Tuesday, November 29 is #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving that follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the “kickoffs” to the holiday season. Since its inception in 2012 by the United Nations Foundation and the 92nd Street Y, it has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for charities around the world. As such, an increasing number of nonprofits are creating their #GivingTuesday campaigns. In fact, last year 700,000 people donated $116,000,000 in 70 countries. Wow. So, participating in a #GivingTuesday is a sure-fire way to increase fundraising, right?

Maybe. Consider this. Over 40,000 organizations participated in the campaign last year, there were 1.3MM tweets, and I don’t even know how many emails. These numbers clearly demonstrate incredible consciousness raising for giving, not just purchasing during the holiday season. But they also reveal challenges for any individual organization trying to break through the campaign noise to generate any real funds. So what can you do to ensure your organization gets the most out of the time and effort you put into your #GivingTuesday campaign?

Here are three recommendations on how to have a clear and actionable #GivingTuesday campaign.

Set clear and specific goals to better guide actions

At Compass(x), we like to break goals down into the two most critical components.

  • How many people need to take action and
  • What do they need to do

For example, if your fundraising goal is $5000, and your average online donation is $10, you need 500 people to make a donation. OK – now we have something to work with. 500 people to give $10. Build your plan to accomplish that. Or, if you want to raise the average donation to $20, now you need 250 to donate more money. So, build your plan to accomplish that. Breaking your goal into components adds the guidance your team needs to get it done.

Articulate why people should give to your organization

On #GivingTuesday, you are “competing” for people’s money and attention. I know that nonprofits don’t like the concept of competition for donations, but consider this: People have a lot of causes they support where they can give their money. They can give to their religious organization, their kids’ schools, environmental organizations, social justice organizations, animal protection organizations, the arts, etc. And even within a specific cause, people have options for which organization they feel best reflects how they want to help. This doesn’t even take into account that they can give less money (or no money) and buy the new iPhone or Star Wars toy as an extra holiday present. So, with all the choices, what is the most relevant reason for your existing donors or potential new donors to give to you?

Integrate #GivingTuesday into your bigger outreach and engagement strategy

Several years ago, I wrote a post about Groupon, and how many small businesses were frustrated at the poor net results they got from it. They moved forward with the idea that “we’ll do a Groupon,” was the strategy. But with nothing to support it or extend it, it failed. #GivingTuesday has a similar risk. But used well, it has the potential to engage or re-engage donors, attract new donors, and jumpstart many months of giving. Or it can be a lot of work for very little money. Plan what you will do once you get the attention of donors to keep them excited and engaged.

So what does this mean for you? Does this suggest that you shouldn’t participate in #GivingTuesday? Of course not. But it does suggest that you need more than just a hashtag to be successful with this campaign. Think it through. Make a plan. And break through the noise.

Happy Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday from Compass(x)!


Nancy is the Founder and Chief Strategist of Compass(x) Strategy, a Chicago brand and marketing strategy firm that creates sustainable growth for passionate companies.  Compass(x) Strategy is a Certified B Corporation committed to using business as a force for good. You can connect with her on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn

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