The holiday season inspires a certain sense of altruism. Around the world, it’s a season of giving thanks — and often a time for paying this thankfulness forward, too.
No day embodies this more than #GivingTuesday, held on the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Inspired by the good done unto them— whether due to a particularly tasty holiday feast or maybe even a productive Black Friday— donors are ready to contribute to positive change in their communities.
#GivingTuesday is one of the most impactful days of the year for nonprofit fundraising, and the numbers are certainly there to back up these claims. Just last year, #GivingTuesday impacted over 150 countries. Through 3.6 million online gifts, the movement was able to generate over $400 million in donations!
As the holiday season approaches, you’ll need to make sure your nonprofit is primed to host a successful #GivingTuesday campaign. There are a few strategies sure to help you in the process:
- Assess your nonprofit’s current fundraising abilities.
- Consider upgrading your donor management tools.
- Offer effective donation options in both the digital and physical realms.
- Research your donors in advance.
- Focus on relationship-building in addition to soliciting donations.
#GivingTuesday is a massive opportunity to reach your nonprofit’s fundraising goals, and it’s vital that you’re prepared with an effective fundraising strategy. Read on for a breakdown of the tips listed above.
1. Assess your nonprofit’s current fundraising abilities.
Because #GivingTuesday is the single most impactful day during the busiest fundraising season of the calendar year, preparation is not to be approached lightly. In order to successfully capitalize on this event, it’s essential that you prepare thoroughly.
This starts with an assessment of your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. You should look at previous processes used (considering what worked and what could use improvement) as well as any structural limitations your nonprofit may have with fundraising going forward. Here are a few questions for you to consider in your assessment:
- Do you have a clearly outlined mission statement for donors to support? Have you been successful with this statement in the past?
- Is your existing donor-facing content, such as your website, error-free and easy to navigate? Is it easy for your team to make necessary edits and upgrades as needed?
- Have your campaigns stayed within budget in the past? Have you set a realistic budget for future fundraising, or does it need adjustment?
- Which fundraising channels have worked best for you in the past, in terms of both total donations and donor acquisition? Which didn’t?
- Do you have software in place capable of handling a large influx of donations and the accompanying data? If not, do you have a plan in place to handle it?
While conducting a full assessment of your nonprofit’s fundraising abilities may seem like a massive undertaking, the above list should give you a good starting point.
Once completed, you’ll see that the benefits of a pre-assessment are endless. Allowing you to identify any existing issues in your fundraising strategy, which you can then fix before they become bigger issues— an evaluation of your nonprofit’s current capabilities allows you to head into the holiday fundraising season (relatively) stress-free!
2. Consider upgrading your donor management tools.
#GivingTuesday means a large influx of donations in a really short— and busy— period of time. The generosity of donors during the holiday season is unmatched, and you want to be well-equipped for handling it!
With millions of gifts coming through online methods, you should make sure your toolkit is up to par. While there’s nothing wrong with manual records (besides all the hard work and risk of human error!), it may be time to consider employing software to handle it for you. There are two types of software that could be particularly helpful:
- An internet-based donation platform: An online fundraising platform including benefits such as customized online donation forms, easy facilitation of P2P fundraising, automated thank-you emails, and centralized dashboards for handling all of this information can drastically improve your handling of digital donations.
- A robust constituent management system: A more comprehensive CRM platform allows you to automatically create profiles for your donors, keep track of their previous donations, and view real-time data and analysis. These features make it easier than ever to make informed decisions about your fundraising strategy.
By automating some of your fundraising processes and data management, you can both gain new insights on your donor base and re-allocate the saved time toward other important functions, such as relationship-building!
3. Offer effective donation options in both the digital and physical realms.
As people head home for the holidays, it’s important that you offer secure donation options wherever that home may be. Whether a donor is in your town or across the world, you want to make sure they have easy access to giving tools!
This can be accomplished by creating a trustworthy online donation tool for donors far and wide to access. Look for a platform that allows you to seamlessly embed your custom branded donation form right on your website. This will help to ensure that donors feel secure as they complete their donation.
For further information online donation methods, check out these top picks from DonorSearch.
That being said, while it might be tempting to go fully digital in your donation methods— it’s still important to offer off-the-web options for donors as well.
While online giving is certainly growing and becoming a substantial “piece of the pie” of total giving, it’s still just a piece. Therefore, it’s important that you not only include physical solicitation methods such as direct mail giving, but that you be able to easily accept cash and check gifts as well.
The main idea here is that you make options available for those that prefer to give digitally and those that prefer to give through paper methods, and that you optimize those options to be as easy-to-navigate as possible.
4. Research your donors in advance.
Those in the nonprofit sector are well aware of the power of #GivingTuesday, and that means there will be many groups introducing campaigns right around the same time as you. How do you stand out in a sea of good causes?
One way is to make sure you are effectively maximizing your resources by targeting prospective donors that are most likely to donate to your organization. That means it’s time to research! There are three types of fundraising analytics to consider:
- Descriptive fundraising analytics: describes the behavior of your donors, classifying them into groups based on their interactions with your organization, like their history of giving or volunteering.
- Predictive fundraising analytics: uses past data on your donors and predicts their future behavior. If a donor consistently gives more each time, that’s a trend worth focusing on.
- Prescriptive fundraising analytics: looks at your predictive fundraising data to determine what plan of action you should pursue in order to take advantage of new opportunities.
You must begin by segmenting your donor base using characteristics such as frequency of giving, gift size, and preferred method of donation, to name a few. Further, and especially for your mid-range or larger donors, you should look at both wealth and philanthropic indicators, noting both the ability of a donor to give and their desire to do so.
You can then use this information to make predictions about your donor base using any patterns you see emerge. Is there a certain demographic that is more likely to donate than others?
Using these predictions, you can create a game plan for targeting donors most likely to contribute to your organization. By researching your donors in advance, you’ve optimized your entire fundraising strategy. Now, you’re saving time contacting prospects and enjoying a higher success rate when doing so!
For more examples and context around translating those data insights into campaign strategies, check out this guide.
5. Focus on relationship-building in addition to soliciting donations.
Fundraising isn’t an act of blunt-force solicitation but rather of building lifelong relationships with donors. This is particularly important to remember during the holiday season!
The holidays are all about gathering with loved ones and giving thanks for those relationships. In contacting donors with your #GivingTuesday pitch, it’s important to emphasize the connection a donor will be making with your organization and the lifelong benefits this relationship will have for your cause. Check out a few best practices below:
- Begin planning the event a few months in advance and start promotion in early November.
#GivingTuesday is the most important fundraising day for nonprofits, so promotion should be taken seriously! You should aim to begin planning a few months in advance to give your team plenty of time to create a strong campaign.
Because it’s not uncommon for people to power down technology during the holidays, and there’s no denying that advertising increases across the board during the gift-giving season, you should start promoting your campaign early as well! Starting to heavily market your initiative in early November ensures you don’t get lost in the commotion.
- Use positive messaging.
End-of-year giving has a major positive effect on nonprofits through funding their work throughout the entire next year. Make sure that the communications you’re sending to donors reflect the positive effect their contributions will have on the mission they are investing in! This is especially important if your campaign will be for your annual fund rather than a specific project.
- Focus on the impact of donations, being as specific as possible.
The best way to show donors that their contribution matters is by showing them exactly what their funds benefit! If your campaign is centered around a core project, include plenty of specific details on what exactly those donations will be accomplishing in the coming year.
- Consider extending #GivingTuesday to have year-round benefits.
Many nonprofits are fueled by the funds raised through year-end fundraising campaigns. Consider approaching donors with sustaining gift options— such as recurring monthly donations— to keep the fundraising momentum going throughout the next year. Offering special incentives for new recurring donors can be an effective way to bolster your budget all year.
- Don’t forget the “after.”
Just as it’s important to approach donors with a positive, future-reaching attitude when you first solicit a donation, it’s equally—if not more-important to follow up with a grateful acknowledgement afterward! Doing so ensures you build a relationship with the donor beyond that first single donation, with lasting potential for years to come.
For more best practices on soliciting funds, check out Double the Donation’s tips for asking for donations.
#GivingTuesday is one of the largest days for nonprofit online fundraising, and if your nonprofit is participating, you need to make sure you’re well-prepared for this year’s event!
Through completing a bit of pre-research and optimizing your fundraising methods, you’re sure to build a successful fundraising campaign in time for the holiday season. Happy fundraising!