Giving Tuesday Best Practices for Nonprofits

October 2, 2023
13 minutes

Not to brag, but Giving Tuesday is kind of a big deal. It's the fundraising campaign to rule them all, the star atop every nonprofit's holiday tree. To help you pull off a beyond-successful campaign, we're pulling out all the stops with an overview of Giving Tuesday best practices. So, pull up a digital chair and join us for a soup-to-nuts (we prefer bread-to-cheese , but whatevs) round-up of campaign ideas, fundraising strategies, and top-secret tips. (Pssst! Speaking of top-secret, scroll down to get our free downloadable Giving Tuesday Best Practices checklist!)

Start-to-finish best practices for Giving Tuesday

Before we do anything else, a quick reminder: your Giving Tuesday begins by setting a clear and ambitious goal. Having a goal gives your work perspective and gives your donors a concrete vision to work toward. Now that you've got that goal, you're ready to kickstart a campaign.

Start off strong

The best campaigns start with a bang and end with one, too. Here are some tips to get your campaign off to a strong start.

1. Get started ASAP. Giving Tuesday can be a lot of work, but sticking to a schedule helps. Create a communications plan and draft your outreach in advance. Then, automate the posting process.

2. Craft a winning story. Cultivating giving is all about creating an emotional connection, and Giving Tuesday is no different. Get those creative juices flowing and make sure storytelling’s at the heart of everything you do, from direct mail to blog posts.

3. Publish a press release. Want to kick things into high gear and connect with the entire community? Publish a press release. They’re still a thing!

4. Prime the pump for more giving by asking your top 10 donors to make their gifts before the big day. Then, shout out their ah-may-zing impact on all your social media accounts with lots of heart emojis.

5. Alternatively, start big by asking one of your major donors to match the first $5k you raise. More money, more impact!

Keep the momentum going

Once you've done the groundwork, you need to keep that momentum going as you get closer to Giving Tuesday.

1. Kick things off with a countdown. One month ahead of time, start getting your donor base excited with teaser emails, countdowns, check-ins, and shout-outs. 

2. If you want a Giving Tuesday with a big reach, launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. You can double or hundred-tuple your donations and do the same for your donor acquisition.

3. Run social media ads. Yes, they cost money, but if you spend $50 on an ad and it converts one $50 donation, you’re already winning.

4. Connect with other local organizations or corporate partners to broaden your network and foster that beautiful community-over-competition spirit.

Go big on the big day

It’s Giving Tuesday, and that means it’s time to go big! Here's how to take full advantage and fulfill your fundraising destiny.

1. All day long, you want to keep your community in the loop with regular updates across channels and platforms to keep them engaged and keep the donations coming.

2. With the basics taken care of, you can take things up a notch. Whenever someone donates, thank them with a personal social shout-out. You'll make them feel appreciated and inspire potential donors to give—because everyone loves to be recognized for doing good.

3. Livestream your progress. Stock up on snacks and keep the sharing (and online donations) going all day long by sharing regular updates, real stories, and charming anecdotes. Use Twitch, Instagram Stories, TikTok Live, YouTube Live, or whatever floats your boat.

4. Try creating a sharing squad by asking your most active, social-savvy supporters to share your message across social media channels. It's #squadgoals time.

Finish with a bang

When the big day draws to a close, your work isn't done. Now, you need to wrap things up and finish with a bang!

1. Say thank you. Giving Tuesday isn't a one-and-done event; it's a spark for a successful year-end giving season and a jumping-off point for new relationships. So, cement those good feelings by following up with your donors (especially first-time donors!) within 24-48 hours.

2. Take things to the next level with a celebratory event. Hey, times are tough, so give the people a moment to party! May we suggest a Thanksgiving leftovers potluck as you shift into the holiday season (AKA the year-end giving season)?

3. Incentivize those final donations with a silly prize. Maybe your CEO will shave their head, or your development director will take a pie to the face? One can only hope!

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Giving Tuesday email best practices

Some donors type STOP within seconds of getting a text from a charity, while others toss any direct mail in the recycling without a second glance. But almost everyone can get behind an email. It's easy, it's readable, and it's effective. So, on Giving Tuesday, your nonprofit organization wants to pull out all the email stops. Here are our top tips for an email strategy that converts.

1. Email everyone. Everyone everywhere should be hearing from you on Giving Tuesday. Reach out to that entire donor database, from one-time donors to long-time volunteers. Then, ping your friends, shout out your neighbors, connect with potential supporters, and maybe say hey to that guy at the coffeeshop.

2. Giving Tuesday is a joyful day, so strike a positive tone. Be enthusiastic, keep things optimistic, and embrace the spirit of the day. On Giving Tuesday itself, add just a sprinkle of urgency!

3. AI is big right now, and on Giving Tuesday, it’s definitely your friend. Funraise’s AppealAI feature helps you write donation appeals that convert; use it as a jumping-off point, then personalize your communications for an email campaign that really stands out.

4. Your Giving Tuesday email strategy: an email series that kicks off with your first save-the-date one month before Giving Tuesday. Officially launch the campaign two weeks later by announcing your fundraising goal. Then, one week before the big day, share any matching gifts, partnerships, incentives, or events.

5. Any day-of emails need to balance urgency with enthusiasm, providing your supporters with regular updates on your fundraising progress and nudging them to meet your goal. 

6. Personalize your outreach as much as possible. If a fundraising request starts with the recipient's name rather than "Dear buddy o' mine," it's much more likely to be opened.

7. Use the email templates in Funraise's 2023 Giving Tuesday toolkit as a jumping-off point for A++ (it's a thing) emails.

8. Once the madness is over, it’s time to give thanks! Send a follow-up email to update everyone on the amount you raised and share an impact story to show how their efforts will get the positive change going.

Giving Tuesday social media best practices

Giving Tuesday is about sharing, caring, sharing, caring, and sharing some more, which makes social media your BFF. Here are our top tips for getting social for Giving Tuesday.

1. Post frequently but don’t overdo it. Start your Giving Tuesday donor outreach on your social accounts a few weeks beforehand. Then, settle in for a day of frequent social posts on GT itself. And don't forget to let everyone know that you've met your fundraising goal (because of course you have!) later.

2. To spread the word, encourage others to give, and up social media engagement, ask your donors to share that they donated across social media channels. You can create a clever social media hashtag to foster a sense of community, building a digital environment that encourages collective impact and urgency. Hurray for social proof!

3. AI is your BFF when it comes to social media posts. You can feed the latest information on your cause and campaign to Funraise's AppealAI content generator, then let it write up posts across all your favorite social media platforms.

4. On Giving Tuesday, make sure each and every social media post has a clear and visible call to action. The most important part of every post from now until the end of the campaign is a donation link or direct link to your campaign website. Don't forget it!

5. When it comes to social media strategies, imagery is just as important as words (and sometimes more important). For a successful social media campaign, make sure your pictures are compelling and on brand.

6. In addition to regular social media posts, consider starting a live broadcast on one or more social channels, be it Instagram or TikTok LIVE. Live video is a great way to keep everyone updated and bump up the enthusiasm.

Giving Tuesday texting best practices

While email is the great uniter, SMS messages have a 98% open rate (compared to just 18% for emails), so what better way to connect with your supporters on Giving Tuesday than through text? Let’s type out some texting tips.

1. Texting is much more personal than emails and social posts, so don't use this medium for regular updates. Prior to the big day, announce your goals to bolster support. Then, on Giving Tuesday, craft the perfect text to encourage day-of donations. If you want, you can send one final text a week or so later, wrapping up a successful campaign and kicking off the year-end giving season. That's it!

2. Choose your words wisely, keeping your texts to 160 characters or less. The most important part of your text? The link to your campaign website.

3. Just like with social media posts, AI content creators, like Funraise’s AppealAI, are great at drafting a quick text or 10.

4. Send only one text on Giving Tuesday, and send it out early enough that folks can spread the news, but not so early that you're disrupting their morning commute. We suggest 9:00-10:00 am or during their lunch break.

Giving Tuesday campaign site best practices

On Giving Tuesday, your normal donation page won’t do the job. Here are our top tips to set up a custom fundraising website that will get the donations flowing. 

1. Just because this is a standalone site doesn't mean it won't benefit from your normal (snazzy!) branding. Being consistent here will build trust (especially with long-term, loyal donors) and give supporters confidence that this is a legitimate campaign.

2. Don’t forget images and videos; they capture people's attention and spark emotions. You can also visualize your progress toward your fundraising goal with a fundraising thermometer.

3. Measure your campaign’s success by tracking metrics on Google Analytics, your hosting platform, and/or any other connected tools. It'll set you up for success with future campaigns.

4. If you want to up your donation activity, make online fundraising easy, intuitive, and flexible. A few weeks in advance, consider potential improvements to the giving experience, like adding pop-up donation forms and offering multiple payment options.

5. 50% of your site visitors are on mobile devices, so make sure your site is mobile-friendly.

6. It should be easy to share your site. That means creating a link that's easy to copy, adding sharing buttons on your site, and ensuring that your images and meta descriptions translate easily to popular social platforms.

7. An awesome online fundraising campaign site starts with incredible fundraising software. Just take a look at Funraise's customizable fundraising website templates—we're here to make the process as easy-peasy-seamless as possible!

Giving Tuesday peer-to-peer best practices

Running a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign that leads up to Giving Tuesday is one way to get lots of eyes on your nonprofit organization. If you want in, here are our tips to put your P2P pedal to the metal.

1. Start early! You'll want to launch this campaign weeks in advance, factoring in time for campaign planning and spreading that awareness far and wide.

2. Emphasize urgency, tying your Giving Tuesday goal to a larger, time-bound goal that donors can get invested in.

3. Give your fundraisers the messaging and fundraising ideas they need. They’re doing the work of spreading the word—don't make them come up with what to say and do, too! FYI, Funraise's AppealAI writes amazing, on-brand peer-to-peer fundraising appeals to make it easy on your fundraisers.

4. Pair peer-to-peer with another tactic to make it fun. Try making it a fundraising challenge, offering swag or rewards, or ending with an event (in this case on Giving Tuesday!).

5. Encourage your fundraisers to be themselves by including a personal ask, story, or nonprofit video on their personal fundraising page, deepening that personal connection.

6. Follow up with all those new, first-time donors. A successful peer-to-peer campaign is a major opportunity for nonprofits in terms of donor acquisition, introducing your organization to a whole new audience. 

Giving Tuesday recurring giving best practices

The average donation for a monthly donor is $656 annually versus a one-time donor, who gives $128. So, what are you waiting for? This Giving Tuesday, solicit recurring gifts with these tips.

1. Donors need to know why they should give a recurring gift over a one-time gift. So, give them a great reason why you’re looking for a steady income stream in the form of monthly support.

2. $10 a month doesn’t sound like much, but if that's your average gift over five years with 500 donors, it makes a huge difference. Make sure your supporters can see the bigger picture.

3. Give your monthly giving program a unique name and exclusive benefits to create a sense of community and incentivize donors to join.

4. Make it easy to give. Nothing makes a donor close a window faster than a convoluted giving experience or confusing donation form options. (And PS, an effective fundraising tool, like Funraise, is the best way to ensure a silky smooth donation flow.)

5. Give a warm welcome. You've got an audience, and some of them are first-time donors. Draw them in with a compelling impact story, then provide regular updates so they'll want to engage in future fundraising efforts (maybe during next month's year-end giving season!).

Giving Tuesday matching gift best practices

When donors know that their impact will be doubled—or tripled—for one day only, they’re much more likely to give. Here are our tips to capture the magic of matching gifts this Giving Tuesday.

1. Once you’ve secured a major gift in the form of a matching donation from a generous donor or organization, shout it out across channels and platforms to encourage all your current donors and potential supporters to give big this Giving Tuesday.

2. Even if you don’t have a special Giving Tuesday match, you can use Giving Tuesday to market the heck out of your company matching gift program. And if you don't have one, Funraise makes it easy.

3. Much of Giving Tuesday’s power comes from the fact that it lasts just 24 hours—and so does a matching gift. Let everyone know that once the day has passed, that money and impact is gone.

4. To really show the positive impact of a matching gift, reflect the match in your fundraising total. That way, everyone has a visual representation of just how much more of an impact they’re making.

5. If someone didn’t check the “matching gift” box on your donation form, send them a reminder. Up to $7B in match-eligible donations are left unclaimed each year. That’s … a lot.

5 Giving Tuesday fundraising event tips

A Giving Tuesday event is a great way to draw attention, boost donations, and up donor engagement—just when the busy year-end fundraising season is starting. While you don't need us to tell you how to run an event, here are our tips as you hop on the train to donationsville. And if you need creative fundraising event ideas, we've got 'em in spades!

1. These days, if you're doing an in-person event only, you're missing out on a wealth of donors. Make it a virtual event or add a virtual component to up attendance and engagement.

2. Consider an all-day event, where supporters can dip in and out, checking on your fundraising progress all day long.

3. Your event doesn't have to be on Giving Tuesday itself; a post-Giving Tuesday event gives you the opportunity to ramp up the excitement around the total amount raised.

4. If your event yields recorded content, recycle it for year-round fundraising inspiration and future communications. A great nonprofit video is the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to social media content!

5. Remember: your event will reflect your nonprofit, so think about how you can make it inclusive, accessible, and a true representation of your values. Then, make it fun.

Giving Tuesday best practices for diverse revenue streams

It’s 2023, and a lot of nonprofits are looking to diversify their revenue streams to reduce financial risks and increase resilience. Giving Tuesday just might be the perfect time to get those new revenue streams rolling with diverse fundraising activities.

1. Accept non-cash gifts. If you’re only accepting cash or credit donations, you’re limiting your revenue and especially your major gifts. This Giving Tuesday, let everyone know that you’ll accept stocks and securities.

2. Go global. Diversifying is also about where your donations come from. If you haven’t crossed borders to find new donors (and new major gifts), do it now.

3. Say yes to crypto. Sure, it’s been all over the place lately, but it can open you up to a new, younger donor network.

4. Remember that time is money. Some folks can't afford to donate right now, but they can still give back on Giving Tuesday. Make a push to recruit specialized volunteers who will pledge their time instead of their dollars.

And there you have it: ALL the ideas and best practices to make the most of Giving Tuesday and have a major impact! Plus, a handy printable checklist to pin next to your computer so you can stay on track all season long.

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