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5 Tips for Success From GivingTuesday’s Chief Data Officer

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Published September 8, 2022 Reading Time: 7 minutes

This is a guest blog from Will Schmidt, Head of Marketing for the Cause & Purpose podcast. Alongside host Mike Spear, these two former Classy veterans are sharing social impact leaders’ stories, successes, failures, and lessons learned from a life spent solving the world’s most important social challenges. Follow them on Spotify for new episodes that launch every two weeks.

Giving Tuesday 2022 was the single biggest day for donor acquisition of the year across all cause areas. Further, Classy processed $44,168,979 in donations on Giving Tuesday last year, setting an all-time record. 

These statistics are especially relevant given the recent economic uncertainty and the impact many thought it would have on donors’ willingness to give. As we look toward Giving Tuesday, many are filled with excitement for yet another impactful day of giving. 

The Cause & Purpose podcast hosted an exclusive interview with Woodrow Rosenbaum, Chief Data Officer at GivingTuesday, who showed us that we do, in fact, have a lot to be excited about. What’s more, he shared some deep insights, data points, tips, tactics, and strategies to help your nonprofit organization

Below, we dissect some of his key learnings. While they’re all immediately relevant for Giving Tuesday, they’re also applicable for any other day of the year. 

1. Let Supporters Be Part of the Solution     

When Giving Tuesday was created, it wasn’t branded with the originating organization. This was highly unusual, but it allowed anyone to make Giving Tuesday their own. That, in turn, led to an environment built on co-creation, peer learning, and community from day one. 

There’s value in getting a lot of people on your mission who aren’t on your payroll. The more you can provide an opportunity for distributed support, for open-source platforms that have your mission at their heart, the more you can tap into the power of the crowd to build the impact you want to have.

W. Rosenbaum

Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday

This stands true for GivingTuesday the organization, but equally so for your nonprofit. Look no further than the creative branding organizations have put on the standard Giving Tuesday logo or the inspiring fundraising campaigns they’ve created.

Now, you may not be able to let your nonprofit logo go free to the public. (And that’s not the real learning here.) The lesson is that we do better work when we work together and when we give supporters an opportunity to be part of the solution. 

For example, you can compile key learnings from your successful Giving Tuesday communications plans and distribute them to other grassroots organizations that need help with emails, social media, or direct mail. Those organizations can, in turn, share information back to you about driving grassroots participation. 

Cultivate a mindset of co-creation, peer learning, and collaboration instead of competition. The intersection of those concepts is where you’ll be able to make the biggest impact possible. 

 2. Build a Holistic View of Your Supporters

One of the most valuable things your nonprofit organization can do is work to build a holistic profile of your supporters. And the way you do that is by asking the right questions. 

Woodrow spent the beginning of his career in commercial marketing and shares an anecdote about a major diaper brand that underscores how important this is. The diaper brand asked their customers what the most important factor in choosing a diaper was.

Across the board, consumers said that absorbency was the most important factor. However, when the brand messaged that they had the most absorbent diaper, they lost market share. What they were missing here was that by and large, people already trusted the top diaper brands to be absorbent. 

The brand wasn’t messaging its audience on a factor that differentiated them from the market in any capacity. Further, they received no new information in this process about their customers, aside from what they likely already knew. 

We do this all the time in the social sector. This constant asking the question because of received wisdom and expectation of what the answer will be. That’s a real problem we have to face.

W. Rosenbaum

Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday

Take, for example, the question of trust. Organizations often ask supporters, “How important is it to trust the nonprofit you give to?” People almost always say it’s 100 percent important, but we already know that. That doesn’t drive their donation intent. 

If you want to inspire someone to take action, you have to discover what compels your followers. You have to assemble a holistic view of who they are as individuals in order to connect with them in an emotionally impactful way. That’s what drives intent.

Consider sending surveys where you ask questions that can help you personalize future outreach, provide frictionless opportunities to take action, and align with a supporter’s values. Use every touch point to learn something new about your followers that helps you better connect with them. 

3. Capitalize on the Energy Behind Giving Tuesday     

How would you feel if you received an email that said: “Give to our organization because it’s Giving Tuesday.”? You wouldn’t feel very excited because this isn’t a compelling ask. Yet, Woodrow still sees organizations use this approach for Giving Tuesday.

The issue here is twofold. First, this approach is better than doing nothing, and some people may respond to this message by giving a gift. But “better than nothing” isn’t the bar we should strive for. Second, Giving Tuesday, by itself, isn’t a reason to give. 

Giving Tuesday amplifies what you’re doing and gets people excited. And the majority of donors on Giving Tuesday say they participated so they could feel like part of a bigger group of people giving back.

W. Rosenbaum

Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday

A major factor that compels someone to give is urgency. Giving Tuesday provides that urgency since people who want to be in on the action have to give on that day.  

To capitalize on this energy, enthusiasm, and urgency, your organization has to tell a compelling and emotionally driven story of impact that taps into the heightened environment for giving. For example, show supporters specifically what impact their donation has, how a monthly giving program helps with your future plans, or what volunteers can do to advance your mission. 

This crucial sense of urgency is always going to be inherent in Giving Tuesday. But even when it’s not Giving Tuesday, you can find ways to create moments of amplified giving throughout the year by tying engagement touch points to an annual fundraiser gala, timed campaigns, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, or creative virtual fundraising events.

4. Break the Scarcity Mindset     

In its early days, there was an assumption that Giving Tuesday couldn’t possibly be additive. The skeptics felt that giving was flat, you couldn’t increase it, and all you could do was move the existing pool of money around. This scarcity mindset may no longer be associated with Giving Tuesday, but it’s still alive within the social sector. 

The idea is that if someone gives today, then by definition, they’ll give less later. The reality is that’s just not true.

W. Rosenbaum

Chief Data Officer at Giving Tuesday

Any commercial marketer would recognize this notion as patently false as well. They would never say, “I don’t want customers to buy today because then they won’t buy tomorrow.”

In Classy’s State of Modern Philanthropy report, we found that supporters who engage with different campaign types, but also those who give to various nonprofits and donate to each other’s fundraising initiatives, ultimately give more over their lifetime than those who engage with just one cause.

Their support may even generate excitement among their peers—individuals who may have never known about your organization to begin with. When you realize this and break the scarcity mindset, you can eliminate fear around being active and trying new things that could ultimately inspire a new level of generosity

For example, some organizations will exclude donors from their email lists because they don’t want to pester them with asks. In this example, you’re leaving out your best customers. Instead of exclusion, focus on segmentation and what matters to your different segments.

Communicate with your segments in a relevant, inspiring way at the cadence your donors request. The key to improving your donor management initiatives is in how you engage with supporters and the quality of the Giving Tuesday messaging you send. 

5. Test Something New     

One of the best things your organization can do to collaborate, build a holistic view of your supporters, perfect engagement touch points, or maximize your donors’ giving potential is to simply try something new.

The digital landscape has never been more accessible than it is right now, and it provides a gateway for you to learn a lot very quickly. Plus, you won’t have to invest much capital, relatively speaking, when deploying a variety of new Giving Tuesday campaign ideas.

For example, if you’re a fundraiser, look back at the donors you acquired last year and how you acquired them. What channel did they come through, what message did they respond to, and what did they care about? 

Take those insights from your fundraising campaign and pair them with your goals for this year. Maybe you want to talk with them about the effect they had and the specific impact they made on your mission. 

Instead of rolling out a massive direct mail campaign on a message you think will work, start with a Facebook ad that costs $1,000. You’ll be able to “test” your Giving Tuesday messaging in a variety of ways so you know for certain what copy resonates and converts. 

It’s a small price to pay for the massive amount of data you’ll get. Once you’ve collected those insights, you can apply them to the more permanent and expensive campaigns, like direct mail. And you’ll be confident they work. 

Giving Tuesday Is a Golden Opportunity

Giving Tuesday presents a golden opportunity for your organization. If it feels overwhelming, stick to these quick-fire tips from Woodrow that will help you get in on the action and claim your piece of the pie:

  • Don’t miss it
  • Do what’s in your capacity
  • Celebrate and have fun
  • Engage your supporters because they’re going to be primed to give
  • Don’t be afraid of creativity
  • Try something new
  • Collaborate with supporters
  • Be active
  • No campaign is too small

As deep as this blog goes, it’s only a small portion of Cause & Purpose’s interview with Woodrow Rosenbaum. Make sure you listen to the full episode for more on:

  • Important changes in donor retention
  • Giving Tuesday statistics and insights
  • COVID and the opportunity it presents
  • Donor mobility and recapture strategies
  • What the future of fundraising could look like

And, for everything else, be sure to access Classy’s free Giving Tuesday Resource Center for all the tools you need to crush your goals this year. 

Giving Tuesday Resource Center

Every Giving Tuesday Resource in One Spot

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