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Your Giving Tuesday Strategy: 5 Decisions That Matter


Problem: Since 2012, Giving Tuesday has only grown, and more people know about it. And while that's great, it also created a challenging situation. In short, your donors know about the idea—it's no longer new, so you need to do more to attract their support.

Opportunity: While donors now understand that many nonprofits will ask for Giving Tuesday, you could still raise more funds. All you have to do is know the realities about the day and mitigate any downside.

Resolution: Learn five decisions that matter for Giving Tuesday. And find out what no one is telling you about the year-end fundraising. Once you know it, you have the tools to focus your plan sharply. Ultimately, you want to use the holiday season to your advantage to scale your cause.



It's that time of year again. In short, as we race into the holiday season, and social good groups need to raise funds to shore up their budgets. After an exceedingly tough year, understanding the Giving Tuesday ideas and decisions you need to know could make a significant impact on your cause.

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking in a webinar with the team at the largest shoe drive fundraising company in North America. If you'd like to download the free material, including the webinar, audio, and deck, CLICK HERE.

Three Things to Understand About Giving Tuesday

As you get your Giving Tuesday ideas sorted, wrap your mind around the fact that Giving Tuesday is no longer new. So, why does that matter? It's simple. Donors may see the day and year-end as just another fundraising plea, impacting your business revenue growth.

In other words, you have to work smarter. You have donors who know they will get asked for money. And you also have loads of nonprofits fundraising along with you.

1. Fundraisers need to segment donors.

I know we've spoken about this in the nonprofit sector for years, but people expect personalization in the digital world. It's a given. So, you have to think of how you will attract support for Giving Tuesday, and year-round, in ways that will attract different segments of donors. No, Gen Z does not care about the same messages as Gen X does, nor do they respond in the same ways.

2. Personalization does not only mean how you relate to donors, but how you convey your message.

In other words, you have to develop Giving Tuesday ideas and strategies that work for you. It's easy to be a "me too" nonprofit and follow everyone else. But you have to be loyal to your brand and how you operate. Don't pretend to be who you're not. Still, you want to innovate and adapt to the digital age.

3. Finally, the flip side of everyone knowing about Giving Tuesday is that it serves as a reminder to donate.

2020 was a challenging year. Many groups didn't make budgets, but many others did. How? They conveyed strong and compelling messaging and reminded people of those in need. Year-end is the time of year for nonprofits to get their messages out into their communities.

Five Decisions That Determine Your Success of Failure

Because millions of people know about Giving Tuesday, it means that you need to be more strategic. As always, that starts with planning and making critical decisions that will ensure your success—or failure. Once something is not new anymore, people get used to it, and it gets minimized in their minds, or at least it becomes another event they already know. Therefore, you need to keep things fresh for them. The following 5 decisions will make all the difference for your organization.

1. Is Giving Tuesday part of your year-end fundraising or entirely separate?

When Giving Tuesday started, it focused on a particular day in the calendar. Because of it, many nonprofits got used to looking at it as a one-day event. However, savvy organizations see it differently.

Understanding that the holiday season is the quarter where many nonprofits make the most money, integrating Giving Tuesday into year-end fundraising could reap great rewards. Instead of treating it as a one-day event, incorporate it fully into your year-end fundraising, mainly to get donors to become recurring donors or give an additional gift. By coordinating all emails, social media, and marketing around the idea of the Giving Tuesday season, you provide a donor-centric experience, which offers more opportunities for support.


So, think of the day of Giving Tuesday as a micro-burst of energy for an integrated year-end fundraising effort.

Remember, Giving Tuesday is not the end-all fundraising. It's just a piece of your fundraising puzzle.

2. Will you seek to offer restricted or unrestricted giving options?

Fundraisers understand that tension exists between asking for unrestricted and restricted funds. Most nonprofits prefer unrestricted fundraising dollars, which allow them to spend the funds as needed. However, donors often choose to restrict their giving. And with younger generations wanting to do more restricted giving, there's a greater tension.


Thus, one of the most fundamental questions nonprofits need to address around Giving Tuesday ideas and strategies is how they will position their fundraising asks to ensure greater financial flexibility.

This is especially true because, in recent years, the philanthropic world moved from organization-centric giving to impact-investing philanthropy. In other words, major and general gift donors want to see a measurable impact, and dated ideas for ongoing charitable support no longer matter. Giving is based on whoever gets results—for-profit or nonprofit.

3. Will you seek recurring or single gifts for the Giving Tuesday season?

As we know, 2020 was a year for the record books. However, uncertainty is not ending anytime soon. In fact, it is now a fundamental ingredient of the business and social environments. It remains unclear if, in 2021, or when in 2021, additional PPP loans will be available. So, while the stock market continues its somewhat bullish outlook, economic pain in Main Street remains.


Therefore, as you work through your Giving Tuesday ideas, at the moment, it may make sense to focus on membership or recurring giving instead of one-time giving.

This gives you the opportunity to focus on one-time givers—people who have demonstrated a propensity to support your cause—and lift them to a membership-based giving level. Fundraising is about relationship-building, and for the moment, a focus on the longer-term for ongoing support is a really smart move.

4. What role will digital acquisition play for your organization?

As fundraisers know, donor acquisition is an essential part of a robust fundraising program. However, again, Giving Tuesday is now a mature movement. In other words, the chances of your organization picking up new donors because of Giving Tuesday has declined since its inception.

In 2012 - 2015, many people who may not have been philanthropic or consistent donors wanted to be part of this big global event. But now, millions know about it, and it's no longer the shiny new toy. So, chances are those who are charitably-minded already know who they want to support. And, if people are not socially are not philanthropically-minded, they won't start suddenly supporting an organization now.


Therefore, a strong focus should be to re-engage with lapsed donors, boost your retention, and move to upgrade current supporters to increase revenue.

5. How will you measure results for Giving Tuesday?

Finally, measurement is essential for Giving Tuesday. As I mentioned earlier in this post, some (but few) organizations treat Giving Tuesday as a single day. Most treat it as a fundraising event that spans over a period of time. Regardless, measurement of Giving Tuesday is vital. Therefore, the final decision that matters is how you intend to measure the impact of Giving Tuesday on your fundraising.


Many groups have moved beyond measuring just the 24 hours of the day to 7 to 10 days.

Also, they place Giving Tuesday somewhere in the middle of that measurement time because there are donors who will support in advance of the day, on the day, and post-Giving Tuesday. No matter what, determine your measurement window, which will help you in your messaging and challenging donors to support your cause.

Two Vital Lessons for Why People Donate During Giving Tuesday

In 2020, Giving Tuesday could play a pivotal role in the fundraising strategy for many nonprofits. In the webinar, I discussed the decisions you need to make to impact your revenue if you get them right. So, do make sure to download the content directly from this Dropbox folder.

That said, in this article, I want to focus on two other fundamentals for attracting fundraising support. When nonprofits get this right, they not only succeed in their fundraising efforts, but they scale their nonprofits, which is vital in today's world. Sure, small grassroots organizations will play a vital role. But when there's replication, and you have competitors doing the same mission, you need to grow to scale.

Two reasons exist why donors will support your Giving Tuesday ideas and contribute to you throughout the year.

1. Trust in the Organization, Including in Fundraising.

Unfortunately, trust in nonprofits has declined. Sure, we live at a time where there's a lot of distrust in our institutions. But, one place where you don't want that to happen is within the nonprofit sector, which is why Giving Tuesday could quickly become just another day. The social good industry is a safety-net for countless people and families. Still, nonprofits do have challenges. Our society has had to deal with nonprofit leaders who don't understand how to build financial firewalls within their organizations.

You also have nonprofits who haven't focused on cybersecurity. Sure enough, donor fundraising data has been stolen. In today's world, with hackers, nonprofit leaders can't leave security to chance. But more importantly, at a time of transparency, nonprofits have to demonstrate themselves as good stewards of donor information and support. It's easy for contributors to do simple due diligence on nonprofits with all of the digital available.


The most effective nonprofit leaders understand that transparency is an essential and competitive advantage.

2. Supporting the Leadership of a Nonprofit

The second element that helps to secure donor fundraising support is the leadership at a nonprofit. Trust in an organization goes hand-in-hand with good leadership. You can't have one without the other. For example, if you have a reckless leader who doesn't know what it takes to run a good nonprofit, he or she will lose the trust of the people around them on their team. Eventually, donors get the drift, which could impact Giving Tuesday, and undoubtedly overall fundraising.

On a final note, when it comes to fundraising, I think donor fatigue has set in. People are tired of hearing that there's one problem after another that never gets resolved.


Instead, I think now's the time when nonprofit leaders have to focus on the good they do.

Charity: Water, for instance, does an excellent job of demonstrating hope in everything they communicate to donors. That's because it's got solid leadership that isn't following the rest of the sector. Instead, it's innovating and going against the grain of how traditional people think nonprofits should operate.

Those efforts build team trust, and inevitably it also creates donor support that goes well beyond Giving Tuesday.



Ben Stroup is Chief Growth Architect and President at Velocity Strategy Solutions where he helps leaders design, develop, and deploy smarter business growth strategies. Ben is a futurist, disruptor, and data champion. He leads a team that takes a structured learning approach to business challenges, which allows them to assist leaders in bridging the gap between ideas, innovation, and revenue—taking ideas from mind to market.

Velocity Strategy Solutions is an on-demand, next-generation business strategy and management consulting firm which provides clients with a relentless focus on data, execution, and results that positively impact the bottom line. Velocity delivers integrated people and revenue strategies combined with a disciplined approach to growth architecture that elevates the capacity of leaders, teams, and organizations to succeed and win more.

Topics:   Growth