Last year, nonprofits raised over $1.9 billion on Giving Tuesday, with $511 million of that coming from online sources. This year, Giving Tuesday is on December 1 and, as with nearly everything else this year, it will likely look different than in past years. Because Giving Tuesday is typically a central part of nonprofits’ end-of-year campaigns, low returns could prove detrimental to charities already facing the arduous challenge of operating during both a pandemic and recession. It is more important than ever for those nonprofits to effectively present their mission, culture, and impact, making clear why they are worthy of support. A strong communications strategy will undoubtedly be integral to any successful end-of-year fundraising push.   

Predictions: What is Giving Tuesday going to look like?  

During this giving season in particular, there is a lot of need for charitable contributions. With so many organizations relying on strong end-of-year fundraising, there will be a lot of competing calls-to-action and potentially less money to go around. Given the economic insecurity many have experienced over the past few months, it’s fair to assume that donors will not be as deep-pocketed as usual. According to research from Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, only 35% of donors are planning to donate “the same as last year.”  

However, looking at the end-of-year giving season as a whole, donors who have the funds may be even more motivated than usual by the hope that nonprofit work generates, and accordingly make generous gifts. Regardless, larger organizations that have access to more resources will presumably have a much easier time than smaller organizations that rely on grassroots support. Newer organizations and organizations that have historically had weaker end-of-year turnout will especially need to work on relationship-building and messaging to stand out. 

Best Practices and Recommendations 

Put in the time to prepare early on 

Set realistic goals up front. You need to have benchmarks to evaluate your success along the way and at the end of your campaign. Likewise, it is wise to create a strategic communications plan ahead of time to guide your efforts. This plan should be flexible enough to be adjusted in accordance with how well you are doing on the way to achieving your goals. Although you cannot predict potential external disturbances (e.g., from the pandemic, politics, natural disasters, etc.), your plan needs to be agile enough to allow you to maneuver through such crises. 

Hone your messaging 

Stay consistent with your brand identity and mission. Focus on what your organization does well. If it fits into your overall communications strategy, feel free to talk about what is going on in the country and the communities you serve, and how this has affected your organization and those whom you help.  

Give a tangible purpose for your ask. The crowdfunding mindset became a mainstay because people like to rally around specific objectives. Instead of asking supporters to fund general operating costs, try asking supporters to help you reach/grow a certain metric, expand in a particular way, continue to meet these needs, etc. 

Be intentional with your communication tactics  

Popular tactics like time-limited matching gifts are effective. Personal stories with an emotional appeal that people can connect with are usually well received. Make sure to use these appeals to clearly convey your organizational successes. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; if there is a tactic you have used in the past that works well for you, try to adapt it for our weird times. Given the circumstances of 2020, it may be wise to have multiple pushes around the end of the year rather than relying on one big push for Giving Tuesday and another right before New Year’s Eve.  

Given the growing portion of Giving Tuesday fundraising online, digital strategy will be particularly important. According to the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report, the communications tools most likely to inspire donors to give are email, social media, and websites. When utilizing these channels, make sure that you are reaching out to the right targets at a pace that keeps them engaged. When done correctly, your digital presence should establish and grow relationships and loyalty for your cause.  

Additional Resources