This past Tuesday, December 3, was the 8th year of #GivingTuesday. This is a global day of generosity and celebration of charities. Early reports estimate that $1.97B was raised this year with $511M given online compared to $380M on #GivingTuesday 2018—nearly a 35% growth!
We guided many of our Generis clients through #GivingTuesday initiatives by developing marketing plans, scripting emails and text messages, storyboarding promotional videos, and assisting with setting aggressive yet achievable goals for the day.
What did we learn based on their performance?
Organizations with matching challenges did better than organizations that lacked them. The three most successful initiatives I coached this year each had a significant match, typically up to 50% of their goal. These three organizations exceeded their goal by 115%, 128%, and 210% respectively! A matching challenge drives urgency. It gives donors a reason to give on this day and to this organization rather than on other days and to other organizations.
Giving to specific, tangible projects was more successful than attempting to raise general support. I worked with one school client to “fill the seats on the bus” for a new school transportation vehicle. As the day progressed, we were able to fill each seat on the vehicle until all the seats were filled. The initiative was so successful that we added a second vehicle in the afternoon and filled it as well. Donors give to impact, and specific projects lend themselves to demonstrating tangible results.
Advanced communication is key to building excitement around an initiative. Social media drip campaigns were generally successful; giving teasers 3, 2, and then 1 week before #GivingTuesday helped prepare donors for the project. If the only day an organization posted about their initiative was on #GivingTuesday, then these announcements tended to get lost in the cacophony and clutter of the day. Those organizations, in contrast, that gave their social media followers the “heads up” on what they were promoting were able to cut through the noise since their supporters were on the lookout for their initiatives. Some even gave before the day.
Many organizations started the day of giving well with initial gifts but lost momentum as the day wore on. Exhaustion typically hits around 3 PM, so how can organizations keep the energy and enthusiasm for the day growing? The most successful initiatives did two activities to maintain momentum—regular updates on the progress towards reaching the goal and timed gifts. The regular updates were most effectively given every 3 hours and in different media, e.g., Facebook Live updates, creative visuals, different voices from the organization. Moreover, weeks before the day, the most successful organizations arranged for key supporters, especially those with significant social media followings, to make and announce gifts at various points in the day. These gifts would be given and then promoted throughout the day, strategically timed at lull points, to maintain the energy of the initiatives.
More #GivingTuesday oriented peer-to-peer fundraisers took place this year than any past year. Organizations enlisted individuals not only to give to their organization but to sponsor personal fundraising challenges that would function as a mini campaign within the larger initiative.
Finally, thanking well and often was critical. One client thanked their supporters throughout the day and saw bumps in giving after each thanking post. Another client decided not to actively solicit gifts on #GivingTuesday (it isn’t for every organization!) but chose rather to post thank you messages to their supporters throughout the day. They received a number of gifts even without asking.
Generis is proud to support its clients’ #GivingTuesday and year-end giving initiatives as we advance the great work they are doing to transform our world.