It’s Time to Get a Big Idea for #GivingTuesday

By Elizabeth Chung
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Tick, tock – the holiday season is right around the corner! With three months left until December, nonprofit organizations are busy prepping for their end-of-year opportunities. And many are looking to kick-off the holiday season with their best foot forward by running a solid #GivingTuesday campaign.

Previously, we’ve discussed the step-by-step process for planning your #GivingTuesday campaign. In this post, we will take a closer look at 5 organizations that capitalized on this day of giving last year, and how they successfully engaged supporters before, during, and after their #GivingTuesday campaign. Take a look at these best practices and apply them to your efforts this December!

For even more insights, tips, and strategies, check out Classy’s Giving Tuesday Resource Center where you can download more than 50 assets for free:

Before #GivingTuesday

The Chicago Foundation for Women – CFW #GivingTuesday

The Chicago Foundation for Women is dedicated to increasing resources and opportunities for women and girls in the greater Chicago area. Through its grant program, the foundation works to expand women’s economic security, ensure freedom from violence, and increase access to health services and education.

Last year, the foundation’s #GivingTuesday fundraising efforts kicked off before the actual event. They recruited board members and supporters as “CFW #GivingTuesday” champions leading up to the Thanksgiving Holiday. The foundation encouraged these advocates to spread the word about the campaign, providing sample social media posts to make sharing quick and easy.

Supporters were also asked to send a fundraising email to at least five friends. Finally, the foundation sent fundraising emails to its entire supporter base – all 10,000 members – before and on #GivingTuesday. That night, they hosted a phone-a-thon to ring in last minute donations.

The foundation raised only $50 on #GivingTuesday 2012, but their early efforts the next year blew that number out of the water. In 2013, the foundation’s #GivingTuesday campaign raised $6,076!


Start reaching out now – Although #GivingTuesday is a 24-hour event, reaching out to supporters ahead of time can dramatically increase the donations you receive day-of.

Start early and recruit your biggest advocates, including board members, power fundraisers, social media evangelists, and passionate volunteers.

Thank them for their support, and invite them to be part of a handpicked “inner circle” that will ensure your campaign’s success. Empower them to get involved and to help spread the word for the campaign.

Go peer-to-peer – Many organizations rely on direct contributions for #GivingTuesday, but you can raise a lot more money and expand your reach by implementing peer-to-peer fundraising.

Those all-star supporters you plan to recruit? Turn them into fundraisers to maximize the number of supporters and donations you bring into the fold. Make it easier for them to get started by prepping a fundraising toolkit ahead of time, with email templates, sample social media posts, fundraising tips, and a pre-created fundraising page.

During #GivingTuesday

Camp Kesem – #BigKidsGive

Camp Kesem empowers college student leaders nationwide to create free, fun-filled, and life-changing summer camps for children affected by a parent’s cancer. For their 2013 #GivingTuesday campaign, Camp Kesem encouraged college students, or “Big Kids,” across the country to take collaborative action and give back to their communities.

When Tuesday hit, forty-five Camp Kesem college chapters activated a #BigKidsGive #GivingTuesday photo booth on each of their campuses. Each booth was propped with signs encouraging online donations at the local Camp Kesem chapter website. Students and faculty were invited to take photos with the signs, share them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and include the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #BigKidsGive.

By harnessing the powers of social media and photo booth fun, the campaign raised $10,000 to fund week-long summer camps for children!


Maintain cohesive messaging and branding – Although Camp Kesem mobilized multiple college chapters across the country, each campus’s photo booth signs promoted the same hashtags and call-to-action (to donate at the local chapter website). This unified messaging enabled a cohesive campaign experience online.   During (and before and after) #GivingTuesday, make sure to streamline your campaign’s communications and branding.

Your call to action should be clear and consistent across your website, supporters’ fundraising pages, and social media assets. It’s also important to carry over your special #GivingTuesday branding onto your homepage, fundraising page templates, and donation forms to create a cohesive experience of the big giving day. Lastly, use a campaign hashtag to make messages discoverable and to create a stream linked to your campaign.

City of Baltimore – Bmore Gives More

Because #GivingTuesday has become a national movement, entire communities and cities have joined forces to raise tons of money for good. Case in point: Baltimore. Last year, 300 nonprofits and 200 local business teamed up to promote “Bmore Gives More,” a citywide #GivingTuesday campaign to name Baltimore the “most generous city in America.”

Nonprofits turned to online fundraising to collect donations, while also drawing on grassroots methods – like the old-fashioned phone-a-thon – to rally supporters.

Participating companies sponsored matching gifts and provided thank-you gifts to donors. Local business crafted special treats just for that day: an ice cream parlor made a signature flavor; a pizza shop created a “Bmore Gives More” topping; and a CrossFit gym organized a special #GivingTuesday workout.

The citywide initiative produced amazing results. By the end of #GivingTuesday, the city of Baltimore took in $5.6 million, raising more money than any other participating city!


Leverage your community to help generate buzz – Your staff members don’t have to be the only ones building excitement around your efforts. Members of your local community can be a great megaphone for your campaign.

#GivingTuesday offers a great opportunity to find sponsors willing to match donations. Pitch your campaign to local businesses, private foundations, or even major donors.

Announcing that a donation matching period will happen day-of can excite and help pull in more. You can also collaborate with other organizations or businesses to host local activities, themed events, or even prepare special swag or goodies to rally a larger community around your cause.

After #GivingTuesday

American Red Cross – Showcasing Social Support

For their 2013 #GivingTuesday campaign, the American Red Cross focused on encouraging donations through their holiday gift catalog. To generate buzz around their efforts, they asked celebrity and corporate partners to put their large social media presence behind the campaign. More than 35 celebrities tweeted about Red Cross’ mission and impact, which included a story of someone impacted by Red Cross’ mission.

After Tuesday, the organization curated all of the influencers’ tweets and highlighted them on their blog. This post not only thanked their celebrity partners, but it hoped to inspire others to give.


Spotlight your supporters’ efforts – Even after a one-day event, following up with your donors remains an all-important practice.

One way to express your appreciation is to highlight supporters’ social media activity on your behalf. Consider curating supporters’ hashtagged social media posts, and showing them off on your website or blog. Look into tools like Storify or Instagram’s public API that allow you to pull messages from across the web and create a beautifully designed gallery.

Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina – Breakfast Club

For the past thirty years, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina has provided food for vulnerable communities in 34 counties. Thanks to many charitable donors and companies, the organization’s 2013 #GivingTuesday campaign received twice the number of online donations as the previous year.

To thank Cisco, one of the businesses that supported them, the food bank’s CEO and Cisco Executives served pancakes to Cisco employees as a fun way to thank employees for donating to the Food Bank.


Give a genuine thank-you – When it comes to thanking your supporters, you need to make them feel like they matter. Remind them how their support is driving your programs.

It’s their donations that are making your organization’s work possible.

TIP: To draw the connection between their support and impact, deliver your thank-you in a way that matches your cause. If you build schools in different countries, you can deliver a personalized story or photo of someone impacted by a school that was built. The theme of your thank you should demonstrate how constituents are affected by your donors’ support.

Kick off your holiday fundraising efforts strong. Launch a stellar #GivingTuesday campaign by planning early, sustaining engagement, and following up promptly. Capitalize on this great energy, and create momentum for the rest of your end-of-year opportunities!

Rock #GivingTuesday

giving tuesday fundraising resources

Image Credit: Hidesy

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