Since their inception in 2012 with the first #GivingTuesday, Giving Tuesday campaigns have become almost required fare for nonprofit organizations to incorporate into their annual giving strategy. But are they delivering on the promise that they once had?
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, “Giving Tuesday Appeals Raise 27% More than in 2017“, so it looks like the promise is still there. However, it is not good enough to just look at the overall results as you think about developing an appeal strategy for the day. For smaller to medium sized nonprofits with a limited prospect base, it likely does not make sense to invest resources in a Giving Tuesday strategy. This is particularly true if you have a fatigued listserv that you will also want to be targeting for the end of the calendar year, which is when many individuals make their philanthropic decisions based on the tax implications.
If you are a smaller nonprofit with a limited addressable prospect base, your message might get lost in the inbox of your prospects — or worse, marked as spam. Rather than be overshadowed and overlooked, you should consider finding a day of meaning that is specific to your organization – founder’s day, a big annual production day, or the day your organization serves a certain number of people, for example – and market giving around that day. You might even consider a single e-mail on Giving Tuesday that encourages your prospects to look for an e-mail on an upcoming day to build some interest.
Successful e-marketing campaigns, whether they be on Giving Tuesday or any other day, depend on being differentiated, getting in front of the right people, being noticed, and prompting action to be taken. Your organization should leverage all of the resources it has to accomplish this, which, when you have limited resources, likely means not going along with the trend of larger organizations. Remember that it is not just the cost of the appeal that should be taken into consideration when planning a Giving Tuesday, but also the staff used to develop the appeal campaign, the fatigue on the prospect’s Inbox, and the opportunity cost of sending messages at a different time of year.
Larger organizations have the e-mail lists, built-in constituents, and the marketing budgets to get in front of their prospects and encourage action, which, as I mentioned, has led to meaningful year-over-year results from 2017 to 2018. They also have the staff to dedicate to this work that is not then being taken from other development communications work or fundraising efforts of the organization. One of the common mistakes of small to medium sized nonprofits is that they do not consider the trade-offs when they are making strategic decisions.
So, as you get your turkey ready, make your black Friday list and plan to execute your next #GivingTuesday, you should consider whether the return on staff time, donor mindshare, and communication saturation is really the benefit you anticipate or if you are being drawn in by the hype. Remember that one size does not fit all.
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