Giving Tuesday Prep: 5 Tips to Engage Your Community
Giving Tuesday is held on the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving and is the single biggest fundraising day for nonprofits around the world. When the holiday began in 2012, $10.1 million was raised. Just last year, that number increased to $380 million — raised in one day.
If you choose to opt-in to Giving Tuesday this year, there are a few strategies you can take to engage your community with the giving day. We’re going to look at the following tips:
- Utilize digital outreach methods.
- Host a fun, community-building event.
- Offer a variety of ways to give back.
- Empower your community to work on your behalf.
- Demonstrate the results of community involvement.
Whether using digital outreach methods or putting on a fun fundraising event (such as any of the unique fundraising ideas in this guide), there are a ton of ways to engage your community this Giving Tuesday. Let’s dive in!
1. Utilize Digital Outreach Methods
The world of digital outreach has exploded over the past few years, with the introduction of social media and a heavy reliance on email changing the digital marketing game for many nonprofits. Use these efficient (and free!) tools to spread the word about your fundraising opportunities.
There are a few tips to help your organization successfully use digital outreach methods this Giving Tuesday:
Familiarize Yourself With the Many Digital Outreach Tools
Familiarize yourself with the heavy-hitters in this area, including email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Realize that not every digital marketing tool will be a great fit for your organization, and that if you’re trying to juggle them all, you’re likely to drop the ball.
Choose one or two methods that best fit your organization’s messaging.
For example, if you place a high value on storytelling, choose email newsletters and Instagram as your main points of digital contact, since both allow for long text blocks and a variety of images. Or, if you need to share a campaign across a broad audience — and quickly — consider Twitter or Facebook for their easy sharing abilities.
Personalize Your Communications
Research shows that digital outreach can be a powerful force in encouraging donors to give to your cause. However, if used incorrectly, it can have the opposite effect.
Recent data shows that only 9% of modern donors are moved by direct communications to give. Donors are increasingly resistant to ingenuine, ad-heavy communications that cast a broad net. When you communicate with your community through digital methods, you must keep it personal.
Don’t use templates or go too ad-heavy when posting to your social media. Instead, use it as a space to highlight the work you’re doing in the community through stories, photos and videos. Further, when you contact community members directly through digital methods, something as simple as calling them by their name can go a long way!
Begin Communication Early and Often
Another factor that can lead to a lack of donor response to direct, digital communications is that many nonprofits are only reaching out when it’s time to give.
Gone are the days of sending out a single year-end fundraising appeal rallying donations for your Giving Tuesday push. Now, the most successful method is to build up to your donation appeal, even weeks in advance.
Begin building your foundation by presenting the work of impactful volunteers and game-changing donations. Then, inform donors of your Giving Tuesday initiative — after you’ve proven that their engagement will be put to good use.
2. Host a Fun, Community-Building Event
At the end of the year, donors get flooded with gift asks from nonprofits looking to fundraise through the season. It’s understandable — after all, you want to do the same — but you need to work to stand out from this crowd of worthy organizations!
A community-building event raises needed donations while inviting your community to unite through the process. It’s a great alternative to the traditional year-end fundraising methods!
It stands whether you’re looking for sports team fundraising ideas, school fundraising ideas or even just general community engagement for your nonprofit.
Giving Tuesday marks the official start of the year-end giving season, so the perfect opportunity to incorporate a community-building event is already built-in. Use an event to kick off the fundraising season!
Consider the following #GivingTuesday kick-off events to engage your community:
Giving Tuesday occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, a holiday associated with increased gratitude. What better way to give this appreciation back to the community than through a volunteer community clean-up?
Invite volunteers to separate into teams in advance of the event. Then, empower groups to raise peer-to-peer donations in support of their efforts leading up to the event. You’ll read about this type of fundraiser in more detail later in the piece.
Just days prior, donors gathered with their family members in celebration of Thanksgiving. Invite donors to a community picnic in celebration of the season! Provide tickets in exchange for a small donation and kick-off your year-end fundraising season on Giving Tuesday.
Encourage donors to exercise following the carb-loading just days before with a fitness-based fundraising event. Draw on pledge-based fundraising methods to raise donations.
3. Offer a Variety of Ways to Give Back
Though Giving Tuesday is the biggest opportunity of the year for nonprofits to raise needed donations, you have a better chance of engaging your entire community if you offer a variety of ways to give toward your cause.
There are plenty of reasons why community members may not want to give through a financial donation. Perhaps they’re not in a financial position to do so during the holiday season, or they’re reluctant to provide money for whatever reason. Still, you should make an effort to engage with all of your community members during the year-end fundraising season.
One easy way to do so is by offering alternative fundraising methods, such as the shoe drive fundraiser.
Simply invite your community to search their closets and donate new and gently used running shoes to your organization. Then, you mail the collected shoes to your shoe drive facilitator and wait for a corresponding check in the mail!
Learn more through this Sneakers4Funds explainer on how to donate running shoes.
With a shoe drive fundraiser, community members can contribute, whether they’re interested in doing so financially or not. However, don’t stop there — offering a variety of ways to give, beyond just providing non-financial ways, helps you engage the whole community. You should also optimize your donation collection processes to accept all giving types.
Ensure your online donation form and payment processor accepts both credit/debit card gifts as well as direct deposit/ACH payments. That way, you’re ready to handle the deluge of donations from engaged community members on Giving Tuesday.
4. Empower Your Community to Work on Your Behalf
Another great way to engage your community this Giving Tuesday is by providing opportunities for highly involved contributors to work on your behalf.
The previously mentioned methods were ways to initiate communication with donors and provide them with different ways of giving to your cause — whether financially or through other gifts. However, some contributors will want to take their giving a step further. Empower them to do so, and watch your reach grow!
There are two easy ways you can empower your community to work on your behalf this year-end season:
Create Processes for Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Peer-to-peer fundraising is the process through which contributors source gifts from their personal networks to give to your cause.
The process is simple: Your organization creates a peer-to-peer fundraising page and enables donors to create personal pages in conjunction with it. These donors then share their pages with their friends and family, who donate to the page in support. These donations get directed to your organization.
Not only is peer-to-peer valuable in passing the donation-raising power to your contributors and raising more donations through that, but it’s also powerful in its exposure. This type of fundraising allows you to expand your network beyond your original community.
Provide Opportunities to Volunteer
If you’re hosting any in-person community outreach or fundraising event for Giving Tuesday, you’re going to need a workforce to fuel the effort.
Instead of leaning exclusively on your nonprofit’s staff, encourage your community to participate in the effort. Not only do you achieve much-appreciated help putting on your in-person events, but you also engage potential future donors in the process.
Though volunteers may not be giving to your fundraiser (instead, helping host it), you’re cultivating relationships now that could lead to future gifts. Further, with programs such as volunteer grants, you may secure a financial gift corresponding to this time given!
Check out Double the Donation’s guide to volunteer management for tips to guide your volunteer program.
5. Demonstrate the Results of Community Involvement
Fundraising is trending toward a reliance on full transparency and honesty in creating an engaged community.
Donors want to see the impact of their contributions. It functions to build trust in donors — that you’re not deceitfully using their engagement — and to motivate them to give toward future efforts. What’s more inspiring than seeing your gifts in action?
Consider the best online fundraising campaigns in this list. What do they all have in common?
They use efficient online donation processes, and they rely heavily on visual and textual storytelling.
There are a few ways you can demonstrate the effects of your community’s involvement:
- Share the story of a particularly generous community member, explaining what inspired them to get involved.
- Example: “This donor contributed X to our nonprofit. Let them tell you why.”
- Share the story of a particularly effective initiative completed by your nonprofit and highlight how community engagement helped fuel it.
- Example: “Last month, we donated X supplies to underserved populations in our community. This is how your gifts directly contributed.”
Across all of your communication channels, clearly demonstrate the importance of your community’s involvement and your nonprofit’s gratitude in response.
From hosting a community-wide event to providing a variety of ways for supporters to give back, there are many easy (and fun!) ways to engage your community and celebrate the start of the holiday giving season.
Use any of the above ideas, or a combination of a few, to make the most of Giving Tuesday. Happy fundraising!
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.