A Simple Guide for a Productive Giving Tuesday – Part 1

It’s that time of year again. Fundraising events are in full swing, year-end appeals are being drafted, and nonprofit professionals everywhere are working tirelessly to boost their year-end fundraising. In the midst of this chaos, a well-intentioned colleague or board member is usually bound to ask “So, what are your plans for Giving Tuesday?” No matter how you feel about Giving Tuesday, there is no question that its popularity is growing and simply ignoring it is likely to the detriment of your organization. However, engaging in a Giving Tuesday campaign doesn’t have to complicated, expensive, or disproportionately time consuming. In this article, we’ll discuss how to target the ideal audience and choose the best tools to leverage for your campaign. Next time, we’ll lay out a simple communications plan and ways your organization can incentivize donors to give.

The Audience

As my Marketing 101 professor always said, “it’s all about the who.” As with any fundraising/marketing communication, you must identify “who” you are targeting. When you understand “who,” you can customize and cater your communications content and mode to reach them. A great article about this topic is Donor Insights You Need to Know for Giving Tuesday. In short, the research shows that your Giving Tuesday donors are not your average year-end giver. The best strategy is to remove your top year-end donors from your Giving Tuesday campaign communications. You don’t want to encourage them to give a smaller amount than they would have given otherwise (aka “tipping”) or, at the very least, you don’t want to needlessly send them another solicitation.  Likewise, your Giving Tuesday crowd likely won’t respond as well to a highly personalized year end mailer if they have never given to you via check. It is more effective to treat each group as their own segment.

Here are some helpful suggestions on whom to include/exclude from your Giving Tuesday segment:


  • Individuals who are active on your organization’s social media and email marketing platforms
  • Their average gift is $100 or less
  • Given to past online campaigns
  • Given via credit card or EFT


Exclude ***

  • History of giving in the last week of the calendar year
  • Individuals who have never given online (only check or cash) and whose average gift is $250+
  • Individuals who have given for the first time in the last month
  • Individuals who have given a gift of $250 or more in the last 2 months


The Tools

Now that you have your audience, the next step is to use your best internal tools to reach that group. In general, your tools or “mode of communication” tends to produce a parallel response. For example, paper mailers will produce paper responses (i.e., checks/cash in the mail). Digital tools, like social media and email marketing, tend to produce likes, shares, and hopefully, an online donation. Since Giving Tuesday is primarily celebrated digitally, your focus should be to raise online donations through digital tools:

Email Marketing (Mailchimp, Hubspot, Constant Contact, etc.)

Outside of direct mail, most organizations use some form of mass email communications to reach their community. Aside from being significantly cheaper, email marketing tools enable nonprofits to see the level of engagement from each contact which in turn allows nonprofits to focus content to the recipient. In fact, individuals who are the most engaged with your organizations email campaigns are likely your best prospects, your most committed donors, and your best audience for Giving Tuesday. Importantly, it has been shown that email marketing far out paces social media with regards to conversion rates (the number of donations that result per ask) and return on investment (dollar raised per dollar spent). In an ideal world, your Donor CRM would integrate with your email marketing software so that you could easily identify and pull out the “excluded” people above. If your CRM doesn’t, I would highly suggest running a list of your top YE donors from your CRM and simply tagging those individuals in your email marketing software. That will allow you to pull those profiles out of the campaign emails.

Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snackbuzz, etc.)

There are so many platforms these days that it can be hard to keep up. Case in point, when you read “Snackbuzz” above, did it spark a bit of terror in you? Don’t worry, I made that one up. 😊 Regardless, the constant steam of applications like LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, WhatsApp, etc. can cause many nonprofit professionals to throw their hands in the air in frustration. Although understandable, based on the number of millennials and older that use it (who also have greatest giving capacity) Facebook is currently the best social media site for your organization to invest its resources. If for some reason your mission lends well to visual imagery (schools, international organizations, animal shelters, etc.), Instagram can also be a worthwhile site for increasing engagement and awareness of the organization. While your Giving Tuesday campaign should include social media, social media is more important for promoting the campaign. Email Marketing will have a greater conversion rate.

Direct Mail?

While some organizations use direct mail as part of their Giving Tuesday campaign, I’m not convinced that the investment in time and resources for a specific Giving Tuesday mailing is worthwhile. You would be further ahead to use those resources for your year-end appeal that will reach everyone we “excluded” above. If you need some content for your fall newsletter, it would be fine to feature a “save the date” style announcement. However, it’s not too effective to seek a digital response from a paper-based communication.

Join us for our next article where we’ll share a quick and actionable Giving Tuesday campaign communications plan.

*** While you may not exclude these types of donors from your Giving Tuesday communications, one of these donors could provide a helpful boost to your campaign. More on that next time… 🙂

About the Author: Jonathan Helder, CFRE, ECRF, Consultant

With over a decade of proven fundraising experience and a love for data, Jonathan is blessed to serve nonprofits and help bolster their impact on the community. Jon enjoys helping ministries implement data-based strategies and tools to improve fundraising and organizational effectiveness. Jonathan has written articles as well as presented to local and national organizations including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (West Michigan)Do More GoodNonprofit Hub and the Lakeshore Nonprofit Alliance.



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