4 Problems With Giving Tuesday & How to Address Them

Today #GivingTuesday will be trending on Twitter and filling Facebook news feeds. It will also be prominently featured on both new and traditional media outlets. In general terms, this is a good thing. It puts the ideas of charity and philanthropy into the main of public discourse. However, unlike Black Friday or Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday has a few challenges that, left un-addressed, will doom its long-term success.

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are attractive to consumers because retailers give added incentives to purchase goods on those days. Even though many of the deals and discounts offered can be had for less other times during the year, the abundance of deals makes shopping on this day ideal for those that have been on the fence in making a large purchase and need an extra push to open up their pocketbooks.

The four problems with Giving Tuesday are that:

  • Many non-profits don’t offer any extra incentive for donors to act compared to any other day
  • Outside of the actual donation, non-profit requests don’t make meaningful linkages back to the season of giving
  • Aside from leveraging the increased media attention with increased requests, organizations don’t make it any easier for donors to take action compared to other days
  • Unlike Black Friday “doorbusters” and Cyber Monday “coupon codes,” #GivingTuesday gifts will not have any more impact than normal

Here are ways to address these issues for your organization so you can rise above the fray on #GivingTuesday, and make the donor experience necessary, memorable, sustainable, and impactful.

1) Many non-profits don’t offer any extra incentive for donors to act compared to any other day

If your goal is simply to get more of your existing supporters to give on a certain day, then don’t change anything. However, if you want to use #GivingTuesday as a way to increase the size of gifts from current donors and the total of news donors, then you need to give a compelling reason why giving on this particular day is critical.

This “urgency of need” should exist in your case statement. When appealing based on immediacy, your #GivingTuesday appeal is more likely to give donors an incentive to give out of necessity. Make sure to communicate why a gift today is more critical than the same gift tomorrow. If this element does not exist in your case for support, go back and revise it. If you use #GivingTuesday to communicate the necessity for a immediate gift, then you will see larger gifts from current supporters and a larger occurrence of new donors.

2) Outside of the actual donation, non-profit requests don’t make meaningful linkages back to the season of giving

The holiday season gives us an excuse to do something nice for others. Often this takes the form of giving gifts to those closest to us. The motives for charitable giving are similar to these interpersonal exchanges, however most non-profit models put a wall between the donor and the impact of their gift. Non-profits can address this on #GivingTuesday in two ways.

First consider your program and infrastructure for honorary and memorial gifts and make improvements to make these types of gifts more robust and meaningful for the donor as well as the honoree. Doing so will help your donors use #GivingTuesday to share what you are doing with others in a personally meaningful way.

Second, strengthen the connection between donor and impact. This approach will appeal to Generation X and Millennials, who exhibit a desire to have a more direct connection between gift and impact. Both exercises will use #GivingTuesday as a way to increase the audience of potential donors and make the value of your mission more memorable for your supporters.

3) Aside from leveraging the increased attention with increased requests, organizations don’t make it any easier for donors to take action compared to other days

Since #GivingTuesday is largely a Internet-based giving movement, your online giving infrastructure will see increased traffic and the potential to lose well-intentioned donors increases. Before launching your #GivingTuesday appeals, make sure visitors to your giving portal will not be burdened with complicated forms, processes, or options.

Donors should be able to quickly visit your site, make a donation, be given a choice for follow-up communication preferences, and the opportunity to designate the gift in honor of a loved one. That’s it. Consider building a specialized page just for #GivingTuesday gifts so other page elements don’t distract donors from the main reason they visited your site in the first place… to make a gift. You can always offer opportunities for deeper engagement through the stewardship process as you build a sustainable relationship with new supporters.

4) Unlike Black Friday “doorbusters” and Cyber Monday “coupon codes,” #GivingTuesday gifts will not have any more impact than normal

This is perhaps the biggest difference between the days designated for for-profit and non-profit sectors. Since giving is on the mind, a day designated for giving may make others more likely to take action on this particular day. #GivingTuesday can be used as an opportunity to do two things that will have a long-term impact.

Use #GivingTuesday not as an excuse to find new donors, but as a reason for existing supporters to share with others the importance of your organization and why they give in support of it. Make available collections of media that your supporters can easily share such as info-graphics, video shorts, donor stories, stories from those touched by gifts. Basically, use #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to let your supporters tell the story of the organization. You provide the tools, they provide the time and audience.

Take a page out of the book of retailers. Embrace the consumer mindset of increased “bang for the buck.” Use today to issue a challenge to recent donors to make another gift with increased impact. Leverage #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to promote your existing or new matching gift programs. This could also be a prime opportunity for you to encourage donors to take advantage of corporate gift matching programs.

To help encourage the success of #GivingTuesday for the future, I will re-tweet examples that exhibit an understanding of the above recommended items with the #GivTuesWIN hashtag, and I encourage you to do the same

About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler, CFRE, ACFRE has a keen interest in understanding the connection between culture and the practice of philanthropy. His experiences working with international nonprofit organizations, extensive international travel, together with his graduate work at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and leadership roles with local nonprofits combine to produce his expertise in this area. He’s also a big baseball fan.

Mohler is the Assistant Vice President for Major and Planned Gifts at Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to his current role, he held key roles with The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), Advanced Certified Fundraising Professional (ACFRE), and serves AFP at an international level, including his current role chairing the publishing committee for the AFP Fund Development Series.

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