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What 3 Nonprofits Did On #GivingTuesday Instead of Asking For Money

On Giving Tuesday 2017, I received 86 emails from over 60 orgs.

83 were solicitations, and you can read a full analysis of them here.

Three additional emails stood out to me from those 83. Perhaps these orgs recognized that most of the other nonprofits in the sector would be seeking donations. So, they instead took a different approach.

1) YMCA of Greater Omaha

Ask: Volunteer request, social media sharing

Crowdsourcing content from your community is a great way to build a content library with minimal effort. Not only is this YMCA asking their community to spread the word about them on Facebook (way better than sending out multiple posts from the brand account) but they’re also learning more about their supporters through the stories they share, which can be used in future communications, especially appeals.

Out of 86 emails, this was the only volunteer request I received. I am guessing it stood out amongst all of the other email recipients who were being inundated with monetary asks. I love how they equate volunteering with “giving the gift of joy to a child” – instantly making a connection between the volunteer and the org’s service recipients.

2. Humanitri

Ask: social media sharing

Similar to the YMCA of Greater Omaha, Humanitri also asks for email recipients to share why they support the org on social media.

The ask goes beyond just Facebook, and the email recipient is given ideas to craft their post.

What I love most about this email is the opening sentence. They greet you as a current donor, demonstrating that this email was segmented in some way. Perhaps Humanitri recognizes that a Giving Tuesday gift could cannibalize a forthcoming year-end gift of greater significance?

3. charity: water

Sorry for yet another charity: water example, but they are the masters of standing out.

Their Giving Tuesday email encourages you to share a link to a personal fundraising page, so that you can go out and raise money for them, rather than (or in addition to) donating yourself.

Yes, this obviously requires a substantial investment in the technology – but, conceptually, asking your supporters to raise money for you on a day saturated with messaging from brands seems like a good idea.

What do you think? Is there a real value to standing out, or is being different for the sake of just being different too risky? Let me know in the comments below!

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  • Steven Shattuck

    Completely agree!
  • Tina Cincotti

    Interesting...My #GT email from charity:water was focused on helping them "finish the job" for one of their water projects by becoming a monthly donor. And it seems you already are a monthly donor to them, Steve, yes? So they smartly segmented their list. I mean, of course, they're charity:water! I have struggled with #GT since it's inception. I've come to accept it but I advise my clients to do one of two things in their approach -- either (1) use it as your kickoff to year-end fundraising campaign, treat it as a real event, and do it right (take people off the list once they gave, enlist board members to participate, segment, promptly thank folks, etc) or (2) use the day as an opportunity to give thanks to your donors. Most of my clients don't have the resources to pull off option 1 so they do option 2. And more and more, I'm advising orgs to send the "option 2 communication" the day before so it might actually be seen and opened. My one client that executes well on option 1 has more than doubled what they've raised each of the past two years--this year, exceeding their reach goal of $50k by more than $20k. Despite my mixed feeling on GT, you can't argue with that kind of successful start to year-end fundraising. In my view, the worst approach is jumping on the bandwagon by sending one lonely email that looks like all the rest because a board member will call and say "why haven't we sent anything for GT??" if you don't. That garners no good will. It raises little, if any, money. And at worst, it can piss off donors who are irritated at everyone who emails them that day.
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