It’s November. That means brisk weather and crunchy leaves underfoot. Your mind turns to Thanksgiving and you start to panic. Not about the perfect green bean casserole but about #GivingTuesday - one of the most anxiety-inducing hashtags out there.
Before coming to CI, I worked in fundraising at a few nonprofit arts organizations and I approached #GivingTuesday with a not insignificant amount of dread. For the uninitiated - #GivingTuesday began in 2012 with a partnership between the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. A first-of-its-kind idea taking inspiration from Black Friday and Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday has gained major traction in the nonprofit world at large as a day dedicated to charitable giving.
Here’s some real talk: It can be really hard to make your organization stand out to potential donors on a day when ALL nonprofit organizations are clamoring for attention. There is a lot of pressure put on this one day, when we all know that fundraising is a long-haul effort. A stranger who doesn’t know anything about your organization probably isn’t going to come along and give you $1,000 (as much as we all wish they would). The effort expended on this day should be shifted to thinking about your Calendar Year End appeals as a whole.
However, for many of you, #GivingTuesday may be one of your Board Member’s favorite buzzwords. And it is now a recognizable touchstone of the fundraising calendar. So you have to do it. Here are some tips to achieve #GivingTuesday success.
Before you write a single email or pull a list of past donors, take a look at your organization’s past #GivingTuesday efforts to create some benchmarks. While tempting, it is not super helpful to look at other organization’s metrics (if you can even find them!). Each organization is unique and you can only truly measure the success of various strategies by setting your own benchmarks. If you don’t have any data to look back on, think about what you can measure this year.
Since the donation market is SO saturated on #GivingTuesday, some people may just tune out your appeals. So set your own goals and let those guide the rest of your strategy. Of course, we would all like to make some money on #GivingTuesday - but if that has been elusive for your organization in the past, maybe awareness is your goal and you want people to comment or share your Facebook post or visit your website. A lot of effort is often put into #GivingTuesday across the organization - set expectations that the day serves as the kickoff to your Calendar Year End efforts rather than a one-and-done day.
Segment, Segment, Segment
We know, we know. You're already doing this. But... according to CI’s 2016 Arts Industry Digital Marketing Benchmark Study, 83% of arts organizations we surveyed felt they could improve their segmentation.
On #GivingTuesday it can be tempting to blast out an ask to every person on your email list. But if those people have only been to your organization once (or never!), how likely are they to donate? Not very likely. So put your effort and money behind reaching people who have already shown an emotional and financial investment in your institution. That means current and lapsed donors, and for performing arts organizations, subscribers and multi-ticket buyers. Not only will they be more receptive to your message, but you can speak directly to them. They already know your organization, you need to tell them why they should support you and how they can.
Fundraising is all about playing the long-game and #GivingTuesday is just one reason to reach out to these potential donors - but think about reaching out to them more regularly (remember they’ve demonstrated interest in your organization) both when you want something from them and when you want to give something to them.
Email + Facebook: A Match!
When I was a full-time fundraiser, I wish I had known about the power of Facebook. Fundraisers are not taking full advantage of Facebook's incredible targeting power and storytelling ability.
Facebook is a great way to amplify the message of your email. In fact, Facebook can extend the reach of your emails by up to 77%! You may send an email to a list of 2,000 but if only 15% open it, how are you going to reach the other 85%? I guarantee you, most of them are on Facebook - even if they are in an older demographic. Facebook has a scary-accurate matching algorithm that can find the people on your email list on Facebook. The other great thing? Facebook is cheap. Unlike a large direct mail piece, you can put a few hundred dollars behind a post to get those people on your email list to see it. So use similar messaging in your #GivingTuesday emails and Facebook posts and let them echo and amplify.
Call In Reinforcements
Creating content from scratch can be daunting! Luckily, your marketing department is creating content for Facebook (and emails) all the time - so ask them to help you if you are unfamiliar with creating content for Facebook. They know which content has worked best in the past - maybe you can reuse a really stellar video or photo from earlier in the year. We see these photos all the time but your audience likely isn’t paying as close attention - they won’t remember a photo you posted six months ago.
While you want your emails and Facebook messages to echo each other, you need to write for the platform - brevity is key! If you haven’t already, break down those silos and extend an olive branch to your marketing colleagues - you are all on the same team!
Share the Wealth
#GivingTuesday relies not just on organizations making the ask, but on individual supporters sharing with their networks what they are passionate about, why they give to a particular organization/cause and asking their friends to join them.
Create content to encourage your nearest and dearest to both give AND share why they give. Your stalwart supporters can even create fundraisers on your behalf - use your content to inspire them to action! Facebook this year is waiving fees on donations on #GivingTuesday (usually 5%) and offering to match donations made across the platform up to $2 million! Make sure your organization’s page meets all the standards to receive donations on Facebook.
How is your organization approaching #GivingTuesday? Let us know in the comments section!