Is #GivingTuesday worth your nonprofit's time?

There is a lot of hype around #GivingTuesday, but is it actually worth your nonprofit’s time? Before you dive head first into pouring already limited resources into the day, take a step back and assess your organization’s fundraising and external communication strategy. Ensure that you have outlined goals and that #GivingTuesday fits with a goal and within the broader strategy. Don’t have one, no worries. We’ll circle back to that later.

Every ask of your stakeholders should be well planned and timed within the broader fundraising strategy. Because of when this giving day falls, you should specifically consider whether your organization is doing a year end appeal and what format that will take.

If you’re not doing a year end appeal:

  • Make #GivingTuesday big. Put resources into sharing stories, sending email blasts, and running a strong social media campaign. Also consider finding a donor to match #GivingTuesday gifts.

If you are doing a year end appeal:

  • What format will it take? Digital? Snail mail? A combination? 

  • Who will receive the ask? Only current donors? Everyone you have an email address for? All of your social media followers?

  •  Make sure that Giving Tuesday doesn’t pull critical fundraising resources from a year-end appeal. If you’re only sending a snail mail year end appeal, doing something digitally for #GivingTuesday could work. If your goal is to pick up small new donors, or leverage the power of social media, #GivingTuesday may still make sense, even in the broader strategy.

Here’s the other thing to consider with Giving Tuesday — Market saturation. Each year, thousands of nonprofits around the world participate in Giving Tuesday. Millions of email blasts go out. Hundreds of thousands of tweets are sent. Because of Facebook’s match, every nonprofit is hosting a Facebook fundraiser (a clever move on Facebook’s part). There is an argument to be made that #GivingTuesday elicits donor fatigue. You may be better off waiting a week or two to reach your audience in the first week or two of December. Your ask will be front and center.

There’s also another way to leverage #GivingTuesday that doesn’t consist of asking for money. Instead, ask your stakeholders to take action. Besides money, what does your organization need most? Volunteers? Email addresses to expand your database? Signatures on an online petition? Consider asking your audience to engage in one of these actions to move them up the ladder of engagement. Tailor your ask by audience. For example,  have social media followers sign up for emails or take part in a petition drive. Ask them to share a story of a client. Send an email to your database asking them to reach out to friends, forward an email, share on social media. The benefit of this approach? You stand out amidst thousands of fundraising asks; you still engage your stakeholders on an important day; and you have the opportunity to get contact information for new potential donors for when you do a larger ask. 

I’m a fan of #GivingTuesday. It’s galvanized our world to give—both people and corporations. But I don’t believe it’s the right fit for every organization. Before you jump on the #GivingTuesday bandwagon, be sure it fits in with your overall communication and fundraising strategy. Every ask you make should be strategic so that you can maximize and best leverage your donors’ resources. Above all, you want your nonprofit to stand out in a noisy and saturated giving world.

For Giving Tuesday’s 2017 Insight Report, click here.