November 24, 2022
How To Run a Successful Giving Tuesday Campaign
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Giving Tuesday is our favorite day of the year and it should be yours too if you’re a nonprofit.

In 2021, nonprofit organizations raised 2.7 billion dollars in the US alone! Yet Giving Tuesday isn’t just an American phenomenon as over 80 countries are taking part this year on November 29th.

Giving Tuesday marks the start of the end-of-year giving season so a strong campaign can make a huge difference to the impact your organization makes in 2023. December is actually when 31% of donations occur so setting the tone right with your Giving Tuesday campaign is critical.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, we’ll walk you through how to create a Giving Tuesday campaign and give you some creative ideas for inspiration.


What is Giving Tuesday?

Black Friday has been around since the 1950s and has picked up momentum in the digital age. It’s a day of unadulterated consumerism where it’s not uncommon for people to spend money they don’t have on items they don’t need.

Giving Tuesday is the counterbalance to the shopping festival. It’s a day of global giving where people can support the good causes they believe in. It was dreamt up by Henry Timms in 2012 to encourage mass generosity to those who are less fortunate.

But Henry does not own the movement and designed it to be a concept with no barriers or gatekeepers. Anyone can run a Giving Tuesday campaign and enjoy the spotlight thrown onto nonprofit organizations during this day. 

This means there’s nothing stopping you from getting involved too!


How To Prepare For Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

The earlier you can begin your preparations for Giving Tuesday, the better your results will be. You don’t want to feel under pressure to make decisions with tight deadlines if you don’t have to.

It’s never too early to join your local chapter which is a community of other non-profits looking to inspire giving. You can share ideas and learn from each other so you can form the most effective strategies possible. It’s important to recognize the cultural nuances in how people approach giving so you can craft your message for your audience.

Also keep an eye out for Giving Tuesday grants offered by corporates and NGOs which can help to fund your efforts.

Choose a target

If this is your first Giving Tuesday, it can be hard to know what a realistic target looks like. Setting the bar too high can be demotivating for you and your team once it becomes clear you won’t reach it. Yet a bar too low will fail to inspire the team to put in their all.

Discuss the target with all the relevant internal stakeholders so everyone is onboard. You can find a way to motivate your team by offering bonuses for reaching the target.

You don’t have to think of Giving Tuesday as a pure fundraising campaign and you can consider other metrics too. Maybe you want to use the day to increase the number of individual donors or volunteers. These could actually serve your charity more than the most common vanity metrics.

Whatever your target, be sure to keep repeating it so it’s front and center of everyone’s minds in the run up to the big day.

If you’re a Giving Tuesday vet, use the information from last year to guide your target for this year but bear in mind changes in the resources available to you.

Plan your giving page

Most fundraising campaigns today rely on online donations. Yeti it can be overwhelming to choose which platform to use to collect donations because there are so many options. If you’re happy with the donation form you use to raise money then it’s best not to mess with it so you can focus your attention elsewhere. 

Choose the platform which maximizes the chances a visitor ends up contributing to your cause. The worst thing would be to lose people who want to help because they get stuck on a slow loading page or give up on filling out too many forms. Make sure the platform you choose allows you to harvest emails for future campaigns too!

Protestra used DonorBox for example and created a beautiful Giving Tuesday donation page with imagery, clear targets and an obvious way to donate money.

Craft your campaign message

You should avoid pushing random content out for Giving Tuesday in the hope something resonates. Streamline your messaging as much as possible so it’s easy for potential donors to understand why they should help. You could choose a specific project to center the messaging around for instance.

There are four different types of “calls to action” you can use in your messages; Direct Appeal, Urgency, Empowerment and Duty.

You can see Empowerment is the most popular message to craft and for good reason. This fosters a sense of doing good in the donor because they are catalysing a positive change. The other methods can be effective but can trigger resentment and lead to fewer repeat donations. 

Tap into a wider network

The reality this winter is many people in high-income countries are struggling financially. Inflation is at highs not seen in many years across Europe and North America. The pandemic took a significant toll on family finances. This reflects in the numbers as there are fewer smaller donors as people tighten their purse strings.

Luckily, the same report showed major donors are contributing even more to compensate. Corporations have been vilified in the past but many are taking their social responsibility seriously today. You should find corporate partners to accelerate your efforts.

Natwest Group is one example of a corporation that made a huge impact by partnering with 11 charities.

  • They promoted Giving Tuesday to millions through their newsletters and social channels.
  • They matched donations up to £50 made by their customers which encouraged customers to donate over 2 million dollars in 2020.
  • They allowed their employees to take extra days off to volunteer on meaningful projects.

Donation matching is a particularly powerful technique. 1-in-3 people indicated they would donate more if they knew their contribution was being matched. There are plenty of funds available for matching with an estimated $4-7 billion going unclaimed each year.

When selecting a partner, don’t necessarily go for the largest company. Work with an organization that has high alignment with your cause as they will be more passionate about your campaign. Let’s say you run a shelter for cats then you could partner with a company which makes nutritious food for felines.

Some partners may be able to put you in touch with influencers and celebrities who you could use to amplify your campaign.

Create meaningful content

Once you’ve secured partners, the next step is to pre-create all the content you’ll be using on the day itself. You’ll also want to have some content for the week before to prime your audience for what is about to come. 

Use ‘#GivingTuesday’ for all public social media posts to see an uplift in engagement from those actively looking for causes to support.

Just like with your tech, you won’t want to make drastic changes here if you already have a system. If you don’t you can use products like Canva and Figma to make beautiful looking social media content

As the rise of TikTok has shown, short form video content can be incredibly effective at reaching a large audience. Here are some ideas of how you can use it:

  • Influencer/celebrity endorsements
  • Transformation examples from work you’ve already done
  • Interviews with team members about what Giving Tuesday means to them
  • Interviews with previous donors about why they donated
  • Interviews with people who your organization has helped

Email is still the most effective way of encouraging donations. If you send a regular newsletter, then tell people to expect your Giving Tuesday campaign emails to build anticipation. 

Don’t be afraid to plan to send several messages on the day itself. The brutal truth is you will have people who subscribe but the number of subscribers is nothing more than a vanity metric if you don’t ask them for money!

Think outside the box

With so many non-profits all raising money on the same day, don’t limit your organization’s efforts to what everybody else is doing. 

Brainstorm wacky fundraising ideas with your team and see whether any are viable afterward. There have been plenty of bizarre concepts used by charities in the past you can use for inspiration.

Here are a few:

  • The Rock Creek Cancer Coalition hosted the Stinky Fish Challenge where if they raised $3000 by Giving Tuesday, their founder would eat the world’s stinkiest fish!
  • Greenpeace asked people to make spite donations based on a father in a major TV show deciding to give all his money to them rather than have it go to his ungrateful kids. Their traffic for the relevant page increased ten fold!
  • Pranksy hosted a charity NFT auction which went viral on social media with over 2000 retweets and 50.4 ETH raised. That’s $80,000 in today’s money!

You can even ask on your social media channels for suggestions from your audience. Unless you ask, you’ll never know what your existing donor base could be willing to do to help. This could be through your own campaign or a peer to peer campaign where a supporter sets up their own fundraising site with the proceeds going to your cause. Their ownership of the donation form means they are more likely to share widely on their social media without the need for interference by your organization.  

What to do on Giving Tuesday

With all your content pre-made and scheduled out, you shouldn’t have many planned tasks for the actual day. Instead, your focus should be on maximizing engagement with your social media campaign.

You must be active on all your social media channels and reply to comments and messages you receive. Reshare content when you’ve been tagged. You’ll especially want to celebrate donations to encourage others. If you have a fundraising goal then remember to keep directing your audience to the donation form. It’s worth having multiple people operating the accounts to ensure your presence is felt on this global day of charitable giving.

You’ll want to give regular social media updates throughout the day of how you’re progressing toward your goal too. You’re gamifying the process for your audience and they’ll feel empowered by knowing they can contribute to help you get to where you want to be. This can take the form of showing the impact. For example, so far today we’ve raised enough money to vaccinate 2000 children from Malaria!

If a member of your team is comfortable doing so, you can live stream throughout the day to give a human face to the campaign. You can call upon an influencer or celebrity to regularly go live and provide the touch point for your campaign instead too.

With an increase in donations, there is bound to be an increase in people experiencing technical difficulties. Ensure you have team members available to reply to support requests quickly so no one who wants to donate is prevented from doing so.

Also, remember to have fun! You’ve worked hard for today and because of your efforts, the world will be a better place.

The day after

Congratulations on running your Giving Tuesday campaign but as you know there is still much work to be done. 

There are two key activities you’ll need to make a start on.

Firstly, you need to engage with those who have joined your ecosystem whether they donated or not. Some people won’t have been ready to get out their credit cards on Giving Tuesday. You can educate them further through your newsletter and social channels and they may later become donors. 

Be sure to make those who did donate feel appreciated and send them updates with how their efforts have helped. The ideal result is for some of the people you’ve reached to become monthly donors. Keep an eye out for donors with large social media followings and approach them about being ambassadors for your next year’s campaign. 

The other activity you need to start is analysing how the campaign went and what you might do differently in the future. Fundraising is always a learning experience and even if you didn’t hit your target, you still learned lessons so there is no failure. You might find your social media posts gained traction but your fundraising site needs work to convert better. Don’t forget to take into account your peer to peer fundraising network. 

You can share your results through social media posts to create a feel-good atmosphere and inspire new donors and more donations.

Use your experience to make next year bigger and better!

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