An Infographic Guide to the Top Giving Tuesday Ideas

What if there was a movement you could join that would boost your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts and expand your support base all in one day? Wouldn’t you want to join in and allow your organization to reap the benefits of a day set aside just for charity?

Deemed “Giving Tuesday”, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has now become a day set aside solely to focus on giving back during a season of heightened consumerism. Fueled by social media, #GivingTuesday has gone viral since its inception in 2012 and offers nonprofits of every size and variety the opportunity to raise funds and spread the message about their causes.

As Giving Tuesday continues to grow in popularity, so does the list of organizations choosing to take part in the event. While this doesn’t mean that your charity won’t reap any benefits from participating, it does mean that your campaign should be crafted with care and intentionality.

The challenge is to determine how to make your nonprofit stand out from the crowd and maximize the impact of your campaign, and this guide full of helpful Giving Tuesday ideas is here to help.

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What is Giving Tuesday All About?

Everyone has likely heard of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and, more recently, Cyber Monday, but what about the newly sanctioned Giving Tuesday?

In 2015, only 18% of Americans were aware of Giving Tuesday, often written #GivingTuesday due to the hashtag’s strong social media influence, which seems minimal in comparison to the 93% who were familiar with Black Friday. However, this day of giving has continued to increase in popularity and is now attracting attention on a global scale. But what exactly is this trendy hashtag, and where did it come from?

Started in 2012 by 92nd Street Y and United Nations Foundation as a counter-response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a new movement designed to offer an alternative to the consumerism that has, for so long, dominated the days following Thanksgiving and signified the start of the Christmas shopping season. It aims to unify a diverse group of businesses, corporations, nonprofits, civic organizations, families, and individuals to work together to make a difference in communities around the world.

But why choose the Tuesday after Thanksgiving?​

Widely referred to as the Season of Giving, the holidays have traditionally been a time of generosity and gift-giving, reflected in the increased donations most charities see in the final month of the year (nearly o ne third of charitable giving takes place in December annually). Aside from acting as a counterpoint to the buying frenzy that takes place on Black Friday (and the days that follow), Giving Tuesday serves as a reminder to turn the focus away from ourselves and onto others as we usher in the holidays.

Giving Tuesday Guide:

Is Giving Tuesday Really Worth the Effort? 3 Considerations

While Giving Tuesday has raised millions of dollars and continues to involve an increasing number of organizations, what about the skeptics?

Some people think a day of worldwide, selfless giving sounds too good to be true or that the funds raised are donations that would have been received anyway, just over a larger stretch of time rather than all in one day. If you are going to take part in Giving Tuesday, it is important to consider every aspect of the event so that you don’t have unrealistic goals or expectations.

Here are the top 3 arguments against Giving Tuesday and the facts that can help you decide whether it is worth your nonprofit’s time and efforts.​

1. You Might Not Raise Much​

This is a valid point to take into consideration when planning your campaign, but it does not mean that you should avoid the day all together. It simply means that you should be wise in how much you invest in your campaign.

Some organizations have raised tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars on Giving Tuesday. The Pratt Library in Baltimore raised $41,000 as they competed with the Cleveland Library to see who could raise the most, and World Bicycle Relief raised enough to donate 1,087 bikes to school children in Africa, which exceeded their goal by more than 250 bikes. However, when the total amount of money raised on Giving Tuesday is dispersed between the thousands of participating organizations, the average amount raised is only a few thousand dollars.​

When planning your campaign, the best plan of action is to set a realistic goal and then budget accordingly. And who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised by how much you are able to raise and can set a more ambitious goal next year.​

​2. Your Message Might Get Crowded Out by Competition

While it is true that thousands of organization are now utilizing the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reach out to their supporters, that doesn’t mean that your message won’t be well-received or make an impact. You also have to consider the fact that not every nonprofit is targeting the same audience, so it’s not as if you are competing against every other organization with a Giving Tuesday campaign.

You may have a little more competition if your main objective is to target new donors on Giving Tuesday, but if your goals are to enhance your relationship with current donors and encourage increased generosity during this special event, the appeal of other nonprofits should not greatly impact the effectiveness of your campaign.​

Simply make sure that you are appealing to your audience, taking the necessary steps to make your organization stand out from the crowd.​

3. You Could Harm Your Other Campaigns

You may have heard the term cannibalization used in reference to the idea that your donors may give a reduced amount during your one-day campaign and then skip on their usual end-of-the-year giving, but there is no real data to support this criticism.​

If communicated correctly, Giving Tuesday should be a special event that calls your donors to take part on that day in addition to their usual involvement rather than in lieu of it.

Get Started by Setting Tangible, Measurable Goals

As with any fundraising campaign, the first thing to do when planning for Giving Tuesday is to formulate a set of realistic, yet still ambitious, goals. This will give you more insight as to what exactly needs to be done in order to have a successful campaign and how to allocate your resources.

If you aren’t sure where to begin when setting your organization’s financial goals for Giving Tuesday, start by asking these 3 questions to get the ball rolling:​

  1. In the past, what have we raised during one-day, holiday campaigns?​
  2. How much were other comparably-sized organizations able to raise with their Giving Tuesday campaigns?
  3. What amount or awareness do we need to raise in order to be able to achieve our desired objective?

In order to make your campaign more tangible to donors, set measurable objectives that fit into your organization’s broader, long term mission. These can be time-, item-, or dollar-specific, so long as they show supporters exactly what their funds are being used for when they donate.

For example, a time specific goal could be that you aim to raise enough to provide a year’s worth of education for 25 children in 24 hours. Or attempting to build three wells in African villages could be an item specific objective. It doesn’t matter what type of goals you set as long as they further your cause and demonstrate the impact your donors will have by donating.​

The goal setting phase is important to your campaign because it will significantly impact your perceived success. If your organization is struggling with defining goals, following a guide like the SMART goal setting method, which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific, can help make sure that you set reachable goals without selling yourself short.​

6 Initiatives to Reward Donors and Set Donation Tiers

Most people are open to the idea of giving but often need that extra push or a little guidance on how much to donate. When developing your campaign, it can be beneficial to incorporate additional incentives for donors to give and add giving tiers that guide supporters when deciding how much to give.

If you want to entice donors to take action on Giving Tuesday, here are 5 ways you can encourage your supporters to join in and reward them for their generosity:​

1. Acknowledgement on Social Media​

Giving your donors a virtual nod on social media is a simple and straightforward way to recognize their donation and validate their contribution.​

​An important part of retaining donors is making sure they know that their donation was appreciated and made an impact. If you make them feel good about giving, they are much more likely to do it again. Keep in mind that Giving Tuesday is not just about what you can raise in one day; it is an opportunity to connect with current supporters as you encourage them to give and begin to build relationships with new donors.

Plus, it is likely that other followers will be inspired to give when they see the impact their fellow supporters are making.​

2. Reciprocate with a Gift​

​One way to reward your donors for giving is to give them something in return. Sending an inexpensive gift can be a worthwhile investment that demonstrates your appreciation and builds loyalty to your organization.

​Try to pick a gift that is useful and relates to your cause (e.g., an animal shelter sending out a decorative pet bandana or collar), and don’t forget to include your organization’s logo. Your donors will love it and think of you every time they use it, and it might even give your nonprofit a little free publicity.

3. Hand-written Thank You Letters​

Saying thank you is more important than most nonprofits realize. While it may be easier to thank the masses using social media or even a “personalized” email, there is nothing quite as sincere or endearing as a handwritten thank you note.

You do have to be realistic, which means that it may not be possible to send a personal note to every person who donates to your Giving Tuesday campaign. But you can strategically choose a selection of faithful or major donors and send them thank you notes that will likely encourage future involvement and grow their loyalty to your organization.

4. First Donor or Top Donor Prizes​

A fun and exciting way to encourage supporters to get involved on Giving Tuesday is to add a little friendly competition to the mix. Making a donation to a cause you care about might feel good, but winning a prize for your generosity is even better.

Choose a prize that is within your nonprofit’s budget and decide how donors can win it (you could award the first ten to donate, the top donor, etc.). Be sure to publicize the prize in advance in order to build excitement and post the winner(s) on social media afterward to continue to draw attention to your organization.​

Many donors will even donate their prize back to the organization, making this a simple, and sometimes free, option.

5. Call or Meet Donors in Person​

In any campaign, one of your goals should always be to build deeper bonds with your supporters. Instead of offering a prize, you can set up a meeting with some of your donors to thank them in person and show them a behind-the-scenes look at your nonprofit.

This will not only reward them for donating; it strengthens the connection they feel with your organization and gives them a chance to witness the impact of their donation in action.

If meeting in person is not a viable option for your nonprofit, personal phone calls thanking your donors are another alternative that will leave a much longer lasting impact than a mass email or Facebook message.​

6. How to Set Donation Tiers

Most people would love to support a good cause, especially if it is one that is near and dear to their heart, but often don’t know where to start or how much to give. Setting donation tiers is beneficial because it allows you to guide your donors in their giving so that they aren’t left wondering whether they are truly making an impact.

To determine what your donation tiers should be, you’ll want to first look at your overall fundraising goal, what you intend on using the funds for, and what type of involvement it will take to get there. Keep in mind that your tiers will likely vary from campaign to campaign and may not be the same as those of other organizations.​

If you need assistance setting your donation levels, check out these helpful tips and examples.​

Rally the Troops: The Importance of Spreading the Word

Do you know your audience?

​As you prepare your Giving Tuesday campaign, it is critical to have a clear idea of your current and potential supporters and who your target audience is going to be. A day like this can be the perfect time to bring in new donors, but it can also serve as a good opportunity to enhance your existing relationships.

​There is no right or wrong answer as to the segment on which you should focus your attention (you can even target several if you have the time and resources available), as long as you choose what will benefit your organization the most in the long run and personalize a campaign to each group.

Most nonprofits use several different channels to spread their message and communicate with their supporters. Depending on who you are targeting, you will need to utilize these outlets to start tilling the soil in order to prepare people for your campaign several weeks in advance. You can send out emails or direct mail to your existing supporters, as well as post on your website and any social media channels used by your organization.​

Thanks to social media, nonprofits have been able to expand their reach further than ever before, attracting thousands of followers that support their cause online and through various media outlets. Especially with an event like #GivingTuesday that was born out of the social media movement, utilizing Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and any other media your supporters are using is essential to building hype about your campaign.​

Top 17 Fresh, Insider Tips for a Successful Giving Tuesday

As Thanksgiving approaches, you want to make sure you have taken all the measures to make your fundraising campaign a success. Here are 17 simple tips for your nonprofit to ensure maximum impact this Giving Tuesday.

1. Get an Early Start​

This may just be a one-day event, but the planning and publicizing of your campaign should begin long before visions of turkey dinners start dancing in people’s heads. During the planning stages, you want to give yourself enough time to set goals, assess your audience, formulate a plan, and put it into action.​

Start publicizing your campaign weeks in advance using as many platforms as you can. Incorporate something about Giving Tuesday on your website, send out emails to supporters, and post promotional material on social media.​

Finally, you can even allow donors to get a jumpstart on the giving by “opening up” early (think Target opening for Black Friday starting at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day). It never hurts to add a few extra hours to your campaign.​

2. Create a Sense of Urgency​

In order to inspire donors to take action the day of the event instead of waiting to donate until a later date, your campaign needs to create a sense of urgency that demonstrates the importance of an immediate response. Remind your donors that they only have 24 hours to help you reach your Giving Tuesday goals. You could also combine this with #10 (matching donations) to increase the urgency further.

3. Recruit Social Ambassadors

Want to maximize your social media reach on Giving Tuesday?

By finding social media followers to serve as social ambassadors, you are empowering your supporters to campaign for you and share your message within their circles to reach a greater number of people. Recruit active followers in advance and provide them with training and content to share with others leading up to and on Giving Tuesday.​

4. Get Listed on​

While you do not have to register with in order to take part in this global day of giving, there are benefits to becoming an official participant.

Aside from having your organization listed on the #GivingTuesday website, you will receive a toolki t and have access to other resources designed to make your Giving Tuesday campaign a success. Plus, your nonprofit will likely reap the rewards of the official #GivingTuesday social media campaign and those of other partnering organizations.​

5. Mobile-Friendly Donation Page

Be sure to have a prominent “Donate Now” button displayed on your website that links to your donation page (something you want to have on your website regardless of any upcoming events or campaigns). Having a mobile-friendly website and donation page is an absolute must and not just for this particular event.​

An increasing number of people are using the internet on their mobile devices, and you want your donors to be able to give easily and from anywhere at any time.​

6. Multiple Social Media Platforms​

​#GivingTuesday is predominantly a social media phenomenon, so you want to make sure to have all of your bases covered in order to connect with as many donors as possible.

Start a hashtag that includes Giving Tuesday and your nonprofit’s name, posting to it regularly leading up to and on the day of the event. And remember, hashtags are not just for Twitter. You can use them to boost your campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and other media as well.​

7. Fun Engagement: #UNselfie​

Whether they will admit it or not, almost everyone has taken a selfie at some point, but in the same way Giving Tuesday challenges the consumer focus of Black Friday, the UNselfie puts a selfless spin on the traditional selfie. By asking your supporters to post an #UNselfie, you are encouraging their involvement and empowering them to spread the word about your cause for you.

8. Text to Donate​

Make giving as easy as possible by promoting a keyword that donors can text in to receive a text message containing a link to your donation page (which needs to be mobile-friendly). Include this keyword in your social media posts and on any photos or videos your organization uses to promote your campaign. You can also set up a giving platform that allows them to text a code to donate that goes directly on their cell phone bill.

9. Utilize the Power of Photos and Videos​

Never underestimate the power an image or video can have to inspire someone to give.

Post photos and videos leading up to and on Giving Tuesday that illustrate what donors are supporting when they give to your organization and ask them to join your cause. People retain 80% of what they see as opposed to only 20% of what they read, so visuals are key in making a lasting impact on your audience.

And don’t forget, visuals also offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate your textable keyword and a prominent “Donate Now” button that will help direct your audience to that mobile-friendly donation page you made sure to have ready before the big day.​

10. Matching Donations

A great way to encourage donors to give and help your organization reach its fundraising goals more quickly is to find corporate partners or generous individuals willing to match donations given during the event. This is also an effective way to create a sense of urgency as you remind your donors that the impact of their donation will be doubled if they give on (and ONLY on) Giving Tuesday.

​11. Three Important Types of Partnerships

Matching sponsorships are just one of three important kinds of partnership s that can help make your Giving Tuesday campaign a success. In 2016, 82 of the world’s largest companies participated in this global day of giving, and they did a lot more than just agree to match donations or make charitable contributions of their own.

Partners also provide useful brand recognition, marketing assistance, and access to valuable resources like volunteers and advertising space. Giving Tuesday is about building connections, but those don’t have to stop with you and your donors. Reach out and build ties that can unite the entire community in supporting your cause.

12. Craft Your Compelling Story​

The importance of storytellin g may not seem relevant when fundraising in a 24-hour window, but it is a key component to crafting a compelling campaign. Thousands of organizations are vying for attention on Giving Tuesday, so your nonprofit’s unique story is its chance to stand out in the crowd and catch the attention of donors.​

Start your storytelling in advance so that people have the opportunity to connect with and share your cause but not so far in advance that you can’t incorporate an immediate call to action.​

13. Make Giving Tangible​

Most people work hard for their money and can have a hard time giving it away, especially when they don’t know exactly what it is going to be used for. Supporters are much more likely to donate if you make their impact tangible by asking them to donate to meet a specific need instead of to a general fund for your organization.​

14. Create Fun Incentives for Giving​

Think of an exciting incentive to inspire your donors to help you reach your fundraising goals. Offer to dunk your CEO at your next big event, or another equally enticing spectacle, if you raise your desired amount, and then use that throughout the day to encourage and inspire people to give as you near your goal.

15. Highlight and Share Stories​

​Telling your nonprofit’s story is a critical part of creating a compelling campaign, but sharing the stories of you r donor s is equally as important. Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to recognize a few of your key donors and tell their stories in order to inspire others to become involved with your organization. It also lets those donors know just how much you appreciate them, making them more likely to continue their involvement and support.

16. Say Thank you with a Running Tally of Donors​

Though we may like to think that people just want to give out of the goodness of their hearts, the truth is that most people seek to reap something in return for their donation. Giving to a good cause makes people feel good, and it is our job to supply that validation in order to retain donors and encourage others to follow in their footsteps.

Keep a running tally of donations and list of donors on social media throughout the day so that those who gave will see the impact they have made and others will be encouraged to join in the giving, unless they have asked to remain anonymous. However, even if you do thank your supporters as they give via social media, it is always a good idea to follow up with an additional thank you after the event as well.​

17. Use Giving Tuesday as a Launch Pad

Giving Tuesday does not have to be just a 24-hour event. Just as Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season, this unique Tuesday is the perfect way to launch your end-of-year giving campaign. Use it as an opportunity to get donors excited about your cause and into the spirit of giving.

The most effective campaigns are not designed to replace other fundraising efforts; instead they should rally the support of your current donors and draw in new followers to create momentum as you pitch your end-of-the-year campaign and look toward the approaching new year.​

Take It a Step Further & Enhance Giving Tuesday with Ally360

In conjunction with conventional campaigning methods, there are also ways to use crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising to enhance your efforts on Giving Tuesday.

So what exactly is crowdfunding? In contrast to the traditional approach of raising capital that focuses mainly on banks and other wealthy investors, crowdfunding is a method for raising money through the collective efforts of family, friends, customers, and individual investors.

​You can also use peer-to-peer fundraising, which is another way to raise money that is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the aid of social networking. This type of fundraising is effective because it allows your supporters to fundraise on your behalf, expanding your reach significantly.

Now that you are ready to take part in this global day of giving, the next step is to start creating your very own cohesive Giving Tuesday campaign, and Ally360 is here to help.

If you are seeking assistance with your organization’s campaign or simply need additional marketing guidance to boost your current fundraising efforts, the Ally360 marketing team of experts can help. We are a marketing firm designed to help nonprofits succeed through expertise, marketing, and education, and it is our goal to make sure your organization has all the knowledge, resources, and support it needs to grow donations and memberships and further your cause through increased and enhanced exposure.

We are here to make sure you go into Giving Tuesday well-prepared and ready to reach the world for your cause.​

Originally published at on August 19, 2017.

Inbound Marketing, Lead Generation & Email Marketing Automation Expert, WhyStuffSucks™ Keynote Speaker, Author, Investor