Giving Tuesday Done Right – A KISS Plan for Small Nonprofits

This November 27th is Giving Tuesday, the Global Day of giving that has been growing each year exponentially since 2012.

Let’s look at last year’s numbers:

  • Over $300 million raised – almost twice the amount raised in 2016.
  • Over 2.5 million gifts averaging $120.
  • Top causes were all the feel-good causes: Human Services, Health, Education, Animal Welfare, Environment, Public and Societal Benefit.

In short, GivingTuesday is not going anywhere:

Giving Tuesday results

So, should YOUR nonprofit participate?

Yes, Giving Tuesday is enormous. However, size isn’t everything. Consider your audience, resources, and strategy before jumping on the bandwagon.

Last year, I asked a few of my colleagues why nonprofits should or shouldn’t participate in Giving Tuesday.

Here are a few questions I pose to my clients who are considering a Giving Tuesday campaign:

How to Make a Solid Plan of Action for Giving Tuesday

Planning can be tedious, yes, but it’s everything. After working with hundreds of nonprofits over the past several years, I’ve discovered that a critical element of success is planning.

Poor planning almost always leads to poor results.

Let’s dig in!

1. Know Your People

You can’t achieve even a basic level of success on Giving Tuesday if you don’t understand what motivates your people.

No one will like, retweet, or donate if you haven’t answered the only question that matters: What’s in it for them?

The reason why supporters donate is simple: You give them a heart-breaking problem that they can solve.

To do this, you have to understand what made them decide to give in the first place. What’s their story? Why do they care enough about breast cancer to donate or volunteer?

Your ideal prospect for Giving Tuesday are people who already like, know, and trust your nonprofit. Proof of this exists in the fact that they have donated, volunteered, pledged, or showed up at an event. They’re in your community. They’re right under your nose in your database!

Start by segmenting your database into:

  • First-time donors – The only thing you know about these people is that they’re willing to part with their money at least once. However, most probably won’t come back.
  • Repeat donors – Holy cow they came back!
  • Lapsed donors – Why did they lapse?
  • Donors by giving level – Given level only reflects an ability to give, not passion.
  • Volunteers who haven’t given – Time is worth more than money, so asking should be a slam dunk.
  • Board members – Come people! All board members should salt the jar for Giving Tuesday.

Decide which segment is best to target for your Giving Tuesday campaign and then develop messages that speak to them.

2. Have a Clear Destination

If you don’t have a destination, any result will do. Any best practice will do too.

Clear objectives help you determine if you were successful or not. Long-term success with online fundraising requires lots of trial and error, and clear goals can tell you very quickly what’s a trial and what’s an error.

The objectives you choose might vary depending on your overall goals for fundraising.

Maybe your goal is to increase your number of monthly donors. Perhaps it’s to increase your number of new donors. Perhaps it’s to retain more repeat donors. You get the idea.

3. Develop a Donor-Centric Strategy

Enough about you let’s talk about me.

A good strategy focuses on a value exchange between you and your supporter. What are you going to give in exchange for your supporters email, money, time, influence and attention? WIIFM?

Whether it’s a meaningful pledge or a sweepstake, write down exactly how you will offer enough value to encourage them to help you achieve your objective.

In my experience, a winning strategy is one that weaves your Giving Tuesday event into your overall fundraising strategy and especially year-end fundraising – your biggest money-maker for the entire year. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Use Giving Tuesday as a way to appreciate your donors, setting the stage for greater year-end participation.
  2. Focus on donor acquisition during Giving Tuesday, and upgrading those folks to monthly donors at year-end.
  3. Promote your monthly giving program during Giving Tuesday, and one-time gifts during year-end.
  4. During Giving Tuesday ask donors to make a year-end pledge (promise to pay) and close these pledges during year-end.
  5. Ask donors to support local retailers who are sponsoring your year-end event.
  6. Your amazingly creative idea goes here.

4. Define Your Tactics and Tools

Once you understand your people, objective, and strategy, you can confidently select the tools and tactics you’ll use for your campaign.

Also, use all marketing channels!

Multichannel fundraising via postal mail, your website, telemarketing, social media, is the most effective way to raise money.

Here’s why:

  • First-time donors often start online.
  • Many online-acquired donors may eventually switch to direct mail.
  • Without the ability to donate via direct mail, online donors would be worth far less.

One of my favorite social media strategies is to use Facebook or Instagram live to promote your Giving Tuesday campaign. Here are 35 ideas for telling your story on Giving Tuesday.

5. Get Your Timing Right

If you’re a small nonprofit, you have to get the word out early and often to compete with the big boys. Remember, you’re not the only nonprofit they’re interested in supporting on Giving Tuesday.

Consider this three-phase plan for your timing:

  1. Announce: Announce your Giving Tuesday campaign early November. Focus on getting core donors in the door so that they can be your core spokespeople and promoters leading up to Giving Tuesday.
  2. Remind: Remind donors who haven’t given yet. Timing on this varies by segment but shoot for reminding folks the week before.
  3. Last Chance: The night before and the day of Giving Tuesday remind your supporters several times that today is the day. Give it all you got!

Is Giving Tuesday Right for Your Nonprofit?

Well, it depends. It depends on resources, staff, willingness to learn and other factors. The critical factor in my experience is having 100% executive support. If you’re a marketing coordinator and you’re the only one excited for Giving Tuesday, you’ll have to build support, OR you’ll get very frustrated.

It also depends on your cause. According to the research from Giving Tuesday, top causes were all the feel-good causes: Human Services, Health, Education, Animal Welfare, Environment, Public and Societal Benefit.

Lastly, if you’re new to online fundraising, consider using Giving Tuesday to build your muscles and know-how for future campaigns. Start with the ideas and the plan I shared with you in this article!

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John Haydon