10 Proven #GivingTuesday Strategies from the Past Three Years

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By Ritu Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder, Social Media for Nonprofits

GT_2014Web-Banner_250x250_RedAlt#GivingTuesday is only entering its third year, so it’s fair to say that everyone is still in the midst of the learning curve – though second- and third-timers are certainly further ahead than those taking on the challenge for the first time in 2014.

Strategies and successes by others are what inspire the efforts of every nonprofit that takes up the mantle. Our #GivingTuesday series continues with some of our favorite winning strategies:

1. Harness the #UNselfie – With over 7000 #UNselfies shared on #GT2013, who wouldn’t want in? Take a page from the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s playbook by putting out a call for constituents to capture and share cause-specific #UNselfies (like still-photo versions of the #IceBucketChallenge).

2. Partner with Local BusinessesBusinesses and nonprofits in Niagara NY collaborated so that guests at a local emergency housing shelter were able to receive free haircuts donated by an area salon, while staff from the community Target painted and refreshed the shelter’s common areas.

3. Partner with Your City – There’s no need to go it alone if there are others who want to work with you. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and other cities large and small took the opportunity to share the effort – and share the rewards – by creating city-wide giving campaigns.

4. Be Outrageously Memorable – While not a #GivingTuesday tactic specifically, it did wonders for DoSomething’s 20-year fundraising celebration when the organization promised to dunk their CEO and COO in a dunk tank if donations reached $1 million (they did, and then some!). People love to see people get dunked, splashed, and slimed so offer up a dose of something equally silly to catch donors’ attention.

5. Embrace Social Media and the Internet – Online giving was up 90% on #GT2013, compared to the previous year ($142.05 was the average online gift) with a 468% increase in the number of pre-event tweets! If that growth is exponential for 2014… you don’t want to miss out.

6. Or Kick it Old School – As Stephanie Startz (social media for the Michael J. Fox Foundation) points out, “Just because you’re not social or digital doesn’t mean you don’t have tools available.” Have a phone-a-thon, post signs around your town, and use traditional advertising methods to get the word out about your cause. It worked for The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. They raised $1 million #GivingTuesday’s first year.

7. Find Your Match – Organizations like the Maryland SPCA and Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry wildly exceeded their donation goals by promoting donor matching pledges. Donors love knowing their contributions will go farther, so make sure you talk up any matching gifts on offers. And if you missed it – read our post about matching pledges.

8. “Use #GivingTuesday as a Bike Ramp” – This colorful directive from Becca Wilson, Communications Director for Hands on Nashville, is a reminder to let the movement amplify OUR presence, not the other way around. Create your own movement, messaging and hashtags, promote them on all channels, and let the momentum of #GivingTuesday carry you further than ever before.

“Giving Tuesday is not magic. You have to do things to get people to your site.” Rachel Hutchisson

9. “Make it About Impact, Not Just Fundraising” – says White House Social Innovation Director Jonathan Greenblatt. Phoenix House garnered serious media attention – including Mashable and Huffington Post – by asking followers to write letters of encouragement to those in their treatment programs. They made it simple by providing a downloadable, customizable template on their website.

10. Start Early – If Black Friday can start at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving, then #GivingTuesday can start whenever your organization decides it’s ready. World Concern started two weeks early in 2012 and raised $17,000 before #GivingTuesday even arrived (plus another $29,000 on the day).

Bonus Tip: Think Ahead – #GivingTuesday isn’t just a one-off day of giving. It can be leveraged all the way into next year by savvy nonprofits.

Take note of what others are doing, measure your own results (we’ll talk about how next time), and commit to attending the #GivingTuesday Summit come 2015 (in person or via livestream), and this time next year you’ll be surpassing your organization’s goals yet again.

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