. These are the volunteers and other ambassadors who will receive training in how to best make an impact and ideally make gifts early in the day, share their enthusiasm for your mission, and encourage others to participate. Finally, set clear and consistent goals for the day. Whether you want to reach a certain number of donors, fund a particular initiative, or simply raise as much as you can, be sure that everyone understands what they’re working towards.

When developing your marketing campaign for Giving Tuesday, remember that the event takes place almost entirely on social media channels, and that marketing will need to continue (and be adaptable and fresh) throughout the day. Make your messages shareable and tailor them to each platform. This can help supporters spread the word about your goals and keep them updated throughout the day, encouraging momentum. Announcing when you’ve accomplished each of your goals and launching a new one as the day goes on, sharing stories and testimonials from beneficiaries in real time, and thanking donors as quickly as possible after they make a contribution can also boost morale.

For more information about how to organize a successful Giving Tuesday event and whether to undertake one, please read Graham-Pelton’s series of articles, beginning with “Giving Tuesday Part One: A History of Giving Tuesday.