We’re approaching that shopping-days-have-names time of year: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber-Monday.
So finally arriving at Giving Tuesday, when we’re urged to give and not just spend, comes as a relief. (Mark November 30, 2021 on your calendar everyone!) Created in 2012 by Henry Timms, then president and CEO of the 92nd Street Y in New York City (along with Sharon Feder Hirsch, Adam Hirsch, Matthew Bishop, Ann Curran and others), Giving Tuesday encourages people to give back by donating to nonprofits of all kinds. Or as GivingTuesday, the nonprofit that supports the movement says on its website, “GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of radical generosity.” Curran, who left her job at 92Y to become CEO of Giving Tuesday in 2019, has done a terrific job taking the project to a whole new level.
Giving Tuesday means a lot to us at Digimentors. Co-founder and CEO Sree Sreenivasan was invited by the founding team for brainstorming sessions after that first successful year, and he’s been excited to see it become a worldwide movement. Sree has always made working with nonprofits a priority — even before Digimentors existed. Sree continually makes the point that helping nonprofits is part of Digimentors’ DNA. Vice President of Events and Communications Neil Parekh previously worked at United Way Worldwide, the world's largest privately funded nonprofit, helping local United Ways maximize their Giving Tuesday efforts. Rajni Menon, VP of Operations, has worked on Giving Tuesday with Sree on multiple clients, including Pratham. And Jenny Lazarus, VP Strategy and Business Development, has worked on giving Tuesday for The REED Foundation for Autism.
Here are a few thoughts about how nonprofits can best tap into this international day of giving.
Start planning early. Designate an overall leader and support team. Provide them with channels for their own communication (such as their own Slack channel) along with information they need to contact potential donors by email, text, social media.
But remember it’s never too late, says Jamie McDonald, CEO at UpSurge Baltimore and former Chief Strategy Officer at GivingTuesday.org. Running late in your planning? One good tactic McDonald recommends for “day of” involves using Giving Tuesday for a thank-a-thon. (Listen to Jamie McDonald's "Digimentors Briefing" conversation with Sree about Giving Tuesday for even more background and ideas.)
Make it fun. Baseball caps and/or t-shirts with your nonprofit’s logo, social media handle(s), and the hashtag #GivingTuesday can help promote camaraderie and sense of purpose for all those involved. Designate a room for your team. Provide food. Encourage people to engage their own social channels and networks.
Set goals. Whether it’s dollars or new donors you’re going after, put it out there. Create a graphic (a “thermometer” always works) that you can use on Giving Tuesday to let people know how you’re doing. During Giving Tuesday you can share your progress on email or social media.
Tell a compelling story. And build your campaign around it. Choose one story that illustrates who you are, what you do, how you affect lives. Tell the story over the course of three or more emails or a series of social media posts. Emphasize how people can be a part of the story.
Remember it’s not always about $$$. Yes, financial donations are certainly helpful. However, especially considering that the world economies are still recovering from the pandemic downturn, some people who can’t afford to contribute money may have a lot to offer — their time, their skills, their social networks. Be open to and solicit all kinds of support
Reward your supporters. A clever, fun thank-you email is enough to make people smile — and remember in the coming years that they “felt” your gratitude. Unfortunately, many first-time givers never give again.
Also keep in mind that promoting a specific day to give, one that has become a part of global movement and has garnered much cachet, is helpful to the donors themselves. For decades and decades people have put off their charitable gifts until the end of December — writing their checks just in time to get their tax deduction. Sometimes . . . well, it’s January 3 and they’ve forgotten to make that gift. Add to that: randomly-timed giving makes it hard for nonprofits to know when to expect income and plan ahead. Urging people to give on a specific day helps.
Finally there’s this:
Digimentors can help you structure your Giving Tuesday plan. We have worked with nonprofits large and small.
Listen to Jamie McDonald's "Digimentors Briefing" conversation with Sree about Giving Tuesday for even more background and ideas.