Funding Change Consulting Blog Advice

A New Approach to Giving Tuesday: Be different and stand out from the crowd

What happens if you flip Giving Tuesday on its head?

As much as I love the idea of an entire day dedicated to donating to nonprofits, I’ve always had mixed feelings about Giving Tuesday…

It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on non-profit organizations at a time when your efforts would arguably be better spent focused on your year-end campaign…It’s often money you would have raised anyway at year-end so there’s not much value added…It’s easy to lose the focus on your mission and why people want to give…And it can be overwhelming to your supporters given how many emails arrive that day.

But despite my complaints, Giving Tuesday is clearly not going away anytime soon…so how do you make the most of it?

Start by asking yourself—do you have the resources to run a real Giving Tuesday campaign?

And by “real campaign,” I mean a campaign with most, if not all, of the following components…

  • A multichannel fundraising effort with a strategy and a financial goal
  • A communications schedule that extends over the course of at least one week, ideally more, including several contacts on Giving Tuesday itself pitching your campaign and updating people on your progress to goal
  • Seamless integration into your other year-end fundraising activities
  • Engagement of your full staff and board (or at least a critical mass of each)
  • Branded campaign materials
  • Segmented lists of supporters and/or prospects for email, mail, and phone outreach
  • A “Save the Date” email sent at least one week prior
  • A postcard about the campaign sent by postal mail
  • A dedicated online donation page specifically for Giving Tuesday
  • A script for phone calls and sample emails for you as well as the staff and board to spread the word to their contacts
  • Follow-up communications the day after reporting your results
  • Timely “thank you’s” to all who supported the campaign

It’s a lot, no?

Most of the organizations I work with do not have the resources to prioritize Giving Tuesday on this level. In fact, lots non-profits do not. And that’s nothing to feel bad about.

But then, what do you do?

Ignore it altogether, and you’ll get at least one phone call from an irritated board member asking why they’re getting emails from other groups but not yours. (Imagine the horror!)

First, let me tell you what you’re not going to do…You’re not going to send one isolated email asking people to donate just so you can satisfy that board member and say you did something for Giving Tuesday.

You’re not going to do that, right? Right?? I didn’t think so…

Here’s what you are going to do—flip Giving Tuesday on its head!

Instead of thinking about Giving Tuesday as donors giving to you, think about it as you giving to your donors.

Use it as an opportunity to give back, to say thank you, to shower your supporters with love and appreciation.

I guarantee you, you’ll be one of the only organizations doing that. And that’s how you get noticed during times of heavy, mass communications…you do something different.

You can even send it in advance of Giving Tuesday, perhaps the day or evening before, with a note about wanting to reach them before their inbox is overrun by solicitations.

Then, if you really want to, you could send it again Tuesday ICYMI.

Either way, if you’ve only got the capacity to do one simple communication, don’t waste it asking for donations. You’ll get much more long-term mileage out of giving something back to your donors for all they do for you.

For inspiration, here are some alternative ways my clients (both past and present) have marked Giving Tuesday…

So tell me, what are your plans?



Tina Cincotti, owner of Funding Change, is a donor communications expert and general nonprofit nerd.
October 9, 2018

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