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How Does Giving Tuesday Work?

Connor Nolan

By now, you’ve probably heard of Giving Tuesday. When a single event generates over $380 million dollars in one year, it gains quite a reputation. But, if you’ve never participated in the 24-hour celebration, you might be wondering, “how does Giving Tuesday work?

There are a lot of misconceptions about how nonprofits can get involved with Giving Tuesday, and how they can stand to benefit. Is it worth all of the required preparation? Will smaller nonprofits be blown out by the larger, more tech-savvy ones? Essentially, what’s the catch?

In this post, we’ll break down four common misconceptions about Giving Tuesday. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is Giving Tuesday?

#GivingTuesday began at 92nd Street Y, a community and cultural center in New York City. Their goal was to create a day that encourages charitable generosity to counteract the consumer rush of Black Friday. 

To say that they reached their goal would be an understatement. Since 2012, #GivingTuesday has spread to over 150 countries. Since 2012, it’s generated over $1 billion dollars in the US alone

This year’s event falls on December 3rd. If you’re new to Giving Tuesday, check out these myths and the real facts behind them to make sure you have the full scoop.

Myth #1: You can receive donations through the Giving Tuesday website.

Fact: All Giving Tuesday participants are responsible for their own fundraising initiatives. That means #GivingTuesday cannot collect or distribute donations on your behalf. 

You see, Giving Tuesday is a movement meant to energize your supporters and promote generosity. They don’t solicit donations — they inspire people to give. In order to accept online donations during Giving Tuesday, your organization needs to have a donation page up and ready to go. 

If possible, we recommend creating a custom donation page that highlights the event and explains what the proceeds from your campaign will benefit. Studies show that using campaign-specific messaging on a donation page can increase revenue by 420%. 

Myth #2: It costs money to participate in Giving Tuesday

Fact: There is no cost associated with participating in Giving Tuesday. That’s right, joining the movement is completely free

Giving Tuesday is an event by nonprofits, for nonprofits. All the dollars you raise through your campaign belong completely to your organization. No hidden fees, no surprises, no “catch.”

The only costs associated with the event will be whatever it typically costs your organization to promote and run a campaign. If you’re not sure how much that is, look to your historical data to form an estimate. 

Consider your average spend on tasks like outreach, donation page set up, and receipting. If costs seem to be adding up, it might be time to look into an all-in-one solution

Myth #3: #GivingTuesday will promote your fundraiser on your behalf

Fact: As we said earlier, #GivingTuesday is a movement; They won’t provide you with any advertising or promotional services. However, what they will provide you with is an entire suite of resources that your organization can use freely to promote your services. 

These tools are crucial to building up your engagement and fundraising efforts before, during, and after the event. They allow you to take your promotion into your own hands, while still benefiting from all the excitement generated by the event.

Apart from utilizing the available tools, participation is one of the best ways to boost brand awareness for your organization. Last year, Giving Tuesday campaigns generated over 14.2 billion social media impressions. 

Remember, your constituent’s participation may take the form of a donation, or it may reveal itself in a Twitter mention or share of your Instagram story. Use the hashtag “#GivingTuesday,” to expand your reach and capitalize on this opportunity. 

Myth #4: “Giving Tuesday is a game-changer for nonprofits”/”Giving Tuesday won’t help my nonprofit at all” 

Fact: You’ve probably seen a lot of “all-or-nothing” opinion pieces of Giving Tuesday. The truth is, Giving Tuesday is neither of these things. Like any campaign you might run, it’s what you and your team make of it. 

We can’t give you an exact estimate on what kind of return you’ll see from your Giving Tuesday campaign. That all depends on your campaign strategy. 

What will tell you is, with the proper planning, Giving Tuesday has the potential to be a game-changer for your nonprofit. If you want to see big spikes in donations, you need to develop a campaign that inspires your constituents to give. 

We recommend that you start small, and work your way up to bigger and better plans once you’ve tested the waters. Even bare minimum participation can increase your organization’s brand exposure.


Giving Tuesday can be your organization’s time to shine. Go into it with a solid strategy and clear expectations, and we think you’ll find it to be a worthwhile endeavor for your nonprofit. 

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