Giving Tuesday & Year-End Fundraising: Is Your Nonprofit Ready?

Online fundraising

Regular contributor and digital strategist Laura Packard (of PowerThru Consulting) is back with us, this time to help folks prepare for Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising. This post first appeared the PowerThru blog, and see also Laura’s recent guide to online fundraising for beginners.

It’s about that time of year…you’ve just about recovered from election madness (even 2015 saw a wave of state-level contests), only to get slammed with year-end fundraising email appeals. Giving Tuesday (which follows in the Thanksgiving Thursday/Black Friday/Cyber Monday sequence) marks the semi-official start of year-end fundraising drives for many nonprofits.

Are you with a campaign and not a nonprofit? You could either steer clear of the date entirely (since there will be a ton of email going out on that day), or see if you can be a part of it. Even campaigns can get in on the act: Giving Tuesday provides an opportunity to give a shout out to your candidate’s favorite nonprofit, and be a part of the giving spirit.

Some of the lessons PowerThru has learned from past Giving Tuesdays:

1. The early bird gets the worm.

With a lot of these type events, many nonprofits are all jumping onto the same boat on the same day. If you wait too long to launch your email/social media, you will find the ship has already sailed off without you. So prep your work ahead of time, and get ready to launch it first thing on Tuesday. (This is much like when a political campaign is working around a major federal deadline — earlier is better).

2. Consider a multi-channel strategy.

Reach out to supporters via email, your website, and social media, the goal being for all these channels to feed on each other and reinforce each other, delivering motivated supporters and potentially reaching brand new supporters too. Be sure to ask your strongest supporters on social media to help amplify your message.

3. Use this as a part of your overall year-end fundraising plan.

Giving Tuesday is only a day in isolation, but it can deliver lasting effects if it serves as the launch of your year-end campaign. So consider other approaches, such as telling a story all month. Don’t just tweet once and forget about it! Giving Tuesday will work more effectively for you as a part of a total month-long plan.

4. Take advantage of all the opportunities out there!

Whoever your CMS vendor is, if they have a heavy nonprofit presence, they may be doing some publicity too. You should participate in every program you’re eligible for, because it can help you reach a larger audience with your message. Have a Google Grant? You could run Giving Tuesday-specific ads. Pay attention to the traffic on social media that day and participate in it (hashtags, anyone?). Check out the official Giving Tuesday website (open to 501c(3)s) for some ideas to get started. Check out the Salsa blog and NationBuilder’s tips for more ideas too.

5. Set goals.

Goals are motivational to your supporters, and also they let you keep track of what is successful and what is not. Next year you’ll have a benchmark to compare, if you repeat your efforts.

6. You must ask.

As with all fundraising, you must be direct and ask people to give. You can’t assume people will realize you need funds without you directly asking for them. Also be sure to make the case for the work that you do, and why people should give their donation to YOU. There will be a lot of competition on Giving Tuesday, so you are not asking in a vacuum. You must put forth your strongest case in order to succeed. Also be smart about how much you ask for, which your CMS may be able to help with.

How to get started with online fundraising, more online fundraising best practices and principles from PowerThru, and some of our research on year end fundraising best practices for nonprofits.

Need help getting started on GivingTuesday or for your organization’s year-end fundraising drive? Contact PowerThru today!

Thanks Laura! If Laura’s booked up, I’m also happy to talk about Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising. I was lucky enough to get to do some great year-end work for PetSmart Charities and the Center for Science in the Public Interest in 2014, and I’m eager to share that experience with other worthy organizations.

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Laura Packard
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