This has been a challenging year for many nonprofits in the midst of a global health emergency and economic fragility. This has impacted nonprofit operations with many offices being closed, plus the additional impacts on their donors and volunteers. In the midst of these unusual circumstances, what will Giving Tuesday look like this year?
As I wrote recently about year-end fundraising, there is considerable evidence that charitable giving has been strong this year, in spite of the personal and family hardships that many have encountered. Hopefully this is a positive sign that your supporters will respond favorably to your Giving Tuesday campaign.
Giving Tuesday has grown in a mere five years into a global day of giving, and it looks like it's here to stay. This year your challenge will be to craft a campaign that can reflect the unique social and political environment that we're in now.
In this post, we'll discuss six ways to create a compelling Giving Tuesday campaign, whether your goal is to rally support for your cause, engage with your volunteers, or raise money.
1. Find a Unique Campaign Theme
While Giving Tuesday is its own theme, it's best if you can find a way to connect your donors with a compelling campaign or project that will inspire them to give. Perhaps you can describe a local project that has been driven by volunteers and needs financial support to grow. Giving Tuesday is a great time to celebrate your donors, volunteers, or other community heroes who have made a difference for your cause. Consider how you can focus on projects related to the coronavirus pandemic, the economic downturn, high unemployment, or the battle over the U.S. Census, so that your appeal is connected to our turbulent times.
If you're working with a corporate partner or a major donor, perhaps they can match donations or enable further charitable actions. Be sure to include partner logos on photos, videos, and donation pages.
To further inspire your creativity, I recommend the excellent resources that are available from the GivingTuesday.org organization. Each year, they curate a collection of materials to help organization succeed with their campaigns:
Messaging tips to help you talk about Giving Tuesday 2020
How to deal with "donor fatigue" during a tumultuous year that also included elections across the country
How to use your social media channels to activate donors
Sample social media messages
Sample communications timeline in the lead-up to Tuesday, December 1
Graphics you can use
Sample press releases
How to host a virtual Giving Tuesday event
Materials in English and Spanish
2. Sharpen Your Fundraising Messaging
Giving Tuesday is a one-day event, but you don't have to limit yourself to one day. You'll probably also be fundraising later in December. Consider who you'll be targeting with your Giving Tuesday campaign and how it might impact your other December fundraising efforts.
Many organizations use Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to kick off their year-end fundraising campaigns. Others craft their Giving Tuesday campaign as a separate and distinct effort. Whatever you decide to do, make sure your messaging clearly reflects this, so that your volunteers, donors, and followers understand how best to engage with you.
Check out this blog post on How to Maximize Year-End Giving in 2020 and Beyond, which offers a helpful approach for how to design your fundraising campaign.
Also, the folks at GoFundMe have chronicled five great Giving Tuesday nonprofit storytelling examples to inspire you on how to craft great fundraising appeals.
3. Focus on New Supporters and Small Gifts
Giving Tuesday can be a great opportunity for your organization to connect with new supporters or volunteers, especially if you're active on social media. Be sure your campaign messaging and visuals actively encourage the sharing of your Giving Tuesday campaign. Ask your volunteers to share your campaign on Facebook. Set up an Instagram hashtag that can attract new visitors. Encourage your supporters to set up a Facebook Fundraising campaign to raise money from friends, family, and co-workers.
This blog post on 3 Steps to Giving Tuesday Success offers some very useful tips on how to use social media during Giving Tuesday.
Since Giving Tuesday is designed as a one-day event, you may want to keep your engagement or fundraising goals modest, especially if you're just getting started. Year after year, you can increase your campaign goal as you learn what outreach techniques are the most effective for you.
If you're fundraising, be sure your campaign messaging encourages new gifts, regardless of size. Your donation page should have a gift string that starts as low as $5. One of your goals for Giving Tuesday is to recruit new donors, so keep the bar low.
4. Incorporate Crowdfunding
If your volunteers are the kind of folks who like to rise to the occasion, a Giving Tuesday crowdfunding campaign may be the thing for you. With crowdfunding, a volunteer sets up a giving page with a financial goal and then reaches out to his or her network of friends and followers to raise small gifts.
Social platforms such as Facebook make this easy with Facebook Fundraisers, or you can also turn to other services such as GoFundMe, CauseVox, Fundly, Causes, or Rally.org, which also make the process easy.
This blog post on 8 Tips on How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign will help you plan your Giving Tuesday crowdfunding campaign.
5. Get the Timing Right
Giving Tuesday always falls on a Tuesday, but you can start your messaging up to a week ahead of time with email and social media promotion, including on the weekend.
Why not add some follow-up messaging on Wednesday or Thursday to thank your donors?
If you need some advice on how to schedule this, check out this blog post on 6 Emails You Should Send Donors Leading Up To Giving Tuesday. You don't have to follow this advice to the letter, but it's sure to inspire you.
6. Inspire Your Younger Supporters to Give
Giving Tuesday is a very social and hashtag-friendly day of giving, something that appeals to all generations, but especially to millennials and Generation Z (donors under the age of 35). This is an important donor and volunteer demographic to engage with, so make sure that all aspects of your campaign are mobile-friendly, from your emails to your donation page.
While you may want to use email to promote your Giving Tuesday campaign, be sure to pay equal attention to your social media messaging where these younger crowds hang out. Also, be sure to encourage social sharing, so your Giving Tuesday campaign can travel far and wide.
For more ideas on how to engage with your younger supporters, I recommend this blog post, 7 Steps to Fundraising from Millennials: Getting Them to Give, which offers some practical strategies. And this post, Three Ways to Attract Millennials to Your Nonprofit, offers some useful techniques for building trust, using social media to your advantage, and incentivizing giving.
This article originally appeared in TechSoup.org on November 13, 2020.