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Supercharge Your 2017 #GivingTuesday Campaign: Do These 9 Things NOW!

Production Solutions

Five years ago, an ambitious idea for a designated day of giving came to fruition. #GivingTuesday was born out of a collective of fundraisers, strategists, and other social do-gooders and it raised $12 million in its first year. In 2016, that number surpassed $170 million. In fact, the once blip-on-the-fundraising-radar has turned into a movement with serious velocity, growing by more than 44% in each of the past two years and expected by some analysts to generate over $250 million this year.  

Clearly, the time for ignoring or questioning the value of #GivingTuesday has passed—and the time for planning to make the most of this once-a-year opportunity has come! Here are a few tips and best practices you should consider for your campaign:

  1. Determine your WHY.
    It’s easy to get caught up in the digital machinations of #GivingTuesday—but don’t let your case for giving get lost. Your donors need to feel an emotional connection to your organization and your cause. They need to know why and how their gift makes a difference, especially at this time of year. That basic fact never changes, and remembering it will strengthen every donation ask, on #GivingTuesday and beyond.
  2. Look at the Big Picture.
    Think of #GivingTuesday as a kick-off to your end-of-year fundraising efforts. You have a strategic communications plan for your donors and prospects alike that includes a mix of direct mail and online communications, and that plan probably includes cultivation, engagement, and fundraising messages. You know how to build a relationship that results in long-term support. While #GivingTuesday is primarily a one day, one channel opportunity (and only one piece of your overall strategy), putting it in context as the first of your year-end efforts can help you set realistic goals for your campaign and kick-off the giving season on a high note.
  3. Set a SMART goal.
    It’s okay to say you’re raising funds to support your mission, but it’s not “SMART,” that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. A more compelling goal is tangible, one in which donors can see the impact of their gift. For example, “Help First Book put books in the hands of 25,000 children before the end of this year! Your $15 gift buys 5 books for kids who need them most.”
  4. Test and Refine Your Donation Form.
    Well before #GivingTuesday, make sure your form is tested and fine-tuned. Running an A/B test to find out which form layout, copy, and design performs best can often result in a conversion lift of 20% or more. Also, introducing a completely new form design for #GivingTuesday can create confusion or mistrust in your existing donors and cause them to abandon the page.
  5. Get Serious About Social.
    The abundance of social sharing around the day (2.4 million interactions) provides an opportunity to acquire new donors, so make sure you are well-positioned to benefit from that. A few must-haves are:
  • Create a strategic calendar leading up to the big push that includes a “mark your calendar” reminder and #GivingTuesday-themed messages.  
  • Have fun with your messaging by giving it a theme or clever branding (as long as it ties in with your org i.e., #GivingSHOESday). This will create a build-up around the campaign in your social channels, and get donors excited about your goal.
  • This is a day to focus on posting like no other. Obviously, post links to your donation page early and often, but also: post updates on progress toward your goal. Use “at” mentions in posts and tweets to publicly thank donors. Don’t be afraid of oversharing!
  • Promote #GivingTuesday sharing on the acknowledgement page of every donation form and autoresponder throughout the day and for 2-3 days on either side of it.
  • Recruit social ambassadors and empower them with tools like great images/graphics and videos to share with their networks.
  • Promote the #UNselfie hashtag and have your ambassadors take the lead with their posts

Remember, bringing in new donors now (at any level) builds your file and affords you the opportunity to shepherd them on the path to a long-term relationship.

  1. Email Before, During, and After
    Email plays an important role in every campaign, and is still the number one driver of online revenue. At PS Digital, we typically recommend at least 3-4 messages for #GivingTuesday, and many organizations are choosing to get a jump on things, in the same way that Black Friday retailers open their doors in the wee hours of the morning. Here are a few best practices for getting the most out of your email appeals:
  • Introduce your list to #GivingTuesday a few weeks before the actual day.
  • Segment your list to ensure the highest level of deliverability and engagement.
  • Build your emails to display and function well on any size screen (it’s likely that 50% of your audience will open it from their phone).  
  • Use a CTA with a specific ask. Think “Give a Child a Book Today” vs. the more generic, “Donate Now.”
  1. Utilize Matching Gifts
    Campaigns with matching or challenge gifts do better than those without, and #GivingTuesday is no different. You might also experiment with an “unlock” challenge. For example, “We need 250 gifts to unlock a $50,000 match!”
  2. Supplement with Paid Ads
    Retargeting campaigns can be effective for reaching website visitors, as they have already expressed some interest in your organization. If someone was on your website within the past week or two, a well-placed ad reminding them of your organization’s goal on #GivingTuesday might be enough to bring them back.
  3. Use a Lightbox (modal popup) on your Website
    On average, donations via lightboxes contribute 25 – 30% to our clients’ campaign results; and studies from the public broadcasting sector (as well as Unbounce) show that a lightbox can increase conversion by 80 – 100%.

Bottom Line

Some say #GivingTuesday is like a “Hallmark holiday,” nothing more than a made up excuse to ask donors to give. Nonetheless, you’ll be wise to buy mom that card on Mother’s Day and send flowers to your sweetie on Valentine’s Day. Made up holiday or not, #GivingTuesday is here to stay and has the potential to impact your program through increased revenue, new donors, and high constituent engagement.  

Ultimately, it isn’t about making a lot of noise on a single day—it’s about building the kind of relationship with your donors that, when #GivingTuesday rolls around, your organization is the first one that comes to mind.

Nearly two million people will donate on #GivingTuesday this year. Make sure your organization is on the receiving end of their generosity. Visit the #GivingTuesday website to join the movement and access resources and Tool Kits, and contact PS Digital for help in making 2017 your best #GivingTuesday yet.