If you missed out on Giving Tuesday don't worry!

publication date: Dec 2, 2015
author/source: Whitney Brimfield
Whitney Brimfield

Tuesday December 1, 2015 marked the fourth Giving Tuesday in as many years. If your organization didn’t achieve strong engagement, or you just missed the day altogether, don’t worry! Most likely, you were focused on more important efforts like donor stewardship and relationship building.

At first glance, Giving Tuesday, an effort to help nonprofits jump on the consumer bandwagon that surrounds Black Friday and Cyber Monday, seems like a powerful engagement tool for activating online donors, but it is not the best use of most organizations’ precious resources.

Because Giving Tuesday has so many proponents and serves as a successful tool for many communities, great expectations are now placed on nonprofits to engage with the day and build a fundraising strategy around it. After all, the Giving Tuesday “pie” is growing exponentially. The amount of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has increased by an estimated 470%, but the number of organizations participating has increased by 30,000% (from one organization to 30,000). We have created a noisy hashtag that edges out many in favour of larger names like United Way or Red Cross.

At its inception, Giving Tuesday was a creative strategy designed by the 92nd Street Y to activate their donors on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. They had great success, leading them to share the idea with other nonprofits and facilitate broad uptake of what has become a vast social media campaign -- 30,000+ organizations across 68 countries (as of November 20, 2015). In just three years, that is a huge amount of audience gained.

But it is in the vastness that the value was lost. What worked for the 92nd Street Y was getting their existing donors excited about giving when they were already thinking about spending, not promoting new donors. Ultimately, most nonprofits are better off focusing on cultivating strong relationships with their donors over the entire year and creating multi-channel year-end campaigns that are donor-centered and convey the impact the organization has had on its mission over the past 12 months. As my colleague Kyle Pate said recently in his blog post about this same topic, “Your donors do not have an emotional connection to Giving Tuesday.”

So whether you tried a Giving Tuesday strategy that did not work or you missed it altogether, don’t worry. As long as you are focused on driving your followers and donors back to your mission, you will have success in your year-end fundraising.

Remember to focus on these basics:

  •       Cultivate your donors 
  •       Segment your lists and asks based on donors’ past giving
  •       Highlight your impact 
  •       Share stories, pictures, testimonials
  •      Help donors personalize your mission
  •      Build thought leadership among your board and donor pool to create an echo chamber around your mission and impact 
  •      Make asks as personal as possible

As we all know, bandwagons tend to break down over time. Real donor cultivation is tried and true. 

Special thanks to the Creating the Future NPCons Facebook group for their thoughts on this piece.

Whitney has more than 18 years of experience in fundraising, business development, and social enterprise. During her career she has worked in public health, education, health policy, youth development, the environment, and the arts, raising millions of dollars for a variety of causes.Along the way, she's written hundreds of grants, designed highly successful development strategies, coached Boards of Directors and executive leadership to overcome fundraising fears, engaged corporate donors, and built profitable membership programs. She brings a marketing eye to resource development, always thinking about how an organization's communications and messaging must dovetail with its investor outreach. As Spark Point's founder and principal, she leads client engagements, strategic guidance and detail-driven implementation. She is as energized by charting strategic directions and finding solutions as she is by day-to-day program management. She is a sought after strategist and go-to team member.

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