How to Leverage #GivingTuesday to Boost Holiday Donations

Thanks to Irene Lewis from Software Advice for sharing this with us.

givingtuesdayIf you’re a fundraiser looking to increase donations to your nonprofit organization over the holidays, #GivingTuesday, a crowdsourced grassroots movement spurred by social media, can be an extremely valuable asset to your campaign.

A counterweight to shopping-driven promotions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a national day of giving held on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

The movement was hatched in summer 2012 by Henry Timms, interim CEO of the 92nd Street Y, the New York-based nonprofit community and cultural center. Developed with key assistance from the United Nations Foundation and other major influencers in the philanthropy world, #GivingTuesday wasted little time getting off the ground.

According to Asha Curran, the director of 92Y’s Center for Innovation & Social Impact and a project lead from day one, the initial goal was to have 100 partners on board by the first #GivingTuesday, which took place on November 27, 2012—just 90 days after the initial idea was formed.

By that date, however, 2500 partners had signed on from all 50 states. As of November 20th this year, 6000 partners have signed up for the second #GivingTuesday, which will take place on December 3, 2013.

#GivingTuesday partners include charities, corporations and consumer brands alike, such as Microsoft, Unilever, JCPenney, the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross and the United Way. The movement has already gone global, with initiatives in Canada, Australia, Mexico, Latin America and Singapore, to name a few.

Nonprofits that partner with #GivingTuesday can reap significant rewards. Blackbaud processed over $10 million in donations on the first #GivingTuesday—a 53 percent increase over the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in 2011—while DonorPerfect reported a 46 percent increase in donations between the same dates. With December already of such crucial importance in annual donations, this is a potential revenue booster that shouldn’t be ignored.

Although this year’s #GivingTuesday is almost here, getting involved is quicker and easier than you might think, and it costs nothing to join. Here are some strategic tips to help your organization get the most out of this unique fundraising opportunity.

Incorporate Fundraising Playbook Best Practices 

“Knowing what you want to get out of #GivingTuesday is one of the absolute first things you need to do,” says Curran. Establish what your organization’s mission is, what your donation goal is, which donors you’re looking to raise money from (new or existing) and if you’re trying to increase your brand and social media profile as well. You also need to determine how your #GivingTuesday efforts will align with your organization’s existing end-of-year campaign.

Once these goals have been established, Rachel Hutchisson, Blackbaud’s director of corporate citizenship and philanthropy, recommends using the following four-step strategy from the playbook developed by the San Diego Zoo’s Global Wildlife Conservancy:

Capitalize on social media trends. Social media is at the very core of the movement. Use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to put up regular #GivingTuesday-related posts to raise awareness (countdowns to Giving Day, any special events you’re holding, etc.).

One popular fad started by #GivingTuesday is the #unselfie, where users post a picture of themselves with a handwritten sign supporting a cause or telling a story about it. The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research makes tremendous use of #unselfies on social media featuring people with family members who live with Parkinson’s and bringing greater awareness to the organization’s mission.

Take advantage of your organization’s website. Add a dedicated #GivingTuesday section to your site with special donor opportunities tailored to your cause (include small-dollar gifts to encourage individual and first-time donors). Many organizations tweak the main #GivingTuesday logo to incorporate their own organization branding, and feature this on their site as well.

Use direct mail. The San Diego zoo is placing a #GivingTuesday sticker on the back of a Thanksgiving card that will be sent to regular donors as a follow-up to an event held earlier in the month. This is an extremely easy and memorable way to alert people to your cause.

Conduct day-of on-site promotion. Calling it “thanking the troops,” the zoo has printed up 5000 stickers, which are customized adaptations of the #GivingTuesday logo, to distribute on Giving Day. Fifteen hundred will go to staffers, 1200 to volunteers and the remainder to every visitor who comes through the gates.

Utilize Resources on the #GivingTuesday Website

The #GivingTuesday website is a valuable resource that can help you get things off the ground. It supplies tools to help your organization promote your campaign and get the exposure you need to make it a success. Call it open-source philanthropy: you can find the source code, so to speak, right on the website in the form of toolkits, templates, badges and logos.

The comprehensive Logos and Toolkits section, for example, features a Giving Day playbook with planning and day-of logistics tips. There’s also a “Social Media Ambassador” toolkit with best practices and sample Facebook posts, Tweets, images and banners you can use across your organization’s social channels.

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