Expert Insights: GivingTuesday and Beyond with Woodrow Rosenbaum

Each year, the Blackbaud Institute invites leading experts in the world of social good to reflect on current trends, giving insights to stay ahead of the curve. The latest edition, npEXPERTS—Game-Changers: How to Galvanize Supporters as Charitable Events Evolve, answers your most burning questions on the evolving landscape of fundraising events. In this article, we share insights from contributor Woodrow Rosenbaum, Chief Data Officer at GivingTuesday, who analyzed what the charitable event space will need to thrive through the prospect of a global recession. As Rosenbaum shares, “There are some important learnings from past GivingTuesdays, and the state of generosity in general, that can help us navigate economic uncertainties to remain more resilient—and even prosper. Findings about giving from the annual global day of generosity reveal key lessons about how to engage givers all year.” Read on to learn more from Rosenbaum about how your organization can engage supporters not only through this “giving season” but also beyond.

What GivingTuesday Teaches Us About Year-Round Giving

The opportunity for our sector to be more resilient and to thrive lies in our ability to embrace giving in all its forms—meeting and inspiring a community of givers on their terms. If we can bring to our practice more of what works on GivingTuesday for the rest of the year, that future is within our grasp.

Our examination of giving behaviors and results on GivingTuesday each year have highlighted these important and consistent trends:

  • Leveling the Playing Field
    Small organizations, who unsurprisingly receive the smallest share of GivingTuesday dollars, do at least twice as well on GivingTuesday compared to the rest of the year. These grassroots charities have fewer resources to leverage on GivingTuesday compared to larger organizations, and yet, they’re able to achieve fundraising results more than twice the usual level. Understanding what’s working for small, community-based organizations is critically important as we’ve seen them most impacted by the stress and turmoil the sector has faced since the onset of COVID.
  • Bringing in New Givers
    Our analysis of donations, and that of our donor platform partners, has shown that GivingTuesday has always been highly engaging, driving a spike in donations and donors that consistently meets or surpasses December 31 levels, as thousands of organizations come together to celebrate generosity and inspire their supporters. Over the years, we have seen that donors engaged on GivingTuesday are retained at higher rates and increase their giving at a faster pace. The day is also an important driver of donor acquisition.
  • Research has shown that organizations with a broad base of support, including smaller donors, are more resilient to economic shocks. This is going to be critically important, as we are now seeing a return to the pre-pandemic trend of a consolidation of charitable giving from a shrinking pool of high-value donors.
  • Diversifying Engagement
    The giving landscape on GivingTuesday has always looked somewhat different than the rest of the year. Although participation is strong across demographics, it’s particularly engaging with younger donors; crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns are especially common; donors support more causes and are more likely to become fundraisers; and giving transcends transactional dollars-focused fundraising by embracing many different ways to give. The vast majority of donors on GivingTuesday are taking other generous actions, in addition to directly donating money. This is unusual only through the nonprofit sector fundraising lens. In fact, this more diverse behavior is much more in keeping with how most people give all year.
  • Generosity Is Abundant
    Over the past year, we have been looking at the myriad ways that people give to address pressing issues, support causes they care about, and build the communities and world they wish to live in. Our goal is an expanded horizon of generosity based on a rethinking of how we measure giving. What is clear from this initial work is that despite a renewed trend of fewer charitable donors, giving is not in decline. Embracing a broader community of givers across a broader range of giving actions, as we observe on GivingTuesday, has the potential to inspire more giving throughout the year.

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Critically, we have seen repeatedly that giving moments and mechanisms are not competitive or cannibalistic. People who engage in giving outside of the nonprofit economy also tend to be more generous and supportive of charitable organizations. In fact, the best indicator that someone will take action for good is that they practice some other generous behavior.

For the full article, alongside insights from other industry experts, visit npEXPERTS 2022.