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NOVEMBER 26, 2018 //     

Is #GivingTuesday just a forced fundraising moment?

Credit: Good360By: Scott Pansky

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the U.S. and major shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. This movement kicks off the charitable season, when many people focus on their end-of-year giving.

However, as the day draws near, my email box is again filling up with requests for donations, and I can’t help but question some of the organizations that only use this strategy to participate once a year. Am I just another name in a data base? Wouldn’t it be a better to reach out more often and build a deeper relationship with your donors rather than competing with numerous causes for year-end donations?

Don’t get me wrong, #GivingTuesday has helped charities raise more than $300 million dollars since its inception, but this effort now feels like a charity requirement – a box to be checked – rather than an opportunity to build deeper, authentic relationships with donors. I even received an email from GoFundMe.com asking me to select my favorite nonprofit and invite my friends and family to give to my favorite cause #GivingTuesday.

Having worked with charities for more than 26 years, I want to take this holiday season to remind them, and those making donations, the importance of building long-term and engaging relationships and promoting an organization’s impact year-round. Here are some tips for nonprofits to consider when participating in post #GivingTuesday this year and next:

  • Share the impact of your funding efforts, not just money raised, but how the funds were usede. how many meals were served, how many scholarships were awarded, research grants distributed, gallons of water secured, services provided.
  • Don’t always ask for donations. Utilize your database (with opt-in or out options) to share your best stories. This can include testimonials from patients or families impacted by an issue, research findings, or stories of success.
  • Thank your donors often. Each donation, no matter the size is a gift. Donors want to feel appreciated and know that their gift is making a difference. Show them your appreciation and let them know they are an important part of your organization i.e. donor spotlights.
  • Ask them to share your organization’s results with friends and associates. Each of your donors are micro-influencers that can help you raise additional funds if they love your organization.
  • Give donors the chance to share their stories. Ask them to post to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram sites. Their followers may start following your cause too.

One example of an organization that is optimizing #GivingTuesday is one of our clients, Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA). The charity realized over the past few years it had received numerous donations, yet strong recognition systems were not supported on crowdfunding platforms to recognize the new donors on an ongoing basis. This year, PWNA adjusted its campaign to focus on public education and lead generation by asking donors to register for a chance to win a grand prize drawing, in addition to a "soft ask" for donations. Online visitors now have different ways to sign up for targeted or regular updates and can donate through a gift or purchase of a T-shirt branded for Native American Heritage Month, which is also in November. The charity segues their Heritage Month Campaign into #GivingTuesday via an update to registrants on #GivingTuesday that includes an additional soft ask. Samples of their campaign components may be viewed here.

These types of efforts will not only help deepen relationships, but may also increase your reach and donations, making the final impact more about the good work you do more than a once-a-year donation request. Start this #GivingTuesday and let’s see what responses you get next year.

Happy holidays!

Scott Pansky is a co-founder at Allison+Partners, who also leads the agency’s Social Impact group.

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