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4 Ways Your Nonprofit Can Prepare for Giving Tuesday

fundraising nonprofit Nov 12, 2019

If you work with a nonprofit, then it’s that time of year where you start to feel the nervous nibbling anxiety of Giving Tuesday looming on the horizon. You have more questions than answers, which may look like these:

- Will we be ready?

- What if we don’t raise as much money as last year?

- Is it even worth the time and effort?

- What can we do differently this year?

According to, 2018’s Giving Tuesday resulted in 3.6 million gifts and $400 million raised in the United States alone. So the question is not really should we do it, but how can we prepare for it to be successful? My next couple blog posts will examine what your nonprofit can do the day of and after Giving Tuesday. This one will dive into what your organization can do before Giving Tuesday to be intentionally successful.

1. Set a Goal for this Year

This may sound basic, but most nonprofits won’t take the time to see how much money they raised or how many new donors they acquired on last year’s Giving Tuesday. Many will be cavalier about this giving day and just go in full speed with a half-baked plan. By setting a goal (or goals) for Giving Tuesday, you’ll find that your planning will be more intentional, and you automatically increase your chance of success.

At a minimum, take a look at how many gifts, new donors, and amount of revenue your nonprofit acquired last year. Set a goal to increase donations by 20%, new donors by 10%, and overall revenue by 25%. How will you do this? If your average gift last year was $40, create a specific offer for Giving Tuesday that is $50. So instead of asking people to simply “make a gift,” tell donors that a $50 gift will help fund X. On your donation page, start your giving levels at $50, but keep the “Other” giving option available if people want to specify their own gift.

2. Identify Your Marketing Channels

Several marketing channels exist in which your Giving Tuesday campaign can be used to reach donors, which include your nonprofit’s website, email, direct mail, social media sites, SMS messages, search engine marketing, and more. By identifying all the marketing channels available, you’ll get an overalls sense of what assets need to be created and the best way to execute your Giving Tuesday strategy within each of these channels.

If you’re a brand new nonprofit with no email list, then you’d likely focus on social media ads as a primary (but not only) way to market your organization on Giving Tuesday. For more mature organizations, you may send out a “Save the Date” direct mail postcard, as part of a multi-channel integrated campaign.

If you need help identifying marketing channels, I’ve created a Giving Tuesday Planning worksheet that can help you identify and organize your marketing channels. Get the planning worksheet here.

3. Plan Communication and Messaging

Once you’ve identified the marketing channels that you will use for Giving Tuesday, now you need to figure out what the heck to say. Remember, this day will be filled with Giving Tuesday messages from tons of nonprofits, so the key will be to distinguish your messaging from falling into the noise of all the others competing with your same donors for their dollars. To do this, start by answering these following questions:

o Why are we participating in Giving Tuesday?

o What will donations help accomplish or fund?

o Why is our organization unique?

o What quantifiable gift and impact can we communicate (i.e. $XX will help do X)?

o What does our creative need to communicate (images, copy, call-to-action)?

4. Create Assets

After you’ve nailed down what you’re going to communicate, it’s time to get specific on what assets need to be created. This is beyond just saying, “we need to create email, social media posts, and web banners.” I mean really lay out a plan on a whiteboard or blank sheet of paper and identify how many emails, social media posts, text messages, graphic images, search marketing ads, etc you will need.

This needs to be specific as possible. For example, if you’re sending an email the week before Giving Tuesday, one the day before, two on Giving Tuesday, and one follow-up afterward, then this would be 5 emails. What copy, subject lines, and images will accompany those emails? Also, how many social media posts will you create to promote giving Tuesday and what will they say? Write all of this down.

As you can see, these 4 tips don’t cover everything needed to prepare for Giving Tuesday; however, they include instrumental pieces for you to build out your campaign framework. Ideally, you’ll be able to schedule your emails and social media posts in advance through your email service provider and social media aggregates like Buffer or Hootsuite. Giving Tuesday will be a busy day, so as much as you can automate beforehand, the better. My next post will walk you through what to do on Giving Tuesday.

If all this looks like a lot, it is! No worries, I have a Giving Tuesday Planning Workbook that you can download for free that will help out. It includes checklists, schedules, and much more. You can get it here.

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