4 Reasons to Start Planning Ahead for Giving Tuesday

Whether you’re brand new to nonprofit work or a veteran of the sector, you’re probably aware that GivingTuesday is one of the most important fundraising days of the year for many nonprofits. In fact, an incredible $2.47 billion was donated to nonprofits on GivingTuesday in 2020.

Because of this major fundraising potential, it’s never too early to start planning for GivingTuesday. This giving day takes place the Tuesday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday each year, meaning you’ve got plenty of time to craft a successful strategy.

As you make your way through this guide, keep in mind that your GivingTuesday strategy shouldn’t only focus on the day itself. Throughout the year, it’s important to conduct plenty of preparation, strategy development, and stewardship efforts to make sure your audience is eager to give when the big day arrives. When you put in the work ahead of time, you can reduce your stress level on GivingTuesday itself and have solid strategies to lean on.

You should start preparing early for GivingTuesday because: 

1. You can create a research-based fundraising strategy. 

It’s easier to move forward when you know where you’ve been. When you start GivingTuesday planning early, you can devote time to crafting a data-driven, evidence-based fundraising strategy with a better chance of success.

Start your planning process by reviewing your current fundraising strategy and performance. Donorly’s fundraising strategy guide recommends analyzing aspects of your past campaigns such as:

  • Most and least successful campaigns and appeal tactics
  • Key fundraising metrics like donor retention rate, donation frequency, and fundraising return on investment (ROI)
  • The level of supporter engagement with each of your marketing platforms
  • The characteristics of your donor base

These metrics provide a comprehensive, bird’s eye view of your organization’s fundraising and outreach efforts that you can use to craft a new strategy.

For example, if you discover your donor retention rate is falling, you can focus more time and resources on donor stewardship in the months leading up to GivingTuesday to boost retention. Or, you may notice your donor base is trending toward a certain demographic, such as younger donors or those who live in a specific area. You can adjust your future campaign strategy based on this information to craft tailored messages to those groups.

Once you’ve thoroughly analyzed your past campaign analytics, you can create a GivingTuesday strategy that inspires confidence in your team. You’ll have the guidance of data and research, rather than having to rely on the “throw things at the wall and see what sticks” approach.

2. You can start testing your outreach plans. 

Your donors are the most important contributors to your GivingTuesday success. However, without proper outreach and marketing, they won’t be sufficiently informed about your GivingTuesday campaign. Therefore, one of the greatest benefits of starting the planning process early is that you’ll give your team much more flexibility and preparation time to enact an effective marketing strategy.

With a longer planning process, you can strategize your multichannel marketing approach to reach the widest audience possible. Explore advertising opportunities such as:

  • Your email newsletter: You likely send a weekly or monthly newsletter to update supporters on your current projects, fundraising progress, and any upcoming events. Be sure to send GivingTuesday-related updates and reminders starting a month or two in advance. Highlight different aspects of the campaign, such as past GivingTuesday fundraising successes, the number of supporters who typically participate, and what you’ll be able to accomplish if you reach your year-end goal.
  • Your social media pages: Create informational posts about your campaign and be sure to make them shareable so current supporters can repost them to their pages and reach an even larger audience. Also, use this time to look into platform-specific fundraising opportunities, such as Facebook fundraising. Test run Facebook fundraising for other campaigns and create a dossier of fundraising best practices for your volunteer fundraisers.
  • Your website: Your website is the online hub that supporters use to read more about your mission and get involved through donating or volunteering. Create a permanent page on your nonprofit’s website where visitors can learn more about the campaign and find the link to donate. On GivingTuesday, you can use the page to keep supporters informed about your fundraising progress with a fundraising thermometer or donor leaderboard.

Since you’re getting a head start on your campaign planning, you’ll also have sufficient time to crowd-test your fundraising messaging. For instance, you can craft different versions of similar fundraising messages to determine which one receives the most engagement. Also, you can review your social media analytics to discover the best times of day and days of the week to post based on engagement metrics.

Be sure to also develop your branding strategy for your GivingTuesday campaign. Will you have a specific hashtag for supporters to use or a tagline for all of your email campaigns? Figure out these details early on so you can develop a library of design collateral that is ready to be rolled out in December.

3. You can get a head start on prospect research. 

The months leading up to GivingTuesday present a great opportunity to improve your approach to prospect research. This guide to prospect research describes it as “the process of identifying potential major donors for your nonprofit, helping you take a more focused approach to securing major gifts, capital campaign contributors, planned gifts, and more.”

GivingTuesday campaigns typically focus on securing many smaller individual donations rather than major gifts, but prospect research can still provide insights that you can apply to your overall supporter base. You won’t need to conduct intensive prospect research for every donor you expect to contribute on GivingTuesday, but the information you gather can be useful for marketing to a wider audience as well.

As with all fundraising campaigns, data should be at the forefront of your prospect research strategy. Use your nonprofit database to identify donors with characteristics such as:

  • Strong existing relationship with your nonprofit. Donors who’ve contributed to your cause or interacted with your organization recently are more likely to give again.
  • History of donating or volunteering with similar organizations. These markers indicate a person’s affinity for your cause.
  • Political contributions. This can signify a prospect’s capacity to give—if they give to a political cause they care about, they may also have extra funds to give to a charitable cause.
  • Professional or personal connections. Certain supporters may have work-related or familial connections with other individuals in your database. This can help you refine your communications and identify corporate matching gift opportunities.
  • Demographic and personal information. Information such as age, location, and marital status can help you personalize your communications.
  • Wealth indicators. Markers such as real estate holdings or stock ownership can help signify a prospect’s capacity and ability to give to your organization.

Although these metrics are typically used to inform interactions with major donors, you can also use these insights to craft your broader GivingTuesday strategy. Demographic data, historical giving, and engagement metrics can help you decide how to segment your audience and construct your marketing strategy.

For example, if you’ve noticed that a large number of your supporters are younger people who live in a certain geographic area, you can create targeted social media campaigns that appeal to their communication preferences. Or, if you have a dedicated group of regular volunteers, you can create a segment and reach out to them ahead of GivingTuesday because they will likely be eager to donate to your cause.

You can also use your donor data analytics, along with more intentional relationship-building efforts, to secure mid-size and major gifts during the extended year-end fundraising season. This can help ensure that you’re maximizing your efforts throughout the entire year-end fundraising period, not just on GivingTuesday itself.

4. You can spend time strengthening donor relationships. 

Although individualized relationship-building strategies are particularly necessary when securing support from major donors, it’s important to conduct stewardship efforts with all of your nonprofit’s supporters. This approach helps boost your retention rate so you can spend less time and funds soliciting new donors throughout the year and more time planning an incredible GivingTuesday campaign.

To get started with your donor stewardship efforts, demonstrate your gratitude and commitment to supporters by:

  • Meeting them where they are. Actively build a community by connecting with supporters through their preferred communication channels.
  • Creating experiences that fulfill their needs. Listen to your supporters’ needs by sending surveys and polls where they can provide feedback. Be sure to actively incorporate their comments so they know their opinions matter.
  • Frequently expressing appreciation. Demonstrate gratitude by not only sending thank-you notes, but also showing supporters how their contributions make a difference with stories and statistics.

While you should focus more personalized attention on your prospective major donors, with activities such as one-on-one phone calls and personal event invitations, the broader concepts of stewardship should apply across the board to all supporters. This will help you create a sustainable community of dedicated supporters ahead of Giving Tuesday. Plus, it will boost retention after the year-end season comes to a close.

Ultimately, there’s no reason to put off your Giving Tuesday planning. The sooner you get started, the better you can strategize around strengthening your support network and spreading the word about your campaign. Giving Tuesday quickly sneaks up on nonprofit professionals each year, but with an effective plan in place, you can make the most of this amazing annual opportunity. Good luck!