How to Leverage #GivingTuesday In Your Major Gift Program

The 2017 edition of Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday on Twitter) is here.  Some nonprofits don’t get the hype, but for others the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is the biggest donation day for the whole year.  If you’re not part of the movement, there’s never been a better time to get started!

Not sure what Giving Tuesday is?  Get caught up here.

Last year, donations connected with Giving Tuesday jumped from $117 million in 2015 to over $177 million — that’s a whopping 66% increase!  Combine that with over 2 million social media posts associated with the campaign and we’re talking about a serious social movement.

According to Giving USA, philanthropy is growing year over year.  There is also evidence that donors are looking for new, intriguing ways to donate and get involved in nonprofit causes — especially if it’s all happening online.  When it comes to events like Giving Tuesday, there’s no time like the present (or the 2018 edition coming next November) to join in.

What can you and your organization do now to ensure success with your next Giving Tuesday event?  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Plan ahead

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but — if you’re just thinking of mounting an earth-shattering Giving Tuesday 2017 campaign just as you’re reading this, it may be too late.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t participate at all this year, but your organization likely won’t reach any lofty goals.

But that just means you have more time to plan for next year.  On average, most organizations begin their planning in the spring (late Q1 or early Q2).  As they say in the armed forces, remember the 7 P’s (I’ll let you look that one up yourself).

Active philanthropists will no doubt have heard of Giving Tuesday.  But many members of the public haven’t heard of it at all.  Despite the increasing popularity of Giving Tuesday, it is unfortunately still overshadowed by shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  By planning ahead, you can also develop a communications strategy to target the right donors (and would-be donors) at the right time.

Turn donors and volunteers into “evangelists”

Planning ahead also gives you the opportunity to incorporate an outreach strategy for major gift donors and prospects.  Don’t see Giving Tuesday as a threat to your major gifts program.  Focus instead on leveraging Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to start a conversation, nurture relationships, and better time your next gift ask.

As well as contributing gifts themselves, donors and other stakeholders (like board members and volunteers) could become Giving Tuesday champions for your cause.  Maybe someone connected to your organization has a large Twitter following or a smash-hit YouTube channel.  Within your prospect research tool, maybe you’ve identified your donors are connected to some very influential folks.  It’s time to get these people involved.  Ask them to share your message on their social media channels.  See if you can make your organization go viral.

Create an online giving portal

In the iWave Blog, we haven’t talked much about online giving.  But it really is the way of the future, at least in terms of events like Giving Tuesday.  Imagine: one of your organization’s cheerleaders drives some serious social media traffic to your website encouraging others to give — but your website doesn’t have an online giving portal!  Prospective donors have to call or email just to talk about making a donation.  Like it or not, think of your online giving portal as you would with online shopping.  If it’s not simple, you’re more likely to get frustrated and give up.  Therefore, find a simple pathway for brand new visitors to land on a donation page, enter details without hassle (don’t forget to include a newsletter signup option), and submit.

Take a closer look at your new donors

The work doesn’t (and shouldn’t) end after Giving Tuesday.  If you’ve planned ahead, involved influential donors, and made it easy for people to become donors, then hopefully you’ve had great success.  But now it’s time to take a look at your new donors who contributed small- or medium-sized gifts.  If they donated through your online giving portal, you likely know their names and maybe some contact details.  Now what?  Consider the following options:

  • Thank your new donor for joining the organization.  Share how much you raised during Giving Tuesday, what your goals are, why they matter, and how your donor can get involved in other ways.
  • Ask your donor straight up: Would you like to donate again in the future?
  • Run a PROscreen of donors to identify new major gift prospects
  • Share screening results with board members and fundraisers — do they recognize anyone?
  • Keep all levels of donors up to date with organization news and goals.  Make it clear why your cause matters.  Informed prospects and donors are more likely to donate money, time, or expertise to help your team help the broader community.

What are your plans for Giving Tuesday 2018?

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About the author: Ryan McCarvill joined the iWave team in 2016. Ryan enjoys meeting and learning from nonprofit professionals, researching trends in the nonprofit community, and offering strategies for development teams to use iWave’s solutions to meet and exceed their fundraising goals.

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