It’s never too early to start thinking about #GivingTuesday.
Perhaps this will be your first year, or maybe it’s already at the heart of your year-end giving strategy – determining whether or not you reach your individual giving goal or blow past it.
Hold on! Why would anybody want to put themselves in that position?
Many don’t, and choose to instead focus their staff resources on other fundraising avenues in the last few weeks of the year. Just like organizing a major fundraising event, participating in #GivingTuesday carries with it opportunity costs that often get obscured.
This ultimately leads to the question: is your organization right for #GivingTuesday? If you are not sure, you have come to the right place. Before you plan your #GivingTuesday campaign this year, ask yourself these ten questions:
1. Are you willing to invest up to six months of preparation into your campaign?
Successful campaigns, whether on #GivingTuesday or not, don’t happen overnight. You have to be willing to invest the necessary staff time. Preparations for #GivingTuesday should start in the late Spring / early Summer, and you should be thinking about it all year. For me, there is almost nothing harder to watch than a #GivingTuesday campaign that consists of one only a half-hearted tweet, an underwhelming Facebook post and a generic email or two.
2. Do you have the tools to succeed?
Do you have the ability to create emails on the fly? Do you know who is opening your emails and what links they are clicking? Do you have the right database to easily track you #GivingTuesday donors? Can you track who is talking about you on social media? Can you segment and personalize your communications? These are just a few questions you should be able to say yes to.
3. Can you and your team be creative? Will you dare to do something different?
#GivingTuesday is getting more and more popular each year. It is getting hard to be heard above all the noise. You must dare to do something different to grab people’s attention. If you are not upsetting a couple of people on #GivingTuesday, that is a key sign that your communications are too bland.
4. Are there at least 25-50 people (other than board and staff) who are willing to be vocal ambassadors for you on #GivingTuesday?
If you take nothing else away from this post, understand this: #GivingTuesday is pointless unless you have a core group of people who are willing to be ambassadors for you leading up to and on the day of; ambassadors who are prepared to ask their friends, family members and colleagues to support your organization on #GivingTuesday.
5. Are you willing to call every single person who makes a gift on GivingTuesday within 48 hours?
The key to a successful #GivingTuesday is stewardship; what you do in the hours and days following this widespread day of giving. People will likely be giving to multiple organizations. The best way to differentiate yourself is how you thank your donors and how you communicate their impact on their community (not your organization). Think about reserving two hours late in the day for everyone on your staff to call and thank the people who made a #GivingTuesday that morning and afternoon.
6. Do you have a documented donor stewardship plan?
There is no point in acquiring new donors on this special day if you are just going to throw them into whatever mass communication cadence you already have planned in December and beyond. If you don’t have a documented plan in place to steward them – a plan that is just for them – you run the risk of generating negative ROI from #GivingTuesday donors who never give again.
7. Can you make your work relevant to a broad audience?
On #GivingTuesday you should be reaching out to new audiences. As a result, you need to ensure that you are appealing to as broad an audience as possible when you communicate your work and your mission. Not everybody will fall in love with the particular work you do. However, a lot of people will appreciate your work and might be willing to give if you tell how your work impacts their lives. For example: If you are a youth-serving organization, don’t focus on how a gift will impact Sally Student’s life. Show how supporting 1,000 Sally Students will make your community a better place to live, work, and play.
8. Do you have a reason for people to give other than #GivingTuesday?
Asking people to give because it is #GivingTuesday is not enough. Line up a series of matching gifts that you can announce throughout the day. If possible, connect a gift to a program goal as well so a donor feels like they are having an impact on your mission and the community by making a gift. Make it about the mission, not the giving mechanism.
9. Do you have the support of every board member and the commitment of everybody on staff?
More than any other fundraising campaign, #GivingTuesday’s success lies on the shoulders of every person on staff and every board member. Asking friends and family to give can be hard. But if your staff and board are not willing to donate themselves, how can they authentically ask others to give? Your #GivingTuesday will not be successful without staff and board contributions. Don’t embark on the campaign without that support lined up.
10. Do you have a strong social media presence and a robust email list?
The reason I have this last on the list is that I view it to be the least-important of these 10 questions. While a strong social media presence will help you reach more people on #GivingTuesday, all the tweets and Facebook posts in the world probably won’t equal the impact that five great volunteers making personal asks to a fwe dozen people in their network. People give to people, after all!
What about you? How do you plan for #GivingTuesday?
If you don’t participate, tell me why in the comments below!