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A Three-Step Checklist for GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday launches the nonprofit's year-end giving season. Take a look at our checklist to make sure you're covering the fundamentals!

A Three-Step Checklist for GivingTuesday

It’s go-time. Pedal to the metal. Step on it. It’s almost GivingTuesday, and we’ve got three last-minute reminders that will add some wallop to this, the inaugural event of year-end fundraising.

Whether you have a carefully-orchestrated year-end giving plan that you are calmly executing, or you are focused on the bigger picture and are panicking thinking about GivingTuesday as its own entity, here are three must-dos to play on the GivingTuesday field this year.

Step 1: Use Email.

Start a sequence. Make sure you are addressing these donors by name. Even better, note nicknames in your CRM. Nothing turns someone off more than being called by their “formal” name when no one except their mom uses it.

Here’s your calendar:

  • A week before: There are three things you want to do in this email. 
    • You want to tell them GivingTuesday is a week away. Explain that it is a “Campaign of Generosity” and that your nonprofit is excited to join the chorus of changemakers. Tell them this is your biggest fundraising season of the year.
    • Remind them of the why. Are you feeding a family a holiday dinner? Are you supporting wounded veterans? Are you enriching little kids’ lives with art? 
    • Is there a goal for year-end giving you can state? We love this idea because you can track the progress through the end of the year.
    • Share your excitement and teamwork in the spirit of “I can’t wait to see what we can accomplish together this GivingTuesday.”
  • The Monday before: Remind them that tomorrow is the big day! Make this email less of an ask and more of a reminder about what you do and why their gift matters.
  • The morning of: An earnest ask. They know what the day is, what your goal is, and feel like they’re part of the team.
    • Make giving easy. There will be a cacophony of asks today….make yours rise to the top.
    • Quantify the gifts. If $1 buys a book for a child in foster care, it’s easy for donors to multiply that as high as they want. If $50 feeds a family of four for a week, that donor can picture a family sitting down to dinner together. This step combines the direct ask with a bit of storytelling.
    • Say thank you. Effusively. Before they give. Express your thanks for their support.
    • Ensure your donate form is clear and easy to follow, and have the donate button in the email lead straight to that form.
  • The evening of: With a sense of urgency (only four more hours!), ask anyone who hasn’t donated to make a gift, no matter how small. You might balk at this, but remove any impediments to giving! Small gifts add up to a big gift, and then you can nurture those small donors for exponential gains.
    • Once again, offer effusive thanks.
    • Tease the rest of the year-end giving campaigns…your message can be, “We got x% to our goal, so let’s get ready to knock it out of the park in the next month!”

If you include matching gifts on your website, mention this in every email. And please remember to include a link to your donation page in your email signature! This is a best-practices tip all year long. 

At this point, a week away, consider if a text-to-give campaign is doable. This is an easy, free way to appeal to your donors! They send a keyword text to access a donation form and make a gift with the swipe of a key.

Step 2: Blast Social Media.

The hashtag #GivingTuesday is what all the cool kids are using. Be a cool kid! This will give your posts the highest visibility, and you can start now.

And then research hashtags associated with your mission. They exist! You can check Best-Hashtags to find some niche hashtags that will add value to your post. Don’t overdo it with hashtags, though, and don’t use any that are so generic (#donate) they don’t add any value.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Pin your post. This moves it to the top of your social media page and focuses attention on it.
  • Use photographs. They immediately drive more engagement.
  • Have a link to your donation form in every post.
  • Share stories. Every nonprofit is tugging on heartstrings, and you should too. It’s the best way to remind donors of what their gift helps.

One of our favorite stories is when Brian Barks, President and CEO of Food Bank for the Heartland, told us about his social media plan. He grabbed his cell phone and went live on social media, walking through his warehouse and showing his donors the shelves. Can you imagine a greater motivator to give than an empty shelf in a food bank?

Use Brian’s trick and go live, even if your nonprofit doesn’t have shelves. Show your team working around the clock talking to donors. Do a quick interview with the Executive Director about why GivingTuesday donations matter. Take a walk and go live to share your excitement. Bring your donors into your nonprofit’s life.

And social media is a great place to promote progress toward your goal. It’s highly effective to call out donors by name and thank them publicly for their gifts. If you can say, “X dollars until we hit our goal,” it compels action.

Step 3: Pick Up the Phone.

Use your CRM to identify your biggest donors this year. And then call them.

Develop a plan for what you want to say, whether you get a live person or a voicemail. Who is going to make the call? Articulate your goal for this phone effort: reigniting lapsed donors, getting a dollar amount in donations, or getting a certain number of pledges.

While a plan is critical, reading from a script is a bad idea. You’ll get tuned out immediately if it sounds like a robo-call.

Here’s what a great fundraising call includes:

  • An acknowledgment of who you are and what your nonprofit is.
  • A detailed thank you: “I saw that you donated $150 to our Tails at Twilight fundraiser. I just wanted to thank you, and let you know that 100% of your donation went to help animals we rescued from dire situations.”
  • An explanation of GivingTuesday and what you’re hoping to accomplish (your goal).
  • The ask: “You’ve been so generous that I was hoping you would consider an additional gift for GivingTuesday.”
  • Add any incentives: “Your company offers matching gifts” or “We are sending our top GivingTuesday donors a swag bag.” Offer a $5 Starbucks gift card, if your budget allows.
  • If they say yes, explain exactly how they can donate, and make it easy. No more than one or two steps. If you have their mobile number, offer to text the donation link right to them.
  • And no matter what they say, thank them in the most genuine, heartfelt way you can. Their support keeps your mission possible, even if it’s not a big gift right now.

Can you ever up the ask? It can be tricky. What helps is, as we mentioned, quantifying the gift and letting the donor decide. If $100 furnishes one apartment for families awaiting treatment at a pediatric cancer center, the donors can do the math and decide on their gift.

Three Steps for #GivingTuesday Success

(See what we did there?)

These three steps (email, social media, phone) are absolute necessities for your GivingTuesday efforts. Regardless of your size, your fundraising goal, or any other engagement efforts you’re planning, these three tips are the bedrock of success.

And remember, the year-end giving season is in full swing in a week. You can read our popular comprehensive guide to year-end giving for free, or you can check out any of the articles we’ve written to help nonprofits navigate this significant giving season. Just type “year-end” into the search bar and you’ll have a lot of information at your fingertips.

Happy Thanksgiving from the CharityEngine team. We’re here to support you and your mission, so check back here for more advice on topics of interest to nonprofits.