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7 GivingTuesday best practices for nonprofit organizations

October 23, 2020
Three nonprofit professionals smile while brainstorming their GivingTuesday best practices at a shared desk.

The importance of GivingTuesday to nonprofit fundraising cannot be overstated. For some organizations, GivingTuesday donations represent a significant portion of their annual revenue. If you're planning a GivingTuesday campaign this year, it’s critical that you get started early, plan your strategy, and create authentic conversations with your online community.

To help make this your best year yet, we’ve put together a few GivingTuesday best practices from some of the most successful nonprofits in the country. Share them with your team and take part in the biggest giving day of the year!

1. Join the official GivingTuesday movement

The first thing you should do when planning your event is to join the official movement by signing up on the GivingTuesday website. On the official movement website, you can:

  • Connect with your local movement.
  • Learn more about how you can give back to your community. 
  • Sign up for helpful tips delivered via email each week, including communication recommendations, email and social media templates, and media assets you can share to promote your event.

Donors familiar with the movement will browse the GivingTuesday website to find nonprofits to support in their local area. By registering with GivingTuesday and listing your organization’s location, you can leverage the GivingTuesday global network to find new donors to support your purpose.

2. Update your listings on public sites

Prospective supporters who find your organization online will do their research before donating, often through a few popular outlets that list information about nonprofits across the country. This is an opportunity to make a positive first impression on prospective donors, so make sure these sites reflect your organization well! 

Check each of these popular listing sites and update your nonprofit’s information annually before each GivingTuesday: 

By updating your information on these reputable sites, you’ll reassure the public that your organization is trustworthy and increase your chances of getting new donors.

3. Make GivingTuesday a distinct campaign

Whether you host an in-person GivingTuesday event or a fully online campaign, make sure to keep it separate from other fundraising initiatives. To do so, create a dedicated GivingTuesday campaign page and donation form on your nonprofit’s website. 

That way, you can measure and track your metrics for this single event or campaign and compare them to other fundraising campaigns throughout the year. Make it fun by creating a theme for your GivingTuesday campaign and designing the page to match that theme.

4. Start planning for GivingTuesday now!

The earlier you start planning, the better—especially if you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event. Remember to take time to plan your email and social media outreach in advance to effectively reach your target audience and build consistent touchpoints that motivate them to give. 

If possible, we recommend starting six weeks ahead of time and alternating email and social media messaging. Plan out the details of which types of messages you’ll send, when, and through which communication channel. Consider sending more informational content in the early weeks and ramping up donation appeals towards the end. 

You can follow the schedule in our six-week communication roadmap and use the companion worksheet to create your own roadmap for GivingTuesday.

5. Make GivingTuesday last more than one day

If Black Friday can last more than one day, so can GivingTuesday. If time allows, follow our schedule to promote your campaign well ahead of time and continue to promote it even after the event has ended.

For those members of your existing email list who don’t end up donating in time, send them a few follow-up messages to:

  • Let them know the results of your campaign.
  • Remind them they can still donate via the GivingTuesday donation form.
  • Thank them for being a supporter, even if they don’t donate this time.

Remember, the end of year is a busy time for most people, with several holidays to plan for and lots of time commitments. Some people just can’t make it in time to meet your deadline, and that’s okay! You’ll be surprised how many people will donate after the fact with just a simple reminder message.

6. Share your impact

Framing your appeal with an impact story can raise both the number and amount of donations you receive. When you communicate with your audience around GivingTuesday, share the average gift amount that you received last year or suggest a donation amount tied to a specific impact. Here are a few examples:

  • A $150 donation pays the electric bill for a family of five for a month.
  • $250 provides food and shelter for a housing-insecure family for a week.
  • $75 buys a suit and tie for a low-income senior re-entering the workforce.

Statements like these help your donors visualize the real-life effect of their donations. When they can easily understand the specific ways their contributions help your beneficiaries, they’ll be more likely to give.

7. Mirror social and email outreach

While GivingTuesday is typically a social-media-focused campaign, email is still an important part of your outreach. 

To present a cohesive campaign to your audience, coordinate the content and timing of your email campaigns and social media messages. Plan your messages early, and take advantage of automation tools. Follow the schedule in our GivingTuesday e-Guide where we give you a six-week roadmap for communications along with text for 12 emails and matching social posts.

Then, use these tips to create compelling GivingTuesday content:

  • Actively update your audience on your fundraising progress while reminding supporters to pitch in and spread the word.
  • Use images and real stories from beneficiaries that demonstrate your organization’s impact. 
  • Feature staff members or volunteers in action, and highlight key players making a difference on GivingTuesday.
  • Remember to get permission from anyone featured in your images or videos before posting.

Create your planned messages in a document shared with your team, or use a social media posting tool. Scheduling them ahead of time frees up time to engage with your community and cultivate new donors. 

A final note about GivingTuesday best practices

With these tips, you’re all set to plan a successful GivingTuesday campaign. Start early, plan your messages ahead, automate where possible, and create authentic conversations with your audience. Good luck fundraising this GivingTuesday!

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