Spice Up Your Fundraising: Creative Giving Tuesday Ideas That Aren’t Cash Gifts

October 2, 2023
4 minutes

It’s right there in the name: Giving Tuesday is all about the giving. While we’re accustomed to asking for ca$h gifts in the form of credit, debit, or payment processor of choice, you can also use this special day to step outside the donation form and encourage supporters to get creative with their giving. Here are some campaign ideas that provide an alternative to one-time cash gifts and pull in a whole new type of first-time donors.

Why go cashless on Giving Tuesday?

And by cashless, we mean cash-less: less cash, more creativity! You can (and maybe should) still ask for cash, but you can also benefit from getting jiggy with your donations. (OMG, we’re so old.)

There are a number of nifty pros to reaching out to potential donors with creative non-cash asks:

  • Stand out from the crowd. Every nonprofit everywhere is asking for a one-time gift that slays on Giving Tuesday. By asking for literally anything else, you’re cutting through all that fundraising campaign noise with something different.
  • Diversify your revenue streams. We’ve written extensively on the many benefits of diversifying your revenue streams, and all those benefits still hold true on big giving days. TL;DR: diverse revenue streams help insulate your organization from the ups, downs, and sideways of our complicated world, building resilience in the long term while increasing your earning potential.
  • Stretch the Giving Tuesday giving. A one-time gift brings you closer to your Giving Tuesday fundraising goal, but the real #endgoal is donor retention. By asking for something other than the classic $25, $100, or $250 gift, you have a prime opportunity to tailor your ask in a way that ups your donor retention rate and builds long-term relationships. Which brings us to …
  • Focus on relationships. As much as we try to personalize our Giving Tuesday communications, it can be hard to really get to know a donor during the biggest giving day of the year—or, for that matter, to have a meaningful discussion with your loyal donors. When you focus on a creative ask instead of a one-off online donation, you can frame donation requests in a way that maximizes donor engagement, putting the relationship first and encouraging ongoing dialogue.
  • It can become A Thing. Whichever non-cash fundraising challenge you choose (or maybe you run them all—that's all you) you can make it an annual event. Become known as The Nonprofit That Gives Back or No Cash-le, No Hassle nonprofit. 

11 alternatives to cash on Giving Tuesday

If you're ready to kick your Giving Tuesday gift program into high gear by trying something different this year, we have all your non-cash fundraising ideas, plus some additional resources, right here.

All eyes on subscriptions

If you haven’t heard it through the grapevine, the average monthly donor gives $656 annually vs. a one-time donor who gives $128. This Giving Tuesday, put the majority of your eggs in the monthly donor basket and focus on increasing your recurring gifts. You can take your recurring giving program to the next level with a GT campaign site that focuses on your subscription program. If you need some inspo before you subscribe to subscriptions, check out our guide to monthly giving programs.

One-up your recurring giving

If monthly donations are better than one-time donations, then the only thing better than recurring gifts is bigger recurring gifts! For those of you who already have a successful subscription program (lucky! But lucky in a you-really-worked-hard-for-that way), take advantage of the Giving Tuesday momentum to increase those monthly gifts. It will pay off big time (#literally) in the year ahead.

Kickstart your subscriber referral program

And subscriptions aren't just about monthly donations! You can try a subscriber referral program, which is a model that incentivizes existing subscribers to get someone else to subscribe to you, dear nonprofiteer. Maybe you want names for your email list; maybe you want followers for your social media accounts. Whatever the ask, you’re focusing on long-term growth over short-term gains. And on a day when everyone everywhere is asking their network for more moolah, you can call in a Giving Tuesday favor that doesn’t require anyone to break the bank.

Highlight Small Business Saturday

While Black Friday is all about mass consumption, we love us some Small Business Saturday, when we can tell ourselves that buying a variety of delightful tchotkes is all about supporting the community. And Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to partner with a local business, allowing you to grow your network and make progress toward your fundraising goal, all while encouraging folks to buy local. Perhaps you can get a cut of the profits for a signature ice cream or beer? We’d go with coffee with peanut butter and toffee bits … for both. It’s Giving Tuesday; go bold!

Try a peer-to-peer fundraiser

Giving Tuesday is the perfect time for a large-scale peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, at a time when everyone is ready to be generous. While P2P is a natural fit for an all-hands-on-deck online fundraising campaign, consider focusing on the number of first-time donors in addition to filling that fundraising thermometer. It's a prime opportunity to lean on your dedicated supporters while you pack those social media channels with personal stories and impact statistics to woo a larger audience.]

Ask for a social media share

With everyone tuned to every social channel these days, social media posts are a totally legit way to spread the word about your nonprofit. And if you're not asking for money on Giving Tuesday, but simply asking for a small little share, you may find your social media post strategy going viral. 

And then there are the influencers! So many times, social media influencers and their agencies put a premium (aka $$) on the value of their social media posts. When they donate a post, you can bet you're looking at a more successful campaign than you bargained for.

Lean into DAFs

Donor-advised funds, or DAFs, bring up complicated feels in the nonprofitsphere, but the fact is they’re growing in number and might. Rather than fighting the tide, go with the motion of the ocean and court those accounts, asking donors with DAFs to pledge to support your nonprofit this Giving Tuesday. The money’s already there, so you’ve just gotta get your name on the guest list. For a sweet start to the year-end giving season, ask DAF donors to distribute those Giving Tuesday funds before the new year.

See where crypto takes you

While we’re talking about DAFs, recall that donors can contribute cash or other assets … and those other assets include cryptocurrencies. While it sometimes feels like the only consistent part of crypto is its inconsistency, more and more nonprofits are investing in online donation methods that normalize crypto giving. When all eyes are on you this Giving Tuesday, why not take a leap and meet the next generation of donors where they want to donate?

Stock up on stocks and securities

A simple twist that can lead to big returns: asking for stock instead of dollars. In the US, an impressive 93% of wealth is held in non-cash assets (US Census Bureau). As a result, stock donations are likely to be much larger than cash ones, and donors with stock are more likely to be major donors. Raise more funds and shine bright in a crowded inbox this Giving Tuesday by asking donors to pledge stock donations, and don’t forget to remind them about all those excellent tax benefits. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! One more note: be sure to have a plan in place to follow up in the weeks ahead so you can collect on your savvy fundraising efforts.

Try a giveaway

Everyone’s asking on Giving Tuesday, but perhaps this year, you’re doing some giving instead. Get your hands on a nifty prize or put together an on-theme experience, then provide an incentive for donors to give back. Perhaps every new donor gets an invite to your community picnic, or each new newsletter subscriber gets a raffle ticket for a grand prize. Sure, your generous donors are in it for the joy of giving, but we all like a treat now and then, amirite?

Build in estate planning

Giving Tuesday is a celebration of the power of giving, and estate planning is one of the highest-impact ways to give back. As such, Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to focus your donation requests on estate planning, reminding your donor base that Giving Tuesday is just one day but a better world is forever. A reminder: keep the tone positive and mission-focused!

Think time, not dollars

Challenge the notion that Giving Tuesday is all about cash donations by focusing your gift campaign on the gift of time. Mark your fundraising progress based on how many new volunteers you've recruited to your cause rather than how many names you've added to your donor list. In the New Year, your colleagues will thank you!

Giving Tuesday is the time to see and be seen for nonprofits everywhere, but that can make the scene a little over-stuffed. This year, step away from the classic donation drive and ask your donors to buy into something different. It'll pay off in the long term.

Giving Tuesday cash alternatives: Key takeaways

  • Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to get creative with your fundraising initiatives, moving beyond traditional one-time cash donations to unique campaign ideas.
  • There are many benefits to alternatives to cash donations, including standing out from the crowd, diversifying revenue streams, and focusing on donor retention and relationships.
  • To maximize your Giving Tuesday efforts, consider alternatives to one-time cash donations, such as subscriptions, peer-to-peer campaigns, social media campaigns, and donor-advised funds (DAFs).
  • Additionally, you can pursue additional donations through newer avenues, like cryptocurrency and stock donations, to tap into a broader donor base.
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