Giving Tuesday: hype or help?
11 questions for your brand — with data! — before you jump in
KEVIN L. BROWN
Giving Tuesday has become a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”
Since launching in 2012 with just $10 million raised, it’s now an international phenomenon with supporters including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google.org, and more.
But it still may not be the right fit for your brand.
So here are 11 Giving Tuesday questions to ask — with surprising data! — before you jump in feet first.
Are you trying to be findable, before being fundable?
Brands are built from the inside out. So if you don’t have a solid theory of change and strategic plan (being fundable), go do that brand work before marketing communications and positioning strategy (being findable). And before campaigns like Giving Tuesday.
Do you target individual donors in your positioning strategy?
The average gift size on Giving Tuesday is just $150 USD. So if your funding mix is mostly big grants from foundations, high-net-worths, and government — or service fees — perhaps skip it. This day and these donors just aren’t who your brand is for. And that’s OK.
If you do target individual donors, do you typically engage younger ones?
The typical Giving Tuesday donor is younger (average 25 years old!), tech-savvy, and engaged on social media. If this isn’t where your donors hang out, you might be shouting into the void. With millennials contributing 22% of total charitable giving, ensure your demographic and channels align — or refocus your energies.
Is your storytelling on point for Giving Tuesday?
The average donor is bombarded with pleas for help on Giving Tuesday. And more than 10,000 nonprofits participate in this movement. That’s a lot of hashtags. So if your narrative isn’t ready to resonate deeply and immediately, Giving Tuesday might not be your stage.
Can your Global South brand compete in this unfair landscape?
Giving Tuesday touts that the movement stretches across 90 countries. But they also only report “giving in the United States alone totaled $3.1 billion.” We know local and national NGOs receive just 0.4% of all international aid. So Global South brands can — unjustly — expect a fraction of this total.
Is your energy better spent on overall end-of-year giving?
Yes, Giving Tuesday itself can be a nice kickoff for the holiday giving season. But the day itself represents just 3% of most nonprofit fundraising. By comparison, the last three days of the year (December 29, 30, and 31) is 12%. So consider downplaying the noise on this day itself, and focus on a month-long program.
“It’s a big day, but not the biggest. Year-end giving tends to be more lucrative. Keep in mind that Giving Tuesday is the beginning of your year-end fundraising, so the best course of action is to embrace the holiday.”
Are you a big enough charity to break through the noise?
Nonprofits with $10 million or more in annual revenue get nearly 60% of the money on Giving Tuesday. No surprise, because they have the marcom teams and ad spend. So if you’re much smaller in size, consider the following question before proceeding.
Is there enough team capacity to pull off a Giving Tuesday campaign?
If you’re a tiny team already stretched thin, keep in mind the average nonprofit raises just $4,800 on Giving Tuesday. That’s catalytic for some of you, but just another drop-in-the-bucket donation for others. And when considering all the staff hours that go into this big day, does the financial return make it worth it?
Do you already execute fundraising campaigns well?
Do you have an optimized donation page? Mobile-friendly website? Email marketing nurturing series after people donate? Analytics to track what’s working and not? An internal rhythm of reviewing KPIs? If the answer is no, Giving Tuesday should not be your first rodeo.
Do you also already have a donor retention strategy?
Even if you do score big on Giving Tuesday, remember that donor retention beats donor acquisition — all day. As every $100 gained is offset by $96 in losses through donor attrition. So don’t go after a ton of new donors on a single day without a plan to keep them.
Does giving and philanthropy mean only money to you?
Philanthropy means love (𝙥𝙝𝙞𝙡) of humanity (𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙝𝙧𝙤𝙥𝙤𝙨). Not love of donations. Giving Tuesday itself boasts that 11 million people donated goods and 10 million volunteered in 2022. So think of other ways to activate your supporters and community beyond donor appeals.
Giving Tuesday has done a lot of good.
However, Giving Tuesday is not for every nonprofit. Not for every fundraising plan.
Despite the hype.
So ditch the herd mentality. Don’t let hype hijack your strategy. Cut through the Giving Tuesday clamor.
Is Giving Tuesday a true ally for your cause, or just an annual distraction?
Champion your brand on your terms, not the calendar’s.
And align with it by choice, not by chorus.
“[Giving Tuesday] creates a sense of obligation where people don’t want to be the one organization that’s left out and they don’t want to accidentally leave anything on the table. As a sector, we’re afraid to look at the opportunity costs of going along with the latest trend and the latest gimmick.”
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