The #Giving Tuesday Fundraising Campaign: How to Ensure Success

#GivingTuesday’s 4th annual campaign this December 1, 2015, was created by 92 Y and the United Nations Foundation in 2012. Online donations have increased substantially from year to year. Last year’s donations were estimated at $45.7 million.

The campaign is a way for nonprofits to join over 30,000 participating organizations, foundations and corporations in catapulting charitable fundraising and charitable awareness. Through the online exposure of Giving Tuesday, nonprofits can draw attention to their own mission and campaigns while raising money.

Nonprofits have done everything from flash dances, water dunks[i], bake-a-thons, and family and friend donation challenges as part of their outreach. So what are some of the best strategies for #GivingTuesday?

Web-driven Messaging
Giving Tuesday is social media driven, and an increasing number of people donate online. Tailoring your message to this audience is crucial. Hashtagging alone will not bring in donations, therefore messaging needs to be about concrete actions and ways to drive people to support your cause.

Planning ahead[ii] and developing messages that work in different mediums is key. Think about what you want to say via video, social media, email, text and your website. A coordinated campaign across these media will increase traffic to your donation page, so make sure that page is attractive, branded and clear.

In addition to message development for multiple distribution channels and planning, here are other ways to ensure success:

  • Get organized early: develop a time-line, schedule your content and determine who will implement your campaign.
  • Run a complementary campaign or a year-end campaign[iii] alongside Giving Tuesday, e.g. mention winter meals or sweaters needed in January or your current campaign goal of raising money to send a child to school.
  • Use relevant hashtags and/or creative hashtags to connect to your organization and campaign.
  • Video: kickoff the Giving Tuesday campaign, summarize your mission or thank donors by using your videos as part of your content to share online.
  • Make your website and donation pages scalable and accessible on mobile and tablets.
  • Donation Page: create a new donation page, or update your page for Giving Tuesday—keep the style consistent with your image and use your logo. Make it easy to navigate and reiterate your campaign cause and goals, and explain with visuals how the donors’ gift helps. Care’s donation page is attractive with its bright colors and images and allows donors to easily enter an amount they would like to contribute.

Social Media Success
The #GivingTuesday campaign hashtag connects your organization to the global movement, meaning great exposure. Since many organizations participate, joining in local campaigns or running your own creative campaign hashtag in conjunction will target your message further and help your nonprofit stand out. Connect your nonprofit to the state and city level movements like #ILgive or #DCgivesmore. Last year the number of tweets with #GivingTuesday was 754,600.

Another popular component of the campaign is the #unselfie hashtag, which was a clever play off the popularity of the “#selfie” social media trend, and appealed to millennial and other social media savvy donors. Last year on Instagram, there were 7,500 #unselfie and #GivingTuesday posts. The Michael J. Fox Foundation found success by sharing their donors’ #unselfie photos on Instagram and other social media. They raised $348,201 and had a donor give a $100,000 match last year. Here are some images from #unselfie.

Tangible Goals & Multiple Gift Options
Setting tangible goals[iv] is a great contribution motivator—donors like knowing exactly how their gifts are used, and can share the experience with others. Make your goal[v] and share progress over the course of the campaign.

World Bicycle Relief’s 2014 goal was to sponsor 500 bikes for African students. They surpassed their goal, raising enough funds for 754 bikes. Another great tangible goal setter is Heifer International. They use interactive donation pages with colorful visuals and graphics, and show potential donors gift options. For example, you can choose to put your money towards a chicken or a rabbit, and learn more about how each will help.

Donors may want to contribute, but may not be able or may not want to give monetary gifts. Having other gift options[vi] available will still help your cause and involve donors by making them more likely to contribute to your nonprofit’s causes in the future. For example, Phoenix house encouraged donors to share their time and write a letter to those in recovery. If your organization offers objects and supplies to those in need like food, clothing, bikes, etc., consider having a drive or asking donors to give a particular item, or to volunteer their time.

Incorporate video as a means to launch your Giving Tuesday campaign, support your mission and thank donors. Have a story to tell and try narrating from a different perspective, like the donors or stakeholders themselves. Use video to establish a greater emotional connection by showing the people involved in your cause.

  • Boston Hospital used one of their beneficiaries to help announce their Giving Tuesday campaign.
  • Rotary International used giving Tuesday as a time to thank donors and showcase how their contributions have helped reach the organization’s goals, instead of just focusing on content that asked for donations.
  • Food for the Poor put the spotlight on the donors and asked them what giving meant.

Donor Appreciation
Thanking donors[vii] and recognizing their contributions, like Habitat for Humanity’s 2014 campaign did with their website, makes donors feel appreciated and more involved in your nonprofit’s fundraising cause. Habitat used a side bar that showed their top donors and team contributions.

Video can be an excellent medium through which to thank donors. Partners Relief and Development created a great compilation video to show their appreciation.

What to Avoid in Your Next Campaign

  • Not using mobile[viii]: mobile donations are increasing, so make use of this growing donor preference. Check out how Africare uses Text2Give to accept donations via texting that charges phone providers.
  • Lack of visibility[ix]: avoid text, colors and format that are difficult to read and low in contrast. Make fonts and forms large and clear, and use colors for variation and interest.
  • Making it just too hard[x]: user profiles and logins, multiple forms or long forms and questionnaires make donating painful. Keep donation forms simple, avoid logins and don’t require too much personal information upfront—that’s what follow-up questionnaires do to learn more about your donors.
  • Bombarding your donors: Giving Tuesday is a large social media campaign and it is likely other organizations will be participating and contacting your same donors—don’t overdo your campaign outreach. Instead limit the amount of messages you send out, and make them succinct. Also, don’t just ask for money. Vary your content or consider asking for non-monetary contributions.
  • Asking for contributions only on Giving Tuesday[xi]: use Giving Tuesday as part of a larger end of the year, or year round giving campaign that can continue past Dec. 1st. Participate in other giving days like #GiveLocal[xii]. Use Giving Tuesday to gain momentum for your goals, not as your only fundraising campaign.
  • Not thanking donors: it is a big deal for someone to choose to donate to an organization; they want to feel like they have helped a good cause and that their help was appreciated. Thank donors via your website, personal letters and emails, or through social media or videos. This helps increase donor retention for future causes, too.
  • Disregarding corporate partnerships: some of the largest amounts of funds raised were because of donation and gift matching from corporations[xiii] and foundations. Look for partnerships and promote these partnerships in your campaign to encourage others to help you reach joint goals while tapping into a new network as well. Cross-promoting online will help both parties involved.

[i] 29 Ideas for #GivingTuesday 2015 you haven’t thought of; #8:

[ii]Planning Ahead for a Successful Fundraising Event Like #GivingTuesday:

[iii] 6 Tips to Maximize Your #GivingTuesday Campaign; #3 Integrate Your Larger Narrative:

[iv] 29 Ideas for #Givingtuesday 2015 you haven’t thought of; #25:

[v] 6 Tips to Maximize Your #GivingTuesday Campaign; #1 Clear Goals:

[vi] 12 Ways to Amplify Your Giving Tuesday Campaign; #11 Ask for non-monetary contributions:

[vii] Best Practices for #GivingTuesday; #10 Make Supporters the Stars:

[viii] 7 Most Costly Sins of Donation Forms; #1 No mobile experience for donation forms:

[ix] 7 Most Costly Sins of Donation Forms; #2 Disregard for the visually impaired:

[x] 7 Most Costly Sins of Donation Forms; # 3 Too many donation form fields:

[xi] 3 Ways to Avoid a #GivingTuesday Hangover:

[xii] Planning Ahead for a Successful Fundraising Event Like #GivingTuesday:

[xiii] 29 Ideas for #Givingtuesday 2015 you haven’t thought of; #28: