How not to feel like a failure next Giving Tuesday

Early reports are that Giving Tuesday was huger than ever this year.

Not a surprise, given that almost everything in fundraising has been huge this year.

Which raises the question for next year: “Should we ‘do’ Giving Tuesday?”

Here are my answers:

1. Don’t decide next November. Think about it now.

One of the most common causes of Giving Tuesday Failure is hasty, half-baked strategy and execution, thrown together in the days before the big day, often because someone insisted that you “do” Giving Tuesday.

Decide now. If you’re doing to pursue it, give yourself time to do it right.

2. It’s okay not to do Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday doesn’t work for everyone. If you’ve tried it and it hasn’t done well for you, it may be your donors just aren’t dialed in to the idea. If that’s the case, don’t waste your time.

The real “Giving Tuesday” for most organizations is on a Thursday this year: December 31. That’s the biggest online giving day of the year for many, many organizations, including most that do very well on Giving Tuesday. You almost certainly should “do” December 31!

However, it may be that it hasn’t worked because you haven’t done it right …

3. If you do it, do it right!

The most common mistake organizations make on Giving Tuesday is they don’t actually raise funds. They just send out messages about Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is not a reason to give. It is (for some people) and occasion for giving like birthdays, Christmas, Hannukah, and others.

My inbox was filled with subject lines like Today is Giving Tuesday and messages that went like this: It’s Giving Tuesday, so give us a donation!

That’s not fundraising. Fundraising is giving donors the opportunity to make something happen that they care about. Even on Giving Tuesday. That’s what the organizations that do well are doing.

If your Giving Tuesday fundraising hasn’t worked, take an honest look at it. Is it really fundraising, or is it just telling people to give because it’s a random Tuesday?

4. If it’s working, keep doing it.


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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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