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How to Turn Giving Tuesday Donors Into Lifelong Supporters

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By Brad Chrisakis

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Published January 6, 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Giving Tuesday continues to grow as a movement in awareness and participation year over year. Organizations raised over $800 million online on Giving Tuesday 2020 alone, demonstrating that this giving day has transformed into a necessary staple of every nonprofit’s fundraising calendar. 

What organizations must realize, however, is that the days, weeks, and months following Giving Tuesday are far more important than the day itself.

Below, we explore how you should be treating and stewarding Giving Tuesday donors in order to turn them from one-day givers into potentially lifelong supporters who have a lasting impact on your programs and mission.

The Importance of a First Impression 

The first step to retaining a Giving Tuesday donor is to provide them with an optimal giving experience on the actual day. The donation experience you provide could shape your relationship with supporters for years to come, especially new donors.

Your mission and cause might attract people to give, but if the giving experience lacks, the likelihood of them coming back and giving again decreases substantially.

Think of this analogy: Imagine finally getting a table at the popular new restaurant you’ve been waiting to go to. You sit down and have one of the most delicious meals of your life, but the service and experience were awful. Do you go back? Do you tell your friends to go? The lesson here is you can have an incredible cause and mission, but if the experience you provide supporters is lackluster, it can have a lasting impact on donors’ perception of your organization and their willingness to support you again.

Thanking Your Giving Tuesday Donors 

The first step to optimizing the giving experience is to nail your thank you. If you’re using an online fundraising platform for Giving Tuesday, you likely have some kind of auto thank you and receipt, which is a great step. Remember though, these donors chose you over (or alongside) many other causes, so express your gratitude in a way that leaves an impression and makes them want to give to you again.

Here are some tips for following up with your supporters:

  • Customize your thank you and receipt for Giving Tuesday donors to explain the impact of their gifts. Add any specific details to help them feel that their gifts are making a tangible difference.
  • Go above and beyond. Consider a personalized email or comment on the activity wall of your campaign page to say thank you through a message that’s not just attached to a receipt. 
  • Consider calling donors who gave above a certain amount or made a repeat donation. If feasible, this personalized outreach can go a long way in helping supporters feel personally recognized by your nonprofit.  

In summary, a personalized thank you without an ask attached is a significant way to build stronger relationships with supporters, especially brand new ones.

Segmenting Your Giving Tuesday Donors  

We’ve found on the Classy platform that 31% of Giving Tuesday donors will return and give again in six months. Nonprofits have a big opportunity to bring these holiday donors back before the year-mark, but it majorly depends on how you communicate with and ask them. 

Giving Tuesday donors are choosing to support your organization on a day during which an abundance of other organizations are vying for their attention, so their deliberate choice makes them valuable and important to your nonprofit. All too often, though, organizations will take Giving Tuesday or year-end donors and drop them into a newsletter list and a standard donation appeal a few months later. 

How you segment your communications and appeals with your supporters matters. If someone feels compelled enough to support you on Giving Tuesday, treating them with some exclusivity can pay dividends. 

The most important segment to understand is if a Giving Tuesday donor was a first-time donor or repeat supporter. Both are important, but brand new donors should be treated with immense care as they decided to take action on your behalf for the first time. Segment these two cohorts.

Outside of first-time or repeat donors, other data points that can help you segment your lists include:

  • Location of donor
  • Gift amount
  • The specific program they supported
  • Whether they left a comment with their gift
  • Whether they sent an eCard to a loved one 

Establishing Your Outreach Strategy and Messaging  

Now that you’ve segmented your Giving Tuesday donors into the groups you deem most important, the next step is curating an effective ask and appeal. 

Keep in mind the following:

  • Donors tend to support specific programs. Sending appeals that focus on specific programs can go a very long way. If you use a fundraising platform like Classy, you can include a Program Designation selection on your donation form.
  • Not every supporter wants to simply make a one-time donation. Give your community flexibility by sending different types of appeals with varying degrees of support such as asking them to give, make a recurring donation, fundraise, volunteer, or share something with their network. When you give your supporters options, you can increase the likelihood they take action in some way.
  • In terms of messaging, acknowledging their first or previous gift and explaining the impact of that support makes it more likely they’ll give again. Show your donor how much their support means to you and the people you serve, and therefore what additional donations could mean.

Honesty and impact matter more than ever. Sharing with donors the programmatic impact that even small gifts can have on your mission is crucial.

The Impact of Your Ask 

Giving Tuesday donors can become extremely valuable supporters that could impact your organization for years to come. What’s to stop a Giving Tuesday donor from giving $50 this year and writing a $1,000 check next year? If you strategize how and when you reach out to these supporters, you could be stewarding donors who will support you for a lifetime, year after year.

In addition, focusing on a small recurring donation as your next ask can pay off in the long run. Recurring donors are over five times more valuable than one-time supporters, so consider making the ask to have them become a monthly supporter.

Finally, don’t forget about peer-to-peer fundraising. Organizations often follow up a donation with an ask for another donation, but fundraising enables supporters to raise more money than they would be able to give themselves. Create tailored asks for your Giving Tuesday donors during your next peer-to-peer campaign, or even market your DIY fundraising option to get their creative juices flowing on how they can fundraise for you whenever they want, throughout the year.

Giving Tuesday donors have the potential to become lifelong supporters of your organization. Use these tips to both follow up with these supporters from the most recent Giving Tuesday, and to prepare for next year. 

This is a guest post by Brad Chrisakis, director of training and enablement at Classy.

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