As we talk to nonprofit customers and friends about #GivingTuesday, one question always seems to persist:
“Will my #GivingTuesday campaign cannibalize my end-of-year appeal?”
This is certainly a fair question, given the timing of #GivingTuesday (the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is typically one of the first days of December). It’s also a question that prevents many fundraisers from jumping in to #GivingTuesday.
But is it warranted?
There are many ways to approach and respond to this question, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
Unabashedly ask twice
To go along with hard evidence of how much is raised by nonprofits, there is a lot of conjecture that refutes that idea that #GivingTuesday cannibalizes year-end giving.
But if you only ask for money once during the month of December, and that ask happens to coincide with #GivingTuesday, you’ll probably be disappointed. The inverse is also true: it would be a shame to miss out on all of that activity just because you were worried about about donor fatigue.
The truth is, some fundraisers simply don’t ask enough. Jeff from Veritus Group has a nice reminder for you: “Asking your donors to make an investment in your organization that will make an impact on the world is one the greatest things you can do for a donor. Donors want to give. They need to give. Donors experience joy in their lives when they give their money away.”
So don’t be afraid to ask!
If you are going to ask twice (or more) there certainly are ways to avoid cannibalizing your year-end appeals. Many nonprofits have been successful using some of the ideas below:
1. Focus solely on social media
If you have folks who only give by direct mail or events, you might leave them out of #GivingTuesday appeals. After all, it is a day of online giving, so don’t use an offline channel to promote an online gift to offline donors!
2. Empower others to raise the money for you
You don’t have to be the one asking for money on #GivingTuesday. Why not organize a group of influential social media users who are passionate about your cause, and have them get the word out for you? Challenges like this one work particularly well.
3. Making your #GivingTuesday appeal very specific
One way to set your #GivingTuesday appeal apart from your year-end appeal is to make an ask towards a very specific purpose, rather than an unrestricted donation. Considering making #GivingTuesday all about one project or need – something tangible, compelling and urgent. It will help donors who happen to see both appeals understand that they are different campaigns. This is a nice approach if you choose to integrate your #GivingTuesday and year-end appeals (the opposite of the suggestion in point #1).
4. Participate in #GivingTuesday without asking for money
What if your organization was the one doing the giving? Rather than soliciting gifts, why not take the day to recognize those who support your mission, like donors, volunteers, sponsors, grantees and vendors? You could show off all the things they made possible throughout the year. Dec. 2nd could instead be #ThankingWednesday! Not a bad way to steward folks before your big annual appeal.
Don’t forget: year-end giving is a juggernaut
Even if you wanted to cannibalize your year-end appeal, it might be hard to do so.
According to Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index, 31% of 2014 annual giving occurred in December. 12% of 2014 giving happens in the last three days of the year! Those last-minute givers also gave more than. The average gift size on Dec. 2, 2014 (Giving Tuesday) was $142. On New Year’s Eve, it was $229.
Perhaps a better question to (jokingly) ask is will your year-end appeal cannibalize your New Year’s Eve gifts? If you put some thought into #GivingTuesday, put triple the amount into your December 31st plans. Quadruple it for how you acknowledge the gift.
Fundraising as a profession doesn’t come down to one day of the year. In the unlikely event that you alienate a donor, it will probably have more to do with how you asked and what you asked for, rather than when the ask was made. And this can happen at any point in the year, not just December.
Don’t agonize too much over whether to jump into #GivingTuesday head-first. If you’re worried, start slow. Do something small and see what happens. If it goes well, scale it up next year. If it doesn’t go well, try something different next year. Either way, no one is going to revoke your status as a fundraiser.
What are your year-end plans? Do they include #GivingTuesday? Let me know in the comments below!