Giving Tuesday

No success on Giving Tuesday? Here are some things to consider.

A user on Reddit asked about input on her organization’s Giving Tuesday campaign. I rarely comment at length on anything, but the /r/nonprofit subreddit isn’t as popular as others and sometimes a question comes along I can help with. So I wrote the following response about Giving Tuesday:

Most of the advice here, while well-meaning, is terrible. Giving Tuesday is going to inundate people’s feeds if they follow even one other organization. Let the big ones do the work of teaching people what GT is. Save your breath for things that matter about your organization. Since I don’t know what you do, I’m going to use the example of an animal shelter as an example.

Your timeline is fine as /u/astrodrone says. But if you’re running an animal shelter, tell me how much $10 will do for your work. Things like, “$10 buys 10 cats dinner for 10 days. But if you donate now thanks to @SponsorName you’ll double your donation.” Tell me things like, “We have the lowest administrative costs of any shelter in our region” and “88% of the dogs who come to our shelter leave for their forever home in under 5 months. 10% are euthanized not for space, but because of illness or severe injury. And 2% are here longer than 5 months because they require training. That training costs $20 a session.”

Also think about ways people can donate beyond money. “Most of the dogs in our shelter get out only once a day because we rely on volunteers to help us. You can become a fully trained volunteer and learn how to interact with dogs, walk them safely, teach basic skills, and get it for free by signing up to be a volunteer here [link].” Remember, people like getting things, even when donating. Skills are better than ink pens and tote bags.

If you’re going to state a goal, like “We’re raising $3,000”, tell me what for. Like, “If we raise $3,000 today we can feed all of our cats and dogs for the rest of the year.” Or “With $3,000 Fido will receive a surgery he’s desperately needed since he was brought to our shelter to remove a growth on his leg.”

If you do not work in an organization that is as open or lets you post pictures of clients for privacy reasons, you’re going to have to get creative. Avoid words like “resources”, “programs”, and “services” because that’s nonprofit weasel talk for “things we do you wouldn’t understand, so just give us money.”

People have a lot of options of where to give money. Tax write-offs and “feeling good” are rarely high-ranking factors in why people give money to charity. Instead, people give because they decide to make a “donation purchase” like anything else: the product is reputable, it’s clearly defined, I know what it does and what it will do for someone/something, and I can clearly see myself using or tied to this.

Make sure your website is centered around getting people to a single page with all pertinent information and options to donate money, donate time, donate products (i.e. food), and become “connectors” that follow you on email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. in that order.

Also remember Facebook’s algorithm is going to punish you for posting a bunch of stuff every day. Also, Facebook is already punishing you for being a Page because of recent algorithm changes. Consider lining up a bunch of supporters and fans who are people with Profiles. Then ask them to post material on their profiles. You’ll reach more people and it will be more organic. Twitter can be fine so long as you’re not in “Nonprofit Twitter” where your followers and their followers are just a bunch of other nonprofits yelling at each other.

Your email list, past volunteers, past donors, and anyone who has ever interacted with your organization for a day are going to be your biggest sources of revenue and support. On Black Friday each year, social media — all of it — accounts for 1% of online sales. That’s margin of error territory. Email starts 45% of all online sales. Don’t expect Giving Tuesday to be any different.

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