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Webinar: Insider Tips for #GivingTuesday


By Allison Gauss

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you want to run a great #GivingTuesday campaign, you should learn from the best. Thankfully, Classy brought together one of the #GivingTuesday founders, a fundraising all-star MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and the Classy account management team for a webinar full of strategies and tips.

Our hosts were Asha Curran, #GivingTuesday founder and director of the Center for Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y; Cari Uslan, director of development at MAZON; Classy’s lead account manager, Stina Rubin; and Classy founder and CEO, Scot Chisholm.

Here we give a broad overview with key tips from the webinar but you can also watch the full presentation below.

The History and Growth of #GivingTuesday

A young tradition, #GivingTuesday was founded in 2012 to bring giving back to the giving season. Founders at the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation created a global day of giving on the Tuesday following Black Friday.

Asha from #GivingTuesday emphasized that the event was always intended to be as inclusive as possible. “We are agnostic in terms of cause, in terms of platform. It’s really about getting people to talk about giving and actually spur philanthropic giving,” she said.

In just a few years, the event has exploded in size and scope. In 2014, over 30,000 nonprofit organizations, agencies, and corporations participated in 68+ countries. And the event’s media presence is just as massive. The hashtag #GivingTuesday trended for over 11 hours and generated 15.4 billion global impressions on traditional and social media. Quick reminder: there are about 7 billion people on planet Earth.

But #GivingTuesday is not just idle slacktivism.In 2014, the event raised over $45 million.

It’s not just people tweeting and people posting on Facebook. People are actually reaching into their pockets.” – Asha Curran

Classy and #GivingTuesday

In 2014, #GivingTuesday fundraising on the Classy platform doubled year over year and the average gift size increased to $101.28. Classy CEO Scot Chisholm is particularly excited to see organizations “using #GivingTuesday as an opportunity not only to launch end-of-year giving, but also to bring new people into the fold.”

Many of our nonprofit partners experienced a significant boost in 2014. Thirty different organizations raised over $5,000 each, with many more raising thousands as well. Eager to give back, Classy refunded $15,000 in transaction fees on #GivingTuesday. We will waive our transaction fees again on #GivingTuesday this year.

MAZON: A #GivingTuesday Success Story

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger has been a power player in #GivingTuesday since 2013. In the first year they participated they set a goal to raise $10,000 to fight senior hunger. The campaign didn’t go exactly according to plan. They actually raised over $60,000.

“Having a restricted campaign worked really well for us. Also setting a specific goal … was really helpful,” said Cari, MAZON’s development director. In 2014, they raised $54,000 to fight rural hunger and they will soon announce this year’s featured program.

Cari also noted that MAZON did not see a dropoff in year-end giving when they fundraised for #GivingTuesday. The giving day actually complemented and added to their December results. Asha chimed in with some data showing that this is a common experience.

People who participated at all in #GivingTuesday saw their donations for all of December rise almost 7 percent and their online donations in particular almost twenty percent.” – Asha Curran

An important part of MAZON’s success was their communications strategy to reach supporters before, during, and after #GivingTuesday. “We start our promotions, typically, at the beginning of November,” said Cari. The organization knows the value of social media exposure, and along with posting appeals and campaign updates, MAZON also calls on influential supporters to post and has experimented with Facebook ads.

Why You Should Participate

Even with encouraging examples like this, some social impact organizations are still hesitant to get involved. Some are afraid that they’ll just get lost in the shuffle, but the evidence shows that #GivingTuesday is good for the entire sector. Besides the fact that participating in #GivingTuesday doesn’t seem to drag down year-end fundraising, the large increase in fundraising organizations is being met with huge increases in funds raised.

As account manager Stina said, “the rising water raises all ships.” By participating and promoting #GivingTuesday, you help not only your organization, but the social sector as a whole.

But the benefits aren’t restricted to dollars and cents. Asha pointed out that #GivingTuesday has become an “opportunity to experiment with storytelling, to really talk about what it is that you do in new and creative ways.” With stories through campaign hashtags, Instagram, or unselfies (a selfie that tells why you give to a cause) nonprofits and their supporters can create a more compelling and participatory giving experience.

Ways to Participate

The webinar also covers some of the different ways organizations can raise awareness and funds on #GivingTuesday. MAZON’s campaign is an example of a stand-alone campaign, a 24-hour fundraising initiative for either general operations or a specific program. Here are some other ways to maximize your campaigns:

  • Matching gifts are a powerful way to motivate donors. When you secure a matching partner, donors feel empowered to help because they know their gift will have twice the impact.
  • Nonprofits can set themselves up for ongoing revenue by recruiting recurring donors on #GivingTuesday.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising allows your most devoted supporters to appeal to their social network to fundraise.

Since year-end giving is such an important development initiative, consider using the power and reach of #GivingTuesday to launch your end-of-year campaign. Starting strong on the global giving day gives a fundraising campaign momentum going into the holiday season.

Strategic Marketing

The presenters wrapped up the webinar by covering how to market your campaign and communicate with supporters. In early November, “we will post on social media, via Facebook and Twitter primarily: ‘Don’t forget! #GivingTuesday is coming up,’” Cari said. These first posts plant the seed in donors’ minds and build anticipation. One or two weeks before #GivingTuesday, MAZON sends supporters the first email about the event and sends another on Black Friday to remind donors of the coming giving day.

Cari also suggests sending three emails on the day of #GivingTuesday, one at about 5 a.m., another in the afternoon, and a final email in the evening. Remember to use your email system to track who has made a gift and remove them from the day’s future appeals.

MAZON’s #GivingTuesday donors receive the requisite thank you, but the organization also sends a special update on what the campaign accomplishes. Planning your communication timeline makes promoting and fundraising on #GivingTuesday that much easier.

Whatever your cause sector, size, or location, #GivingTuesday is for you. Start planning your campaign and communications now and you will be ready to have your best giving day yet. We have already learned so much in the first few years of #GivingTuesday, and the coming years will reveal new ways to engage the public and mobilize donors.

These are some of the key points covered in the webinar, but to get all these experts’ strategies and tips, watch the full recording.

Classy Webinar #GivingTuesday

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