5 Epic Ways to Ruin Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

Giving Tuesday, the Global Day of giving is on November 29, 2016.

CauseVox has thought a lot about best practices for a Giving Tuesday campaign. But when we started thinking about our own GivingTuesday plans, we realized there are also some very real ways to burn your Giving Tuesday campaign to the ground. Some “worst practices”, if you will.

This is not what you want for your GivingTuesday campaign.

This is not what you want for your GivingTuesday campaign.

So here we have it, five excellent ways to ruin your GivingTuesday campaign.

1. Wing It

How To Make This Mistake: Don’t plan anything. Wait until Thanksgiving to even think about it. On November 29, slap some hashtags on Twitter, mention the day in passing on Facebook, and wait for the donations to roll in. Get frustrated when they don’t, and conclude that all those experts who keep telling you to participate in GivingTuesday are cruel jokers who hate nonprofits, and, specifically, you.

Why We Make This Mistake: We’re busy. We don’t decide to leave things to the last minute because we don’t care. We do it because we’re understaffed and overbooked.

What To Do Instead: Start early. Most of the nonprofit customers we talk to who do GivingTuesday campaigns say they want to plan more the next year. Your Giving Tuesday fundraising plan doesn’t need to be extensive, but it does need to … exist.

Be sure to include the following:

2. Only Ask For Donations, Don’t Tell A Story

How To Make This Mistake: Set a campaign goal. Share it with your supporters. Don’t put it in context or demonstrate the impact of the money, just continue to state that you need it.

Why We Make This Mistake: As people on the inside of organizations, we already understand how dollars translate into programs. People on the outside don’t know that $20 means someone can call a hotline for help, or that $50 can provide a holiday meal for five homeless people–we have to tell them.

What To Do Instead: Tell the story of the good they help get done. Show them pictures and share the details of who they are helping and why it matters. Donors want to feel like helpful heroes, not ATMs.

Project Renewal, who raised over $77,000 on GivingTuesday in 2013, has a complex mission–to end the cycle of homelessness in New York City by empowering men, women, and children to renew their lives with health, homes, and jobs.

That’s a huge story, and kind of hard to wrap your head around. For their GivingTuesday campaign, they shared the video story of one person, 59-year old Harry Dickerson.

As Harry tells his own story about his experiences with homelessness and Project Renewal, we learn a lot about what the organization does, in a very human way. We have someone to connect to, someone we want to help. It becomes about more than dollars and cents, it becomes about supporting something.

That’s not to say you can never mention money, you just have to connect the money to the impact. This video from the National Domestic Violence Hotline is all about $20, but instead of simply asking for a donation, they demonstrate the real-life help that money will make possible.

3. Fail To Coordinate Your Channels

How To Make This Mistake: Choose one channel of communication with your donors, and only mention GivingTuesday there. It’s only GivingTuesday on Facebook, or your Twitter feed, or your website–never all three.

Why We Make This Mistake: GivingTuesday is an online movement, so it makes sense that we’d think of social media as the place for it. It’s easy to overlook the many ways you communicate with donors, and just focus on one channel.

What To Do Instead: Coordinate messaging across channels–consider how you’ll promote your campaign in your email, web, social, and print channels when you’re making your Giving Tuesday plan. Make it GivingTuesday everywhere your donors find you!

4. Create Technical Difficulties

How To Make This Mistake: Use outdated or difficult technology to run your campaign. Make sure it takes a really long time to make a donation, that would-be donors need to go through multiple screens to donate, and the whole thing is frustrating.

Bonus points if your donors aren’t sure they actually succeeded in donating after they’ve attempted to do so, or if they maybe just sent their credit card numbers out into the ether.

Why We Make This Mistake: I don’t know about you, but I didn’t go into fundraising because I’m some kind of tech wizard. “Learn to make a secure, attractive, customizable and supremely functional fundraising website” isn’t even on my to-do list.

Unless someone brings something better to my attention, and it’s really easy, I’m going to keep using whatever tech I’m already using.


What To Do Instead: Get yourself an easy and effective online fundraising platform. CauseVox fundraising campaigns are simple to use and setup without a designer or IT (even for those of us without much tech savvy!), customizable to your specific campaign, and attractively design. Also, follow these Giving Tuesday donation page tips.

5. Wait To Thank Your Donors

How To Make This Mistake: Decide you can bundle all your year-end donation thanking into one session, that you do in January. The only “thank you” your GivingTuesday donors will see before 2017 is the screen that pops up after they hit “submit” on their donations. Keep asking them for donations throughout your year-end campaign, though.

Why We Make This Mistake: I think it’s the busy season again, for sure. Also, a strange and incorrect feeling that things that happen solely online are less formal and somehow less real, than flesh and blood transactions. Sometimes we forget manners online that we would never neglect in real life.

What To Do Instead: Send your Giving Tuesday thank yous as soon as possible. Your donors should get an automatic confirmation email, but that doesn’t take the place of a thank you letter. I like to send Giving Tuesday thank yous the following day, but it’s a hectic season. It may take a couple days to get them out, but make sure to send something before your next ask.

Giving Tuesday Thank You

Giving Tuesday campaign on CauseVox.

We Want Your GivingTuesday Campaign To Succeed!

Needless to say, we do not want you to ruin your GivingTuesday campaign. Download this guide to planning a successful GivingTuesday campaign.

Candace is the Lead Customer Service Advocate at CauseVox. Passionate about helping nonprofits, she works to empower CauseVox users on crowdfunding best practices and curates the latest fundraising insights on the CauseVox blog.
John Haydon