Giving Tuesday: Your Most Common Questions Answered

Rachel Clepper

Recently, we brought Kathleen Murphy Toms, GivingTuesday’s Director of Digital Strategy, and Julia Campbell, nonprofit social media expert, to answer crowdsourced questions on what makes a winning Giving Tuesday campaign. If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed:

Prefer to skim? Keep reading for answers to all the most popular questions, including “how do I balance Giving Tuesday with my end-of-year fundraiser?” and “how can my small nonprofit make an impact?”. 

1. We have a fundraising gala just prior to #GivingTuesday and want to avoid donor burnout. Do you have advice on how to handle this appropriately? 

Both Kathleen and Julia agreed, Giving Tuesday doesn’t have to be about fundraising. There are all kinds of ways to inspire your audience without burning them out. 

If you reframe Giving Tuesday as a day of action, rather than simply a day of fundraising, you’ll find that there are many ways to engage your constituents. For example, a lot of organizations use it as a day to focus on donor stewardship efforts.

Think about it — your supporters will be flooded with appeals on December 3rd. Stand out from the crowd by extending a sincere thank you rather than an ask. Some organizations, like Neon nonprofit Joy Ranch, even show their appreciation by inviting donors to their facility for games and snacks.

However, if you do decide to send out fundraising appeals, Julia recommends using email segmentation to make sure you’re not exhausting recent donors. Simply decide on who you need to target separately, figure out their messaging needs, and craft different appeals to suit each audience. 

2. How can my organization do Giving Tuesday and our end-of-year fundraiser? 

This is one of the most popular questions we received before and during the presentation. According to Kathleen, it’s the number one question the team at GivingTuesday gets every year, so she had a pretty great answer ready. 

Use your Giving Tuesday campaign to kick-off your end year-end campaign. 

Thinking of Giving Tuesday as a part of your year-end fundraising campaign can open up a new window of opportunities, maximizing your fundraising potential. Doing separate campaigns for both can dilute your message, leaving donors uninspired during the most crucial month of the year. 

3. What are the biggest missteps that you see organizations making every year?

According to Kathleen, the most common mistake the team at GivingTuesday notices is a lack of strategic planning. Organizations can’t simply post a few tweets with a link to their website and expect donations to roll in.

While Giving Tuesday may only be a 24-hour celebration, it should still be used to support your organization’s long-term campaign goals. Instead of relying on one channel alone for your Giving Tuesday promotion, try an omnichannel approach. This will help make sure that your message reaches as many people as possible.

Julia also noted that many organizations don’t promote their Giving Tuesday fundraiser, because they’re worried they might annoy their constituents. The truth is, as long as your emails don’t read as spammy or repetitive, you’ll be fine. As long as your promotion is aligned with your organization’s value proposition and mission, it will resonate.

4. How can smaller nonprofits stand out when large organizations have the scope to create beautiful and multifaceted #GivingTuesday campaigns?

If you work with a smaller nonprofit, don’t measure the success of your Giving Tuesday campaign against what national or international organizations were able to do. Instead, focus your resources on making an impact with your current audience. 

“If it’s the only thing you do, organize a peer-to-peer campaign”

Kathleen Murphy-Toms, Giving Tuesday

Peer-to-peer campaigns are a great way to energize your current audience while tapping into their extended network. Create a simple toolkit for your individual fundraisers, and use that to mobilize your supporters. Remember to invite your board members to participate!

As for polished campaign promotions and design elements, forget those in favor of showcasing real people behind your mission. Lift the veil and share behind the scenes videos of your team constituents. Remember, authenticity beats perfection every time.  

5. What is the most effective way to use social media to reach followers on Giving Tuesday?

One word: videos. 

Social media algorithms favor videos. People are drawn to videos. And don’t think you need to invest thousands of dollars into making a video. Heck, you can even film a video on your volunteer’s iPhone. 

Your donors love your nonprofit because of the work that you do every day to support your cause. Use video content as a way to invite them into your everyday processes. Footage of your staff and volunteers working behind the scenes on events and programs build authenticity and drive personal connections between your audience and your org. 

6. With so many other good causes making appeals on the same day how do you stand out among the crowd?

If you want to stand out on Giving Tuesday, think about the original meaning of the celebration. It didn’t begin as a way for nonprofits to get a quick boost in revenue. It began as a way to create a culture of philanthropy in communities around the world. 

During the presentation, Campbell mentioned that Giving Tuesday has been compared to the nonprofit Hunger Games because many organizations feel that they are racing for access to the same finite amount of money. People will be expecting you to be sending out multiple appeals and reminders. So how do you stand out? Do the unexpected. 

Uplift philanthropy in your community by using Giving Tuesday to fundraise on behalf of another organization, or even multiple organizations. In 2018, HELP International raised funds on behalf of Team Humanity to turn the idea of “competing nonprofits” on its head. People were so impressed by this act of charity, HELP International ended up raising money for both their organization and the organization they promoted. 


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