Giving Tuesday is right around the corner. Does your nonprofit have a plan?

What is #GivingTuesday?

Here in the United States, the Friday after Thanksgiving has become known as “Black Friday“– it’s the day many retailers sell so much that they end the year “in the black.” A few years back, online retailers decided to jump on this wave of sales by creating “Cyber Monday,” the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Since most of these purchases are for gift giving, many nonprofit folks (and social media geeks) decided to test out “Giving Tuesday” on the Tuesday after the US Thanksgiving. I remember celebrating this in 2011, and the hashtag #charitytuesday has been around since at least 2009, but the site says that the first annual Giving Tuesday was in 2012. Social media users tagged updates with the hashtag #GivingTuesday to help their posts stand out.

The results? Pretty impressive. The Huffington Post says that Giving Tuesday spurred 113% more donations than the previous year. Of course up until then, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was fairly unremarkable. So that may mean the average nonprofit went from no donations to one donation! But as you can see from the infographic below, nonprofits raised some real money. And the average online gift jumped from around $62 to just over $100 on Giving Tuesday.

CLICK TO ENLARGE #GivingTuesday Infographic from the Huffington Post

Jumpstart your year-end fundraising

It’s a well known fact that we are now entering the most charitable time of the year. Not only do the holidays celebrate giving, but December 31 is a powerful deadline. Many nonprofits receive 30% to 50% of their budget in the final days of December.

One of the biggest mistakes I saw nonprofits make last year was to bombard our inboxes with stupid, “There’s still time left” emails almost daily in the last week of December. As Google’s recent study shows, donors are actually planning their year-end giving in September, not the last week in December. (Download Google’s study here.)

It’s a pre-made excuse to ask

One thing I love about #GivingTuesday is that it’s a “pre-made excuse” to ask. This is something other organizations are doing, and something other media outlets are partnering with. So it’s incredibly easy for a nonprofit to jump on board. And there’s really no risk.

To develop a simple no-fuss plan in the next two weeks, I would:

  • Identify something specific your nonprofit needs

    Make it something already in the budget, something that any additional money will help offset.

  • Make sure your “donate” page is ridiculously easy to find and to link to

    Many nonprofits’ donation pages have messy URLs. Make sure yours is easy to get to. And while you’re there, make a gift yourself to see if there are any kinks in your online platform.

  • Get a match

    Matches are powerful motivators. Donors love to know their gift will be used to inspire others to give. And givers love to know their $10 is resulting in $20 going to the nonprofit. And they make it much easier for nonprofits to keep reminding people. “Give today” is much less effective than “Yay! We only have $250 to go on the match.” If you don’t have a short list of donors that like to make matching gifts, ask your board to each pledge $100 or $1000. Then you can say, “Our board is matching the first $1,000 [or $10,000] given.”

  • Alert your social media advocates

    Notice I didn’t say, “Post an update on Facebook.” I mean contact the people that retweet and share your stuff the most. These may also be the people saying, “Why aren’t you tweeting more?” Ask them if they’d start letting people know about the #GivingTuesday fundraising push on December 3.

  • Look around to see what media outlets are reporting on #GivingTuesday

    This is a great time to partner with them. Don’t brag about your project alone. Instead, brag about all the projects in the community that are jumping on this #GivingTuesday phenomena. This will make it more “news-worthy” for media outlets.

  • Get creative about updating people on the goal

    You could have short videos recorded from a cell phone building up to #GivingTuesday. You could now post updates on your Facebook page. You could look around to see what others are doing. And you could check out the resources at

Of course, you could get far more sophisticated. The most successful online fundraising is organized and planned out with the same specificity as a special event: having a core volunteer team, using marketing and communications, creating compelling messages. These are best planned out weeks and months in advance. But the list above will get you started.

More #GivingTuesday Fundraising Ideas

Check out these pages for more ideas on how to harness #GivingTuesday:

How is your nonprofit planning to capitalize on #GivingTuesday?

What are you doing to make the most of this fun day? Let us know below in the comments!

Did you come across this post while looking for a charity to support on #GivingTuesday? C.C. Chapman and I have been keeping the #GivingTuesday idea alive all year by highlighting great nonprofits each week at Check out the #GivingTuesday posts.

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