As the number of organizations participating in the post-Thanksgiving charitable holiday swells, it can be harder to get a foothold with donors. Fundraising experts give tips to help you distinguish yourself and make the most of #GivingTuesday.
We’re only a few days out from Giving Tuesday, the annual charitable holiday that’s become a big day in association fundraising. So big, that your members are sure to receive an avalanche of requests for donations ahead of December 3.
“It’s a crowded landscape,” said Natalie Zundel, CFRE, president and founder of Raise Well. “Your members are going to be getting emails from every other nonprofit or association that they’re involved with on Giving Tuesday.”
To stand out, fundraising experts say associations should do a few things.
Determine the Goal
“Your objective could be just raising additional money,” said Laurie De Armond, managing partner and national coleader of BDO’s Nonprofit and Education Practice. “It could be that you are trying to get new donors or increase donations from existing donors.”
After setting a goal, think of creative ways to approach it. Zundel said many groups use “challenge giving,” where they challenge members to reach a specific goal. That could include raising $10,000 for a specific purpose or raising an amount because a sponsor promised to match it.
Zundel said a unique Giving Tuesday campaign she saw involved several engineering societies joining forces, with each group challenging its members to outraise members of the other organizations. “All the societies ended up raising more than they had in any prior year,” Zundel said. “Be collaborative, and don’t be afraid to take a risk and standout.”
Test the Tools
While most of the activity around Giving Tuesday takes place online, what tools associations use to spread the word about their campaign varies. Some organizations will have the best results with Twitter or Facebook, while others will rack up donations via Instagram or email.
“Just test,” Zundel said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. If you fail, that means you’ve figured out one thing that is not going to work.”
She also recommends using a different donation link for emails than social media so you can track which avenue is getting the most donors.
At a previous organization Zundel worked at, email was the most effective platform. “The first year we did [Giving Tuesday], we just did social media, and it didn’t get really big,” she said. “When we went with an email campaign the second year, our results went from a couple thousand dollars to $15,000 in one year.”
When using email, be sure to have a good list. “Get perspective donors, past donors, and good quality emails so you reach your intended audience,” De Armond said.
Take a Three-Part Approach
Zundel suggested thinking of Giving Tuesday as a three-part event: the day before, the day of, and the day after. “In the 24 hours prior, you’re trying not to bombard them too much, but to create a level of excitement and remind them,” she said. “Maybe do an early-release email at 10 o’clock at night for their time zone saying, ‘Hey, get your gift in early, and we’ll count it for Giving Tuesday tomorrow.’”
Then, on Giving Tuesday, you need to have all hands on deck. “Any good Giving Tuesday campaign requires staff members to be constantly monitoring the gifts that are coming in, doing the totals, and adapting the social media,” Zundel said. “You’re going to be needing to report in real time.”
On the day, staff should also highlight and thank donors on social media, interact with members posting, share vignettes, and give updates about how close the organization is to reaching its goal or how much money it has collected.
Once Giving Tuesday is over, spend the next day sending thank-you notes to donors and providing them with giving totals. “Make sure you follow up with them immediately because they responded to you immediately,” Zundel said. “So, close that loop with them. They are more likely to come back and give the next year.”