7 ways to make your first #GivingTuesday a fundraising success

#GivingTuesday is approaching fast, and organizations that are brand new to the the movement are gearing up to make the most of it. For organizations that have never participated in Giving Tuesday before, it can feel overwhelming. These seven tips will help you meet your fundraising goals and engage new supporters.

1. Maximize your online donation page

Not all donation pages are created equal. Branding matters: Donors are more likely to donate on a branded donation page versus an unbranded PayPal page. Impact stories that accompany donation amounts help build trust with donors. Over 75% of donors give based on their understanding of an organization’s impact. Nonprofits can also raise more with their donation page by giving donors options like the ability to contribute monthly and to cover payment transaction fees.

Another idea I recommend is to set up a campaign page dedicated to your #GivingTuesday efforts. Provide as many specifics as possible about your organization’s impact on the big day, and make sure to let donors know there’s a deadline to encourage them to support your organization on November 28. Finally, make sure your donation page is responsive and easy for donors to use on mobile, tablet, or desktop.

2. Stay in touch with donors

Let your donors in on your #GivingTuesday plans before the big day. Send them an email at least a week out encouraging them to give and sing your praises to their own networks leading into #GivingTuesday. Check in again on Thanksgiving Day expressing your thanks for their contributions to your cause over the course of the year. On Black Friday and Cyber Monday, send at least one reminder each day about #GivingTuesday so donors keep you top-of-mind as they think about their end-of-year budget. Schedule your first email to go out early on #GivingTuesday with a link to your donation page that includes a simple reminder explaining how their donations will support your cause.

Don’t be afraid to send multiple reminders throughout the day. If you can, segment your list: Send a different message to people who already donated, or people who haven’t yet opened or click your first message. Tailoring your ask helps supporters feel more appreciated and more likely to take the next step.

3. Get active on social media

The hashtag #GivingTuesday will be trending on Twitter and Facebook throughout the big day. Get in on the action and attract new donors by using #GivingTuesday in all of your social posts leading into the day. Use Thanksgiving puns, Black Friday deals, or any other creative ideas you come up with to draw more people to your social media accounts. Try out new donation pitches and see which gets the most engagement (likes, retweets, etc.).

Also, make sure you have an easy way for donors to give when they land on your profile. If you haven’t already, create a “Donate” button on your Facebook page that leads donors directly to your donation page.

4. Consider setting a goal (and making it public)

Setting a goal will not only help your team measure success but it will also help you raise more. Come up with a goal that’s a realistic stretch for you, then publicize it in communications with your donors. You can even include the goal on your donation page and feature a progress bar that tracks donations in real-time. Meters that track progress toward a goal are proven to increase completion rates of your donation forms. They can also make #GivingTuesday more exciting for you and your donors.

5. Find a sponsor

Companies are eager to connect with causes leading into #GivingTuesday. Connect with small businesses in your area or larger companies (if you have a connection) and ask if they’ll support your organization on #GivingTuesday with a matching donation, promotional support, or both. You can pitch it to businesses and brands as a way to expand their audience (and yours) and garner positive press coverage.

6. Throw a party

Invite donors over for an impromptu #GivingTuesday celebration, then encourage them to donate via text or mobile device. Don’t try to create a formal event out of it, just offer some light food and beverages, and print and distribute your donation information. For entertainment, project your page with a progress meter on a screen to encourage donors who make it to the event to give even more. Think of it as an informal kick-off for end-of-year giving.

7. Say thank you

At the end of the day, email your supporters again thanking them for contributing on #GivingTuesday. Express gratitude and give donors a sense of how their donations will be used to support your mission. People like to be thanked. Send them a thank-you note that doesn’t ask for another donation but simply shows your gratitude. Thanking donors makes them more likely to give to your organization again and again. Touch base with the same donors again before year’s end.

David DeParolesa
David DeParolesa is the CEO at Give Lively, a tech startup founded and funded by philanthropists that builds fundraising technology and gives it away to nonprofits for free. Prior to Give Lively, David founded Web Philosophic LLC, where he created a way to help bring attention to Democrats running for Congress in 2016 and a simple way to read popular news from trusted news sources. He previously worked at Discovery Communications and American Express, where he led product development for Discovery's TV-Everywhere product and helped reshape Food & Wine Magazine’s digital experience.