How to Work Ahead for a Successful Giving Tuesday Campaign

10 min
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profile picture of Classy blog contributor Will Schmidt
Will Schmidt

When any fundraising campaign ends, it’s crucial that you examine your results and see what to double down on or where to pivot strategy for future efforts. However, the nature of a Giving Tuesday campaign is different from your everyday fundraising initiative. It requires near-immediate follow-up action in order to capitalize on year-end fundraising, and that can halt a critical retrospective.

Then, before you know it, the holidays are past and you’re knee-deep in spring fundraising projects. At that point, you might have lost the opportunity to reflect on Giving Tuesday. Further, you might not want to focus on next year’s Giving Tuesday since it’s so far away.

But because Giving Tuesday is such a massive fundraising opportunity, you have to get started as soon as possible—as early as January or February. If you can do this, and continually take small actions over the course of the year, you can give yourself a sizable runway to ideate and design a truly effective Giving Tuesday campaign.

Below, we outline the steps you can take to get the ball rolling well in advance. Even if you can’t plan your Giving Tuesday campaign on a year-round basis, you can use this blog post as a reference point for the important things to cross off your list—no matter when you start.

For a more in-depth, expanded list of action items be sure to download our Giving Tuesday Master Checklist for free.

Download Your Giving Tuesday Master Checklist

Plan Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

Suggested timeframe: January through April

Before anything else, hold a campaign retrospective from your previous Giving Tuesday campaign. You’ll need to analyze what worked and what didn’t before you can start brainstorming new ideas for next year.

Additionally, you’ll want to place a heavy emphasis on retaining donors from last year while also securing sponsors for the year to come.

1. Hunt for Sponsors

We’re putting this line-item first because it’s one of the most important, and you need to start hunting for sponsors as early as possible. This process could take most of your year, so start now. Often, your end-goal of securing a sponsor is to establish a matching gift on your Giving Tuesday campaign.

Free Download: The Guide to Pitching Corporate Sponsors

This is perhaps the most competitive day of the year for nonprofits, which further underscores the need to get ahead of the curve as other nonprofits are also looking for sponsors. Plus, a sponsor can encourage donors to give to you over others and increase fundraising revenue. It’s also unlikely that a sponsor will be able to join in on a last-minute basis, or they may have already allocated funds to another organization.

2. Strengthen Donor Relationships

You likely saw a major influx of donors, both new and returning, who came to your Giving Tuesday campaign. It’s time to strengthen your relationship with first-time donors, returning donors, major gift fivers, and peer-to-peer fundraisers by sharing results of the campaign, writing thank you notes, and showcasing the impact of their involvement.

For new donors, specifically, make sure you acquaint them with your mission and provide them opportunities to stay active with your work throughout the year. For example, you can send them volunteer opportunities or notify them of upcoming campaigns. Like sponsorship hunting, retention efforts are something that you need to keep on year-round: it literally pays to retain donors, especially Giving Tuesday donors.

Free Download: The Donor Retention Handbook

3. Hold a Campaign Retrospective

Capture all the important insights from your Giving Tuesday campaign as early as possible, so they’re fresh in everyone’s mind, by hosting a campaign retrospective. Gather all team leads, key stakeholders, or other staff members who were involved to a meeting wherein you’ll review the campaign’s performance. Start on a high level by asking questions like:

  • Did you hit your goals?
  • How many press mentions did you secure?
  • Were there any massive issues that need to be addressed?
  • How did your audience respond?
  • What are the quantitative results of the campaign?

Then, drill down further into the team level to see how departments like design, marketing, and development performed. Have each function come prepared with all relevant information to their specific duties to ensure you get the full picture from your entire staff.

4. Kickoff Internal Planning

After you’ve wrapped up the previous year, you can start planning next year’s Giving Tuesday campaign. First and foremost, decide if you’re going to recommit to your campaign goal or determine a new direction. Once that’s set in stone, create a “source of truth” document that has everything relevant to your campaign preparation like budget, team responsibilities, and key stakeholders.

Last, ask your team to start preparing ideas and pitches for the upcoming campaign brainstorm. For example, the design team might have new ideas for what colors and aesthetic are most engaging while marketing thinks of ways to activate influencers to spread the campaign.

5. Start Your Brainstorm

To kickoff your brainstorm meeting, before anyone debuts their pitches, engage everyone’s creative brains by asking a few general questions like:

  • How can we differentiate ourselves from other nonprofits?
  • Are we providing a user experience that stewards people to complete their donation?
  • Can our campaign be more attention-grabbing? How?

Once the room is warmed up, have each team pitch their ideas for the new Giving Tuesday campaign. Remember, this is an opportunity for key stakeholders from across your nonprofit to come together and lend their expertise, critical eye, or twists to other teams. For example, if your design team pitches a page design refresh, your content team might have in-the-moment ideas for where they can contribute new copy in the layout.

Execute Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

Suggested time frame: May through August

After planning your campaign, it’s time to start executing on your ideas for the upcoming Giving Tuesday campaign. In this next phase, you’ll define the campaign narrative in a creative brief, build the official campaign page, and outline your communications.

1. Define Your Campaign Narrative

It’s crucial to officially set a campaign narrative that brings together all the work you’ve done in your retrospective, brainstorming, and goal setting. This literally defines the direction, story, and elements you’ll use to build the actual campaign page itself. It’s a good idea to include this campaign narrative in your “source of truth” document.

2. Plan Your Communications

For most nonprofits, the common communication channels are social media and email. Each has its own strengths, and they should be used in tandem to ensure you’re hitting your not missing any engagement opportunities with your audience.

When it comes to social media, you need to figure out which platform to prioritize. If your followers are on Instagram, appeal to them there. If they use all platforms, appeal on all platforms. From there, you have to determine when you’ll start promoting your campaign, how often you’ll promote it, and what images or assets you need for the posts.

Get 28 Free Giving Tuesday Social Media Templates

You also need to start defining your email segments, which are the different audience groups who will receive personalized appeals. For example, you could send returning donors an appeal to upgrade to a recurring gift, or you can send all recurring givers an email asking them to commit to a higher level. Like social media, define when you’ll start emailing people, how often, and any assets needed.

Get 10 Free Giving Tuesday Email Templates

3. Build Your Campaign Page

You can choose to either create a new campaign from scratch or duplicate your effort from last year and make tweaks to it. No matter what you do, you’ll want to have a fully prepared library of visual assets, the official campaign name, videos, logos, and copy for the page.

On Classy, you can launch a crowdfunding campaign—the most popular type of Giving Tuesday campaign—in just 10 minutes.  That gives you plenty of time to fine tune your vision and ask your team for feedback. Remember to test everything, like links, to ensure nothing is broken when it’s time to launch.

Launch Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

Suggested time frame: September through December

Once you hit September, you’re in the home stretch. In this final phase of planning, you will soft launch your campaign, draft all social media copy, set up your Giving Tuesday war room, hard launch your campaign, and then transition into year-end fundraising mode.

1. Soft Launch Your Campaign

Think of a soft launch like your final testing phase before you unveil your Giving Tuesday campaign to the entire public. Part of what makes a soft launch successful is the decision of who to soft launch to. Determine who you’d like to engage for this campaign, like lifelong supporters, board members, internal staff, or repeat donors. As a rule of thumb, the people you soft launch to should be dedicated to your nonprofit and passionate about your work.

After you’ve selected who you’ll soft launch to, reach out to them and inform them why you’ve chosen them—because you value their opinions—and a few specific asks. For example, you can ask them to donate early, share with their close personal networks, or give direct feedback on the page. In this way you can generate some early fundraising traction while simultaneously squashing any last minute bugs.

2. Write Social Media Content

Revisit the social media strategy you created and begin drafting your social media posts. Since it’s all mapped out, you’ll know precisely how many posts to write, which channels to tailor the content towards, and spend the majority of your brain power writing copy that inspires action.

With the help of a social media management tool like Buffer or Later, you can start scheduling your posts in advance. Now is also the time to ensure all of your graphic assets are either complete or near completion.

3. Plan Your War Room

A war room is a designated common space at your nonprofit headquarters for in-the-moment strategy on Giving Tuesday. Don’t invite every team member into the room, as it can get a bit noisy and crowded. Instead, prioritize a crack team of key stakeholders.

Those present in the war room should have assigned responsibilities relevant to their role, like monitoring social media channels or answering phones. Make sure you spruce up the room with snacks, fun music, and office supplies. Have everything set up at least one day prior to Giving Tuesday to ensure you can be fully present on the big day.

4. Hard Launch Your Campaign

It’s finally time: about a month before the big day let the entire world know your Giving Tuesday campaign is live and they can start donating. Make sure you let them know all the details around your launch, which should already be in a pre-written email that you can quickly hit “send” on after one final edit. Send your fundraising goal, matching gift information (because you locked down a sponsor early), and any fun incentives.

5. Crush Giving Tuesday

Early in the morning on Giving Tuesday, make any last-minute adjustments to your campaign. This could include small copy tweaks, uploading final assets, or scheduling the last of your social media posts or emails. However, if you’re prepared far enough in advance, you should be able to ease into the day with minimal updates required.

As you watch the donations roll in, gather the assets needed to “flip” your Giving Tuesday campaign into a year-end fundraising campaign.

6. Transition After Giving Tuesday

Take a moment to celebrate all your hard work, but don’t rest on your heels because there’s still some wrap-up work to be done. Communicate back to all of your supporters to thank them for their gifts, share results of your Giving Tuesday campaign, and inform them of the impact they’ve made. Then, once you officially flip your campaign to year-end, make a hard ask for them to re-commit and donate again to end the year strong.

That’s your year, wrapped! Now scroll back to the top of the post and get ready to start again next year. Or, download the Giving Tuesday Master Checklist below for even more guidance on specific action items to tackle throughout the year.


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