November 17, 2015
“Black Friday. Cyber Monday. #GivingTuesday.” More than 30,000 organizations world-wide have joined this initiative. Should yours?
The answer is not a simple one. Many organizations report raising significant dollars in that one day, acquiring new donors galore, or successfully leveraging donor challenge gifts for the initiative. But others question the commitment level of those donors, if the ROI for staff effort is worth it, and how to stand out among the thousands of nonprofits that solicit donors on that day.
Ultimately the question to consider is this: Your organization is seeking to build support throughout the year, not just on one day. Does #GivingTuesday complement or complicate your efforts?
The following questions can help you evaluate how effective the day may be for your organization.
- Are you ready to commit the time and team to the effort?
This is not the traditional face-to-face-solicitation-when-the-time-is-right practice. You are seeking immediate action. Are you prepared to put the time and people-power into making sure your appeal is directed to targeted constituents with a creative but compelling request to make a gift now?
- How will your organization stand out?
Thousands of organizations will be promoting their mission around #GivingTuesday, perhaps to many of the same prospects you hope to reach. Will your video / graphic / tweet / matching opportunity grab someone’s attention enough to act?
- What is the purpose of your organization’s participation?
Make sure your intentions are clear. Is this an acquisition event for you? Are you looking to bring a specific need or issue to the forefront? Are you trying to mobilize certain constituencies to engage with you in a different way?
- Who is your target audience?
Do you know who are trying to reach (e.g., new, non-, and lapsed donors)? Will any of your constituencies be offended if you don’t include them?
- How will your donors react?
If you are a school, for instance, will your potential donors resist being asked to choose among “charities” and “our school”? Or, if your organization is absent on that day, will your donors wonder why you didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to gain visibility?
- How will you measure ROI?
Just as you do for direct mail appeals and special events, you must be sure to know your goals and track your results connected to #GivingTuesday – and compare the amount raised against the time and resources expended. If your foray into this event is just to build brand awareness, be prepared to implement social media metrics to evaluate your success.
- Can you incorporate this into a broader year-end appeal?
#GivingTuesday should not replace your year-end appeals. Ideally, it is the match that lights the fire for a donor prospect when they are writing their late-December checks. Could your #GivingTuesday effort be directed to a specific need, so that your year-end appeals continue to focus on broader support or unrestricted giving?
- What is your stewardship plan?
What will you do to thank and retain your #GivingTuesday donors? How will you continue to educate them on your organizational mission and efforts after #GivingTuesday ends? Make sure you have a thoughtful plan on how to build upon the relationships formed on that day.
-Patricia B. House, Ed.D., Senior Vice President