Plan Now for a Successful ‘Giving Tuesday’ Campaign

A hand writing a donation check.

For many families across the country, Thanksgiving week includes a new tradition. Less than a week after sitting down with loved ones to express their gratitude, people are heading online to donate to their favorite organizations via a daylong fundraising event known as Giving Tuesday.

Although Giving Tuesday is relatively new, organizations have long experienced a bump in donations around the holiday season. Reports suggest that about 30% to 60% of online giving comes in the last quarter of the year, says Danielle Johnson Vermenton, principal consultant at Blackbaud, Inc., one of the campaign’s founding partners. Participating in Giving Tuesday can harness this spike in generosity without detracting from other end-of-the-year fundraising campaigns, she adds, as long as agencies approach the day with proper planning and promotion.

“Giving Tuesday can be an independent fundraising occasion, and as with any special event, it takes time to plan for success,” Johnson Vermenton says.

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The Early Bird Gets Results

Johnson Vermenton recommends starting now to plan your financial goals for Giving Tuesday and the logistics needed to make the campaign a success. This can involve meeting with your website vendor to plan site updates, cleaning up and segmenting email lists, or assigning specific roles to staff. Johnson Vermenton also says the summer is a good time to approach potential supporters, including board members who can promote the organization and community partners who can provide a gift to “challenge” other potential donors to do the same.

Northwest Youth Services, a runaway and homeless youth service provider based in Washington, experienced the need for advanced planning firsthand. The agency joined a locally coordinated Giving Tuesday campaign in 2015, but didn’t have time to do much beyond posting to their Facebook page, according to Community Relations Coordinator Heather McGuinness. The results weren’t strong enough to make a significant impact to the program, she says, leading the agency to take a more strategic approach to Giving Tuesday for 2016.

“This year, we are thinking about using our email list, advance posts on Facebook, and some other social media platforms like Twitter,” McGuinness says.

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Make it Personal

Johnson Vermenton says that another key strategy for a successful Giving Tuesday campaign is connecting with donors, volunteers, and prospective donors before asking them to give.

“If in the three to five months before Giving Tuesday, no one has heard from your organization and then the next communication is a request for funds, your Giving Tuesday campaign will fall flat,” she says. “Failure to communicate with your supporters fails your campaign.”

Johnson Vermenton recommends collecting stories and information about the families and children served by an organization in order to share stories on social media and other communication channels in the weeks leading up to November. She also encourages organizations to take creative approaches to distance themselves from other “noise” of the day, so their campaign can stand out from the pack.

For their part, Northwest Youth Services is starting to look at free Giving Tuesday resources online to see how they can customize them to their fundraising needs and audience. According to McGuinness, “We will be more strategic this year and think about different ways to plan, in advance, to reach our community.”

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