Is Giving Tuesday good for your fundraising?

I really don’t want to criticize anything that encourages people to make charitable gifts. That’s a good and important goal.

But I do think most nonprofits should think twice before throwing in their lot with Giving Tuesday (which, in case you live on a frozen asteroid and haven’t heard, it today). It’s an attempt to create a national day of giving, and it’s getting a lot of traction.

That’s happening because so many nonprofits have jumped on the Giving Tuesday bandwagon (more than 8,000, according to the website), along with everyone from President Obama to Bill Gates. Many are going all out to make the day a big one, doing things like …


  • Posting on social media for several days leading up to Giving Tuesday.
  • Sending out emails reminding donors that Giving Tuesday is coming up.
  • Making it a prominent feature on their websites for days or even weeks ahead of the event.

All of those tactics are things you’d do if your goal were to support Giving Tuesday.

But that is not your goal (unless you are at the Giving Tuesday organization). Your goal is to raise funds for your organization. Using your time and resources to support Giving Tuesday is misfeasance, unless you’re better off on the bandwagon than off.

A way to tell whether you’re better on or off is to ask which fundraising offer is stronger for you:


  1. Give to our organization because it’s Giving Tuesday.
  2. Give to accomplish something specific through our organization.

For most professionally built fundraising programs, #2 is the clear answer. But not for all. If you are not able (or not allowed) to articulate your work in the form of donor-facing fundraising offers, Giving Tuesday might give you a boost.

Anyway, there’s another Giving Tuesday that’s even more likely to boost your efforts: Tuesday, December 31. The biggest day of the fundraising year. That’s where you can really raise some funds.


Comments

6 responses to “Is Giving Tuesday good for your fundraising?”

  1. This is Kiera from CARE. As a member of our web team and the social media lead, I really enjoyed reading this post – especially the part where you breakdown the main error organizations make in thinking that people will donate simply because it’s #GivingTuesday. While CARE did solicit donations as part of our year-end matching gift program, we saw #GivingTuesday as more of an engagement opportunity, and a way to give back ourselves by giving thanks to our loyal donors. We hosted our second annual employee phone bank where more than 90 employees at our Atlanta headquarters called over 1,500 donors not to ask for money, just to say thank you. The results were really touching, and I think really pulled our employees out of their day-to-day tasks to see the impact CARE has from a new perspective.
    On our website, email and on social we were a little more traditional. We created this page http://www.care.org/get-involved/giving-tuesday and solicited donations as part of our year-end matching gift campaign that we started promoting the week of Thanksgiving. But the primary asks on email and on social were to engage by sharing CARE’s story and mission with friends. I think it was important to show our constituents that we know the meaning of giving isn’t just a monetary donation. #GivingTuesday is more than just opening wallets, it’s taking the time to learn about charitable initiatives, spreading the word about those that are meaningful to you and determining your own level of involvement, monetary or otherwise. I think our constituents really got that and appreciated that we see them as more than just potential cash cows.

  2. This is Kiera from CARE. As a member of our web team and the social media lead, I really enjoyed reading this post – especially the part where you breakdown the main error organizations make in thinking that people will donate simply because it’s #GivingTuesday. While CARE did solicit donations as part of our year-end matching gift program, we saw #GivingTuesday as more of an engagement opportunity, and a way to give back ourselves by giving thanks to our loyal donors. We hosted our second annual employee phone bank where more than 90 employees at our Atlanta headquarters called over 1,500 donors not to ask for money, just to say thank you. The results were really touching, and I think really pulled our employees out of their day-to-day tasks to see the impact CARE has from a new perspective.
    On our website, email and on social we were a little more traditional. We created this page http://www.care.org/get-involved/giving-tuesday and solicited donations as part of our year-end matching gift campaign that we started promoting the week of Thanksgiving. But the primary asks on email and on social were to engage by sharing CARE’s story and mission with friends. I think it was important to show our constituents that we know the meaning of giving isn’t just a monetary donation. #GivingTuesday is more than just opening wallets, it’s taking the time to learn about charitable initiatives, spreading the word about those that are meaningful to you and determining your own level of involvement, monetary or otherwise. I think our constituents really got that and appreciated that we see them as more than just potential cash cows.

  3. Great post Jeff! I went into detail a couple of weeks back in a post I did about why Giving Tuesday is the wrong focus for most non-profits:
    http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/fundraising-ideas/avoid-giving-tuesday/
    I think this line from your post sums it up nicely: “Using your time and resources to support Giving Tuesday is misfeasance, unless you’re better off on the bandwagon than off.” Time and resources are scarce at most organizations, so we need to be thinking about ROI and stewarding our time wisely.
    Thanks Jeff!

  4. Great post Jeff! I went into detail a couple of weeks back in a post I did about why Giving Tuesday is the wrong focus for most non-profits:
    http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/fundraising-ideas/avoid-giving-tuesday/
    I think this line from your post sums it up nicely: “Using your time and resources to support Giving Tuesday is misfeasance, unless you’re better off on the bandwagon than off.” Time and resources are scarce at most organizations, so we need to be thinking about ROI and stewarding our time wisely.
    Thanks Jeff!

  5. Thanks for this post. The resources that are poured into this one-day event continues to worry me. It’s never felt right and you started the conversation to put this into words. I appreciate that. And you’re right, I also feel like I need to be careful to not criticize giving — it’s all good — and at the same time, there’s something out of whack about this.
    There has to be a better way to amass this level of promotion without it being focused on one day. I will give a nod to those organizations who have year round robust giving programs and use this “day” as one more tactic.
    The state where I live has an organization that has promoted a similar “day for fundraising”. This year, the online website that donors were directed to crashed early in the afternoon and was offline for several hours. It seems weighted toward certain organizations who have figured out a way to “game” the system.

  6. Thanks for this post. The resources that are poured into this one-day event continues to worry me. It’s never felt right and you started the conversation to put this into words. I appreciate that. And you’re right, I also feel like I need to be careful to not criticize giving — it’s all good — and at the same time, there’s something out of whack about this.
    There has to be a better way to amass this level of promotion without it being focused on one day. I will give a nod to those organizations who have year round robust giving programs and use this “day” as one more tactic.
    The state where I live has an organization that has promoted a similar “day for fundraising”. This year, the online website that donors were directed to crashed early in the afternoon and was offline for several hours. It seems weighted toward certain organizations who have figured out a way to “game” the system.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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