Fundraising 365: Think Beyond #GivingTuesday

donate-1426736_1280I have never been a fan of #GivingTuesday. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for organizations looking for ways to diversify funding and increase their income, but I think this has become more of a trendy day and fundraising efforts can be strategically focused and targeted elsewhere. I am not the only one who is not a fan of #GivingTuesday. Brady Josephson wrote an interesting piece in Huffington Post in 2014 about how he hated #GivingTuesday. Now I won’t go that far, but I appreciate his quote about why he isn’t a fan:

“Because it’s not about the donor. And fundraising that’s not about the donor is bad fundraising. So we end up with day full of bad fundraising.”

Let’s keep it real — Fundraising is all about the donor. Engaging the donor. Understanding why the donor would want to give to your cause in the first place. Sharing stories with the donor and why these stories should matter to them. In my opinion, all giving is great and although the organization will raise some additional funds, #GivingTuesday does not allow for the best way to engage donors, especially long-time or repeat donors.

By now, you have already decided on partaking or not. But, if you are going to incorporate #GivingTuesday into your fund development plan moving forward, then I would suggest learning from this year and being very strategic and thoughtful about your efforts for next year.  Here is my two cents on how to make #GivingTuesday more than just a trend your organization is following and how to make it work for you long-term, as well as strategies for end of the year giving.

  • Be clear about expectations, the amount you want to raise and who you will target. Keep in mind, that December is around the corner and you probably want to focus on your end of the year appeal as well. Which is another reason why you must be very strategic with your “ask” for #GivingTuesday.
  • Make #GivingTuesday about something specific, such as a targeted giving campaign. Focus the day on a particular issue or program that you want to highlight — new computers for the school tech lab, professional development training for the early childhood teachers or exercise equipment for the local shelter. This will give donors something tangible and concrete to attach to their donation. It also allows the organization to follow up with stories and pictures of the impact their donation had on that specific cause.
  • Use #GivingTuesday as the kick-off to your end of the year appeal. Rather than treat this day as a separate event, incorporate it in your overall funding strategy. Launch your end of the year giving appeal with #GivingTuesday and highlight the work and stories of your work through the end of December.
  • Get organized about your fund development plans. Whether it is #GivingTuesday or fundraising in general, have specific goals about what you want to accomplish. If you are participating in #GivingTuesday and also doing an end of the year appeal, determine how you will approach each campaign.
  • Clean up your donor lists!!! Hire a temp or enlist an intern to go into your database and ensure all names and addresses are correct and up-to-date. Be sure your database is free of duplicates and errors in names or street addresses as well as check that email addresses are accurate. There is always a bounce back or return to sender piece of mail, but these should be minimal.

I consistently urge organizations to focus on fundraising 365 days a year, not just loose-change-1167839_1280October to December for the end of the year appeal and especially not just on the weeks leading up to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Whether you have a large staff or one person dedicated to fund development, spend every month in 2017 getting to know your donors, engaging them and developing a solid donor stewardship program. You do not need a large budget to conduct fundraising. Just determine what you can realistically do based on your existing budget. Stick to your goals, but be flexible enough to know where you can make adjustments when needed.

I wish every organization a prosperous end of the year!!