Resources Hub » Blog » Don’t Miss Out on Giving Tuesday This Holiday Season

Brands aren’t the only organizations who can take advantage of the money flowing throughout the winter holiday season. After the madness of Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday emerges to encourage consumers to break from the buying and give back.

Like brands, NGOs and nonprofits have quarterly and year-end goals to meet. Also like brands, they can capitalize on social media and email marketing to communicate with donors and reach new audiences in order to drive in more donations than ever before.

What is Giving Tuesday exactly? In this post, we’ll explain the basics. We’ll also provide strategies and tips for nonprofits to make the most of their marketing strategy this holiday season.

What is Giving Tuesday?

While Black Friday is the unofficial start of the holiday buying season, Giving Tuesday—and don’t forget the accompanying custom hashtag, #GivingTuesday—is the unofficial beginning of the winter holiday giving season.

Marketers know better than anyone that the holiday buying season has slowly expanded each year. In 2012, 92 Street Y and the United Nations Foundation decided to do something about the fast-paced consumer-driven nature and #GivingTuesday was born.

Individuals, nonprofits, NGOs, and even brands come together under the hashtag #GivingTuesday to launch specialized donation campaigns and raise money for important causes.

#GivingTuesday takes place every year on the Tuesday after American Thanksgiving.

Is it effective?

#GivingTuesday sounds nice on paper, but what do the numbers say?

According to nonprofit software company Blackbaud, $10 million moved through its platform during the first #GivingTuesday in 2012—bringing online giving up 90% from the previous year.

In 2013, $28 million exchanged hands-on #GivingTuesday over the top five nonprofit software platforms. Donations continued to increase every year as more organizations like Kickstarter, the Gates Foundation, and PayPal got involved, often matching donations and running promotions.

As of 2018, platforms recorded $400 million in total donations with $125 moving through Facebook alone and PayPal matching $7 million.

Yeah, it’s a lot of money.

However, whether or not Giving Tuesday is effective depends on how you market your organization during the holiday.

How nonprofits can maximize exposure with marketing strategies for Giving Tuesday

Your marketing for #GivingTuesday (and the rest of the holiday season) can make the difference between hitting your year-end goals or falling seriously short.

Plus, with the right marketing strategy, you can keep the momentum going all year long and reduce spot-givers.

Get creative to break through the noise.

Statistically, Giving Tuesday is actually a bad time to encourage donations. Think about it: everyone’s inbox is already flooded with #GivingTuesday appeals.

If you run a smaller NGO, you don’t have to get frustrated and write off the holiday completely. Instead, think of unique and interesting ways to make your campaigns stand out before Giving Tuesday arrives.

Contests and user-generated content are great for donations. With emails, it’s important to optimize your subject line with urgent and intriguing messages to ensure your message stands out.

Consider teaming up with other organizations.

NGOs and nonprofits can expand their audiences by partnering with brands or other nonprofits during #GivingTuesday. The #GivingTuesday website offers an entire PDF dedicated to high-profile collaboration efforts for the holiday season.

If you want to collaborate with fellow NGOs, look for local organizations in your area that share a similar mission.

Brands can also help you spread the message and boost other organizations that share their values and core mission. Some brands who share your values may be willing to share a percentage of the day’s profits or at least amplify your promotion through social media and email.

Get specific about where donations will go.

It’s important you put plenty of thought into your email and social media campaign copy for Giving Tuesday. But don’t be afraid to keep your plan to yourself: Instead, get descriptive with not only your CTA but exactly where the donations will go.

Since nonprofits and NGOs aren’t selling a physical product, it’s important to help your audience visualize how you’ll use their donations. Describe a specific problem in detail. Provide statistics and highlight one person or family’s story if possible.

For example, the Middle East Children’s Alliance sent an email out to previous donors addressed from its main director, and it was written like a letter. Not only that but the email details which project MECA needs the money for and exactly how much they need to accomplish it.

Integrate your campaign across multiple platforms.

While #GivingTuesday is largely a social media phenomenon, most people don’t choose to actually donate through these platforms. It’s true that donations through Facebook are increasing on #GivingTuesday, but you don’t want to strictly rely on social media to meet your donation goals.

Instead, use social media to your advantage. Schedule contests, photos, and partnerships to increase brand awareness, build trust, and educate people about your organization.

You can also use social media to generate leads through website visits and email list signups. When the holiday season ends, you’ll be able to continue contacting them without fighting social media algorithms.

Email marketing is where it’s at.

If your nonprofit isn’t devoting time and energy to email marketing, you’re missing out on a valuable channel to drive donations, build rapport with your donors, and keep your cause top of mind. In fact, nonprofits enjoy a much higher average open rate than consumer brands: 26% compared to 6%.

Email gives you a direct line of communication with your leads and donors—something social media can’t provide.

Plus, automation tools can help you guide your leads through a gentle donation funnel to introduce them to your organization and how your organization changes lives.

Personalize your content.

You don’t have to send the same email campaign to all of your subscribers this Giving Tuesday.

Break your subscriber list into segments based on different factors. When nonprofits segment their list, they should begin with categories like:

  • Recurring donors
  • Frequent donors
  • Members
  • Volunteers
  • Newsletter recipients

For donations, you can further break your list up for #GivingTuesday based on behavioral data, interests, and location. Segmented campaigns can deliver 760% more revenue than generic emails because they’re more relevant.

Include interactive content and multimedia.

Emails that contain video improve click rates between 200% and 300%. Meanwhile, people who view a video in email are 64% more likely to complete a transaction. Just make sure to mention that your email contains a video in the subject line.

Use infographics to explain why you need donations and where donations go. Make videos to introduce your team and the people you help. Make your subscribers feel like part of the organization.

For example, below is an infographic we made based on nonprofit benchmarks:

nonprofit benchmarks infographic

Write for one person.

Nonprofit emails are most effective when they’re written for one person. You’re not talking to thousands of people. That could accidentally trigger the bystander effect and reduce your donation potential.

Instead, write your email copy as though you’re talking to a friend. You could even address your email from one person at your organization to make it seem more like a personal message.

Carefully plan an automated nurturing strategy for spot-givers.

While the extra donations are nice on Giving Tuesday, spot-givers can throw off your marketing efforts and donation funnel throughout the rest of the year. After all, what is Giving Tuesday good for if it only provides a small boost in donations?

You can avoid spot-givers in the first place by creating highly personalized and targeted ads on social media. These measures will ensure you reach people who are truly interested in your mission.

However, you can easily create an automated nurturing strategy for spot-givers throughout the rest of the year. Use CRM data to gain insights about their interests and create personalized campaigns for them year-round.

Move spot-givers to their own email segment. Instead of focusing mainly on donation appeals, devote time to creating relevant and interesting content for them such as blog posts, press releases, and current event articles.

Get Your Gifts Matched

Most corporate employers have programs in place to match donations made by employees to nonprofit organizations. However, there is often a disconnect between donors and their knowledge of these programs.

Nearly 78% of donors are match-eligible for matching gift programs, but they have no idea. This leads to nonprofits missing out on additional dollars that can push them closer to their fundraising goals.

Here are a few ways to inform donors that they can double their contribution to nonprofits:

  • Donation pages – Take advantage of the peak of donor engagement. Encourage donors to check if their employers have matching gift programs.
  • Thank you emails – Promote gift matching in your acknowledgment letters to help further your cause.
  • Matching gift tools – Share matching gift tools with donors so that they can verify if their employers have matching gift programs. These tools will be especially helpful for the upcoming #GivingTuesday.
  • Dedicated donation page – Give donors options on how they can support your organization. Include matching gift programs, as a way to increase the donations your organization receives.

What about brands?

Brands can also capitalize on the Giving Tuesday hype to boost sales, website visits, exposure, and raise money for an amazing cause that’s close to their heart.

  • Partner with or choose an NGO or nonprofit that fits with your brand values.
  • Plan a donation strategy.
  • Promote your #GivingTuesday promotion through social media and email.

Wrap up

Giving Tuesday is an effective tool for nonprofits and NGOs to capitalize on the generous spirit of the holiday season with social media and email campaigns. Remember to:

  • Find a way to make your marketing campaign stand out.
  • Be descriptive in your marketing and write for one person.
  • Plan an automated nurturing strategy for the rest of the year.

By maximizing your email marketing efforts and integrating them with social media and your landing pages, you can boost your donations during the year-end holiday season and all year long.

Just like brands, nonprofits can build loyal relationships with donors through data. Learn how you can enhance your nonprofit’s email marketing with CRM data.


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This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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