Giving Tuesday Timeline

If you’ve heard about Giving Tuesday, you likely know that it presents a huge opportunity for nonprofits to raise a lot of money during one 24-hour period. In 2021, Giving Tuesday falls on Tuesday, November 30. That’s right around the corner! If you’re wondering how you can prepare for success, keep reading for a sample Giving Tuesday timeline.  

Deciding to participate in Giving Tuesday

In my experience, the nonprofits that achieve the most success have a strong social media following and engaged audience, staff members who have the bandwidth to run the day-of activities, and a good email list that will respond to your calls to action. 

Although I encourage you to give it a go no matter what, I especially encourage you to participate in this year’s big giving day if you meet most or all of the criteria below: 

  • You have an active presence on social media. 
  • You have someone with social media expertise on hand.  
  • You have someone with email marketing expertise on hand.
  • You have an engaged audience on social media. 
  • You have a robust email list to market to, consisting of at least 3,000 active subscribers. 
  • You can secure a match of at least $2,500. 

Planning your Giving Tuesday campaign

Once you decide to participate, it’s time to get planning!

Even though Giving Tuesday only lasts for one day, I recommend starting to plan for it about three months out. 

To help you get started, here’s a sample Giving Tuesday timeline you can follow. 

Sample Giving Tuesday timeline 

September

Talk to your donors and try to secure a matching gift for the Giving Tuesday campaign. This isn’t a request you want to rush! 

This is also the time to identify your campaign ambassadors, whether they’re board members, donors, celebrities, etc. Give these people plenty of time to prepare for their roles and think about how they can best serve your cause. 

October 

This is when you’ll determine your campaign’s theme, goal, and budget.   

Once you decide on your theme, create all of the assets for your communication channels—think about your website, the emails you’ll send, and the content you’ll share on social media. This also includes things like your campaign landing page, ambassador’s landing pages, donation forms, pop-up ads, etc.   

November 

Now that you’ve got everything organized, it’s time to write and schedule your email appeals and social media posts

Here are some things to keep in mind when writing and scheduling your content:

  • Spotlight your organization’s needs through client testimonials that demonstrate why your mission deserves their support and how your organization has helped people in the past.  
  • Plan your matching gift announcements and/or special rewards (i.e. a free sticker or t-shirt).  
  • Make sure your email marketing tool will suppress donors who give through additional Giving Tuesday appeals.  
  • Write a draft of your thank you letter so you can send it immediately after the campaign ends.

Mid-November (2 weeks before) 

One of the most important things you can do to retain your donors and keep them engaged in your mission is to thank them immediately after they make a gift. 

With that in mind, create a robust new donor stewardship plan to thank new donors. This can include things like shouting them out on social media, thanking them in your receipt or acknowledgment email, creating a thank you video, arranging thank you calls from board members, sending handwritten cards, etc.  

Now that it’s getting closer to the big day, test your email campaigns, segmentation, and automation so you can be confident that everything is good to go.

Post about your campaign to drum up excitement. Don’t assume your donors and supporters know you’re going to participate in Giving Tuesday—tell them you will. 

Cyber Monday (one day before)

Don’t be afraid to ask for support a little early. Generate excitement and ask supporters and followers to donate and kick off the big day with funds already raised. 

You should also ask them to share the campaign with friends and family so you can reach as many people as possible.

Giving Tuesday (day of)

Here’s a sample communications Giving Tuesday timeline:  

  • Send at least three automated emails throughout the day (morning, midday, and evening) asking for gifts. Make sure you suppress donors from additional asks after they make a gift.
  • Immediately thank donors on social media and via email. If possible, start making thank you calls as well. 
  • Keep your social media followers and email subscribers updated on your progress as you near your goal to spur their excitement and engagement—and hopefully drive last-minute donations.  

The next day

Like I mentioned above, you want to thank your donors as soon as possible. This is the day to send those thank you videos and emails, handwritten cards, and gift receipt letters.  

Again, if you’re able to do so, pick up the phone and welcome new donors with a personal thank you message.  

One week later 

Follow up with your supporters and let them know how much your organization raised and what impact that will have on your mission. 

Want some extra help with your Giving Tuesday appeal? Run it through my free end-of-year appeal checklist. You can also grab a lookbook loaded with five end-of-year appeal makeovers and a 90-minute live end-of-year fundraising training here.   

Whether you’ve participated in Giving Tuesday before or this is your first time, I hope it’s a successful day for your organization! 

donor loyalty

Rachel Muir
Rachel Muir, CFRE transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show.