6 Giving Tuesday ideas and strategies that help you stand out

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

6 Giving Tuesday ideas and strategies that help you stand out

Any group that’s raising money for a good cause should have Giving Tuesday circled on their calendar in bright red ink. If you don’t already know, Giving Tuesday is an exciting global day of philanthropy that falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. 

It’s been around since 2012, when it was created by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to cut through holiday season consumerism — like Black Friday and Cyber Monday — and put the focus back on selfless giving. Fast forward to 2019, and Giving Tuesday fundraisers are driving an incredible $2 billion in donations

Giving Tuesday isn’t just a great opportunity for fundraising. There were also 20 billion social media impressions on #GivingTuesday campaigns last year. That’s billions of opportunities for new donors, dedicated volunteers, and widespread awareness for your cause.

So, how can your nonprofit organization or fundraising group capture attention while millions of people are tuned in and ready to help? Use these Giving Tuesday ideas and fundraising strategies in your campaign.

6 need-to-know Giving Tuesday ideas and strategies

giving tuesday ideas: heart in hand

Almost one-third of annual giving happens in December, when Giving Tuesday typically takes place. The two most important takeaways? Giving Tuesday has the potential to be your biggest day of donations and support, but you’ll face some steep competition at this time of year. 

These strategies will help your Giving Tuesday campaign stand out and get seen by the right people:

1. Lead with video

Video isn’t just a trend anymore — it’s one of the most successful fundraising tools at your disposal for Giving Tuesday. According to Nonprofits Source, crowdfunding campaigns with personal videos raise 150% more than those that don’t have videos. About 57% of people who watch nonprofit videos go on to make a donation. Furthermore, tweets with video receive 10x more engagement than those without.

The power of video goes back to Storytelling 101: “Show, don’t tell.” 

Video testimonials and images offer a direct window into a problem or opportunity. Instead of reading about how far someone has to walk to access clean water, they can see the long, hot, harrowing journey themselves. Viewers feel emotionally connected, and immediately understand what their money or time will accomplish.

Campaign videos don’t need to be lengthy. In fact, the most-viewed nonprofit videos on YouTube were 31 to 60 seconds long. Tell a specific story, show engaging imagery, and clearly state the next action step (your requested donation amount, a link to volunteer, rules on how to participate, etc).

Put this strategy into action: 

  • Highlight a compelling individual story: Interview a person or members of a community your group has impacted. If you’re fundraising for a personal cause, create a brief video explaining what people’s support will help you achieve. 
  • Launch a viral video challenge: Campaign videos don’t have to be serious. Everyone knows the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because it’s unique, fun, and interactive. Come up with your own viral video challenge and create a special hashtag to generate buzz. 
  • Host a livestreamed special event: Live video is also powerful, and has the bonus of letting you engage with supporters in real time. Try hosting a livestreamed webinar, workshop, or even a comedy show. Explore 15 more virtual Giving Tuesday ideas.

2. Make it multichannel

Share one consistent message across multiple channels (email, website, social media, etc.) to get maximum visibility for your giving campaign. Creating this multichannel experience is key to a successful Giving Tuesday. 

If you focus on just one platform, like Facebook, a potential supporter could miss your entire campaign because they didn’t check their timeline when you posted. And if your campaign announcement email gets trapped in their spam folder, you lose an opportunity for support. 

Your best bet is to cover all your bases and keep your ask simple and specific. A clear, detailed message builds credibility and gives people confidence you’ll use their donations effectively. 

Put this strategy into action: 

  • Update your website and online fundraising page: Your website should have a Giving Tuesday call-to-action front and center, whether it’s a donation button, embedded fundraising page, or volunteer sign-up sheet. It should also be mobile-optimized for people viewing your site using their smartphones — 50% of all nonprofit website visits came from users on mobile devices in 2019
  • Spruce up your social media accounts: First, review your analytics to decide which social media sites to prioritize. Include engaging images in your social media posts and give a clear prompt to participate, share, and comment. Likes are nice, but comments from real supporters help you build authenticity, stand out, and motivate others to give. Find more social media tips in this article
  • Have a few emails written and ready: People are inundated with emails, especially during the holiday season. Be creative with your subject lines and remember to use language your target audience is comfortable with. At the least, have one email that announces your campaign, one that reminds people to give, and one that thanks your supporters. 
  • Set up mobile donations and sharing: Mobile giving already makes up 25% of fundraising revenue, and it’s on the rise. Make it easy with convenient text-to-donate options. 

3. Let supporters get hands on

giving tuesday ideas: woman helping with a clean up

It’s Giving Tuesday, not Donation Tuesday. Although it’s an effective way to raise money, not everyone can spare the funds for your campaign, even if it’s just $5. 

However, most people can carve out an hour or two to contribute to a mission they’re passionate about.

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to provide your supporters with multiple ways to take action. Your supporters will appreciate it, and by removing any financial obstacles, more people can support your cause. Let’s dive right into some tactics. 

Put this strategy into action: 

  • Get crafty: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of people went to work crafting masks. Apply this mentality to your Giving Tuesday idea. If your nonprofit sends health kits abroad, can you offer instructions on how to host a kit-building party for Giving Tuesday? If your choir is holding an online bake sale, can people volunteer as delivery people or donate baked goods? 
  • Have your supporters “join” your marketing team: Ask people to email a certain number of friends about your cause or post an #unselfie (a selfie with a message about a cause they support). Peer-to-peer giving techniques also let people raise money without spending money themselves. 
  • Make progress on long-term goals: Think about other ongoing goals, like acquiring more regular donors, or your main mission, like ending global hunger. Have supporters sign a petition for legal reform or something even simpler, like joining your newsletter.

4. Collaborate with a nonprofit, business, or sponsor

Although it might seem counterintuitive to share your fundraising campaign with another group, it could actually benefit you both. Partnerships and sponsorships give you access to another audience of potential donors as well as much-needed promotion. Going back to idea #1, it could be as quick and simple as a video collaboration, but you both get twice the viewers and engagement. 

Generally, it’s best to choose a nonprofit, business, or individual that caters to a similar audience. For example, if you’re a health organization that focuses on women over age 40, you may want to partner with a vitamin shop or grocery store with a similar demographic. There are many ways to approach this and win big. 

Put this strategy into action: 

  • Get an event sponsored: Reach out to local businesses or even crowdsource ideas for potential business sponsorships from your donor base. And check out all the ways small businesses can help you hit your Giving Tuesday goals. 
  • Try corporate matching gifts: Your supporters’ employers may have corporate matching gift programs, in which the company will match an employee’s nonprofit donation (or even double or triple it). If so, direct supporters to make Giving Tuesday donations through this program. 
  • Try a local restaurant fundraiser: This is a low-cost, low-effort method for both you and your donors. Simply partner with a local restaurant and see if they’ll donate a percentage of sales to your cause the week of Giving Tuesday.

5. Recruit Giving Tuesday ambassadors

People give to people, so put an enthusiastic face and name to your year-end campaign. For this strategy, you’ll need to recruit a group of Giving Tuesday ambassadors and then build out a peer-to-peer fundraising plan based on the team.

Simply put, your Giving Tuesday ambassadors should be your champions — your loyal supporters, dedicated donors, enthusiastic volunteers, and longtime sponsors. The more passionate they are about your cause, the more effective your campaign will be. 

Some ambassadors will create an individual fundraising page and raise money from their personal network. Others may serve as event speakers or commit to matching donations. There’s tremendous potential here, just make sure you provide each ambassador with the resources they need, whether it’s an engaging script, fact sheet, or merchandise. 

Put this strategy into action:

  • Make it a matching day: Matching grants are extremely effective for relatively short campaigns like Giving Tuesday. See if a major donor or company will agree to match each donation on the big day. In return, thank them publicly and highlight their work. 
  • Add a little friendly competition: If you’re running a special event like a gala, game night, or auction, make it a contest to see which ambassador can raise the most money, bring the most attendees, or sell the most tickets. Don’t forget to incentivize your ambassadors with rewards and recognize them throughout your campaign.

6. Launch or highlight a monthly giving program

The retention rate for monthly givers is 90%, while the retention rate for the average donor is just 43%. 

In other words, nonprofits lose half of their one-time donors each year, but keep almost all of their monthly donors. 

It’s obvious why the ultimate goal for most nonprofits is to get people giving on a monthly basis. 

Monthly donations aren’t just for popular charities with gigantic budgets and thousands of donors. Schools, student groups, churches, sports teams, and individuals can easily set it up. Donors will celebrate too — they’re able to contribute without the huge upfront financial commitment, which is an easier “sell” for you.

Finally, a monthly giving program helps you continue your Giving Tuesday momentum beyond the 24-hour window and smoothly transition into a new year of fundraising. 

Put this strategy into action: 

  • Specify donation amounts: “Why give monthly?” Answer this question upfront. Give concrete examples of where each dollar is going so donors stay committed month to month. For instance, your website could say that “$30/month provides 10 Happy, Healthy Teeth Kits to children in Nicaragua.”
  • Give your program a mini makeover: This is a good moment to refresh your monthly giving campaign. You can temporarily update materials to reflect your Giving Tuesday branding and message, or make the changes permanent. 
  • Update your donation forms: Add a “Make it a recurring gift” option to your website, emails, and social media pages.

Keep the momentum going all year long

giving tuesday ideas: volunteers raising their hands

We love helping individuals and teams fundraise better — that’s why we made Givebutter’s features free forever as a Giving Tuesday gift in 2019. 

No matter which Giving Tuesday idea you put at the center of your strategy, we’ve got tons of case studies, best practices, and campaign tips to help you get the most out of this philanthropy-focused day and beyond. 

Get more unique insights and handy ideas from our blog and campaign explorer.

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.