#GivingTuesday: have you decided?

From NonProfitPRO / By Laurence Pagnoni

Just weeks away, #GivingTuesday will take place on Tuesday December 1. This day of global giving has grown into an impressive movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity. The average online gift is $111.

It may be an opportunity for you to leverage your community giving, but you will have to decide if it’s worth your attention.

Many nonprofits are incorporating #GivingTuesday into their year-end drive, but this year-end giving will be different than years before, and I explain why here.

As you think about whether to focus on this particular giving day or not, here are a few unique aspects of #GivingTuesday for your consideration:

#GivingTuesday has cause-based coalitions that you can join. Examples include #iGiveCatholic, and if you accept cryptocurrencies, #CryptoGivingTuesday and #BitcoinTuesday. The point is that you can join an existing campaign related to your mission and enjoy that support and expansiveness.

#GivingTuesday has a special resource for young people. Learn about it here. Led by a squad of young do-gooders ages 6 to 21 from all over the world, #GivingTuesdaySpark is all about encouraging young people to take action around the causes they care about most.

#GivingTuesday has a toolkit chockfull of amazing resources like logos that you can use. You can see it here.

Your Decision
Making a choice to skip #GivingTuesday, especially if you have other parts of your year-end giving program designed and ready to launch and most especially if your social media platforms are not what they could be, should be considered.

Is #GivingTuesday right for you? That all depends on your circumstances.

Should You Pass?
Like I’ve said before, I am a fan of #GivingTuesday within its proper use.

Charities raised an estimated $511 million online on #GivingTuesday in 2019, up from $380 million on that day the year before. This year, the #GivingTuesday Data Collaborative, a group of more than 60 partners, also estimated offline giving using a new statistical model, bringing this year’s total estimate to $1.97 billion.

Yet the preponderance of the funds went to very large nonprofits with robust social media programs. I mean VERY large nonprofits, the very top 5% of the sector!

Albeit five years ago, a 2015 national survey by the John Templeton Foundation, 93% of consumers said they were familiar with Black Friday, while only 18% were familiar with #GivingTuesday. Further, online searches using #GivingTuesday as the keywords are also disproportionately low, according to Google Trends data that indicates search volume. However, between August and September, search for “GivingTuesday” was up 80% year-over-year, partially due to the #GivingTuesdayNow push designed to raise more revenue during the pandemic on May 5.

Here are a few cautions:

  • In a crowded field, your message may be overlooked. Every other nonprofit, large and small, is going to be sending messages that day. How sure are you that your email or social media campaign is going to be able to cut through the clutter? If you have high recognition among your donors, then that will work in your favor.
  • Social media is an important but minor fundraising method. It’s impersonal and fast, and the average gifts range from $40 to $111, depending on which data source you choose. Social media is best for cultivating interest in your mission, driving the reader to go to your website, and then asking them to share their email with you so that you can build a deeper ongoing relationship with them.
  • One-time gifts take your donors out of their normal giving pattern. A donor is not someone who gives once, it is someone who gives repeatedly at increased levels. When you ask for a one-off gift, you’re asking out of context of their past giving. It makes no sense to receive a $100 gift if that donor’s last gift was $250.
  • Will this raise the most funds? What if you spent the same amount of time on major donor calls or doing end-of-year donor meetings? Let’s say you spend 10 hours on #GivingTuesday. Do you think you would have raised more, or less, if you had spent those the same time meeting with your top donors or calling your most engaged givers?

If you already have a strong year-end fundraising program designed and your social media presence is not strong, you may decide to pass.

Should You Participate?
If your largest source of individual giving comes from social media, then #GivingTuesday is definitely for you.

Secondly, if you need a one-day drive to fund a specific goal, #GivingTuesday may be a solid option. Fundraise for your exact need. Do not pitch “We need to raise $25,000 to pay program costs.” Instead, talk about one dog or cat in need; one child and the difference a gift can make in his or her life; one thing — and not more than one.

For example: “We need to raise $16,000 to buy a new rover for our local Garden Conservancy, which will allow our seven gardeners to serve 4,000 visitors” sounds a lot better, right? This goal is impact focused with a definite plan. When you only have 24 hours to make your case for giving, this approach is necessary.

Generally, your #GivingTuesday appeal should go out three times that day, maybe four, at 8 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. with updates about your progress toward your goal.

Third, if your mission or cause appeals broadly, that may justify using #GivingTuesday in your year-end fundraising.

Lastly, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital fundraising is more important than ever before. Larger digital fundraising prep due to the reduction of in-person events means that nonprofits may be more ready to activate their audiences. This may be the time to get on board, but if social media fundraising is new to you, start with a good consultant and a plan to get ready for next year.

If you are committed to launching a #GivingTuesday drive, there’s a complete toolkit that’s chock full of vital content.

Of note, it’s important to register your nonprofit on the #GivingTuesday website.

Still Haven’t Decided?
If you’re undecided, I suggest that you reach out to one or two other local nonprofits and talk it through. Your best approach may be for a small group of you to come together and maximize the size and scope of your #GivingTuesday marketing efforts. Identify a shared specific goal that the public will resonate with.


Laurence Pagnoni is author of “The Nonprofit Fundraising Solution,” the first book on fundraising ever published by the American Management Association. He is Chairman of LAPA Fundraising serving nonprofits throughout the U.S. and Europe.


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