We’re heading into a key time for nonprofit fundraising. About a third of all charitable giving happens in the month of December. And 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of the year. In 2020, #GivingTuesday will be kicking off this high-stakes month on December 1st. With #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising so close together, how can your nonprofit engage donors without wearing them out? Should you do one campaign, or separate #GivingTuesday and year-end campaigns? In an unpredictable year like 2020, how do you even begin to manage fundraising?
First, take a deep breath. Relax. You’ve got this. And below, we’re going to present two different options for making #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising feel seamless and easy for both your donors and your organization.
How #GivingTuesday & Year-End Fundraising Work Together
Since #GivingTuesday gained prominence in 2012, a common concern among nonprofits was whether #GivingTuesday simply moved up year-end gifts. So, instead of making a gift on December 31st, are your donors giving on #GivingTuesday?
Our pals at GivingTuesday.org have been doggedly tracking giving trends through the Giving Tuesday Data Commons, and has made their work available to everyone for free at the Giving Lab, as well as pulling together research from other sources. The answer to this question has a simple answer: No, #GivingTuesday doesn’t cannibalize year-end giving! During the last five days of the year, donation volume is still huge and average gift sizes are larger. And, for many donors, #GivingTuesday means giving an additional gift instead of just making their annual gift at a different time.
So, these two fundraising periods actually work together to increase giving to charitable causes overall. And it’s common for nonprofits to coordinate their #GivingTuesday and year-end campaigns to maximize impact and create a cohesive experience for their donors.
There are a few reasons why #GivingTuesday in 2020 is special. 2020 is the first year with two #GivingTuesdays. (#GivingTuesdayNow was held on May 5, 2020 and raised millions for COVID-19 relief across the globe.) And 2020’s #GivingTuesday is the first #GivingTuesday to take place in the middle of a global pandemic. (A dubious honor, to be sure.)
But the good news is that charitable giving has been fairly predictable in 2020. There was a slump in nonprofit giving from March through April, when the pandemic hit and caused people to lose their jobs, be furloughed, and many states went into lockdown. However, in May, nonprofit giving came back strong!
#GivingTuesdayNow marked the beginning of predictable donor behavior. During a crisis, people showed up to support charitable causes in a big way. And lots of nonprofits (particularly nonprofits dedicated to healthcare and racial justice) saw tons of first-time donors, and donation volume that exceeded previous years. On Mightycause, we have certainly seen that giving is going strong. And we are hopeful that #GivingTuesday will be one of the strongest in recent memory.
The Myth of Donor Fatigue
Another common concern about #GivingTuesday is about donor fatigue. If my nonprofit does a #GivingTuesday campaign, and also does a year-end campaign, won’t my donors get tired of us asking for money?!
Sometimes, this apprehension can make some nonprofits feel like they have to choose one or the other: #GivingTuesday or year-end.
But donor fatigue generally isn’t what many nonprofits think it is. It’s true that people get inundated with fundraising appeals starting in December (and sometimes earlier), but donor fatigue is easily preventable with strong donor management and communications practices. Engaged donors will not abandon your nonprofit because they’ve gotten one too many emails!
We’ve got two options for running both a #GivingTuesday and year-end campaign that can help you provide an engaging, cohesive experience for your donors (that don’t feel burdensome or exhausting.)
Option #1: Use #GivingTuesday to Launch Your Year-End Campaign 🚀
This is a simple answer to the question of how to juggle two campaigns so close together at the end of the year: Don’t! Run one campaign that launches on #GivingTuesday and carries you through the end of the year.
The benefits here are fairly obvious! You’ll have one consistent message, and have to plan one campaign instead of two. And that eliminates the need for a “transition” at all. That’s all without even discussing the lighter workload.
But there are still some intricacies to pulling this off well, which we’ll detail below.
Plan Your Campaign in Phases
So, the big challenge in planning one campaign to span December 1 – 31 is momentum. You’ll have to build it and keep it going for a full month. (Or more, if you’re factoring in #GivingTuesday on Mightycause’s early giving period.) Beyond picking a campaign theme or message that has enough mileage to last the whole month, running your campaign in stages can keep the giving going until New Years.
Launch on #GivingTuesday! During the first phase of your campaign, focus on introducing your campaign to donors and getting your supporters engaged.
You may want to set a financial goal just for #GivingTuesday fundraising, which will add some urgency for #GivingTuesday donors. It will also set you up for later fundraising success, as inching toward your overall year-end goal will allow the goal gradient effect to kick in. (In simpler terms, the closer you get to your goal, the more likely it is that people will join in as you get closer to achieving it to help push you over the finish line.)
This phase should be focused on donor engagement. That means: following up with and thanking your #GivingTuesday donors, doing personal outreach to key groups of donors, and setting the stage for a successful close to the month.
There may be a bit of a slump in giving during this phase, and that’s okay! The month of December is going to have two big spikes: on December 1st and the final three days of the year. So, spend this time focusing on outreach efforts, segmented emails, and providing a positive experience for donors. (And buttering them up for Phase Three…)
This is going to be the final week of the year, otherwise known as Go Time. It’s time to pull out all the stops by executing a robust email marketing plan, making calls or sending personal emails to those big year-end donors, and really leaning into “Because of You” messaging.
The final week of the year is a great time to pull out your heaviest-hitting storytelling. And it’s also a fantastic time to focus on your nonprofit’s impact in 2020! Generally speaking, statistics are not a huge draw for donors… except at year-end. That’s when people want to hear about all your good work, all the people you’ve helped, and know that they help make it all possible with their donations. If you release an annual report, this phase is a great time to do it! And infographics, statistics, and stories that demonstrate the importance of your nonprofit’s work will all go far in Phase Three.
Plan Your Content Carefully
A month isn’t that long in fundraising time, but in the month of December, you’re going to need a lot of content to sustain you. That means stories, photos, videos, infographics, and more. And you’ll want all of your content to have a similar look, feel, and message. So, planning is key!
Make sure you’ve got image assets on deck for emails, your website, your Mightycause page, social media, and anywhere you usually market your fundraising efforts. Nonprofits can get a ton of mileage out of campaign videos, so be sure to coordinate that well in advance. (And, if possible, a different video for #GivingTuesday and the final week of the year.)
Option #2: Plan Separate Campaigns
The benefits of hosting separate campaigns for #GivingTuesday and year-end are basically the inverse the above. With two separate campaigns, you won’t have a momentum problem or mid-December slump to deal with. And you can tailor each campaign and its messaging to maximize its impact.
Of course, it may be more work, because you’ll be planning two campaigns instead of one. And two campaigns in the space of a month could feel like a lot for donors. So, there is an art to pulling it off, but it can be done!
Choose Your Campaign Messages Wisely
Repetition is key to making ideas “sticky” for donors. So, you will want to choose campaign themes and messages that are distinct, but reflective of a core message. That core message could be reinforcing your impact, or the importance of your nonprofit in your community. Whatever the core message is, creating campaigns that have a similar key message will help ensure that it sticks with your supporters.
Use Visual Cues to Differentiate Campaigns
Changing up your branding by using different logos, colors, taglines, etc. can help differentiate your campaigns, and make the shift feel more natural. For instance, using #GivingTuesday logos in your emails, social media avatars and cover photos, and then changing those out to reflect your year-end campaign signals to your supporters that you’re shifting gears.
And you’ll want to make sure you fully transition your Mightycause profile between campaigns, too!
Focus on Impact for Year-End
So, as we mentioned, statistics are nice to have but don’t move donors as much as good nonprofit storytelling, most of the time. The one exception to this rule of thumb is year-end. That’s the time went donors want to hear about how many people you served and dive into data. Infographics and images sharing just how much you’ve achieved during the year, how many people you have helped in your community, and stories that illustrate your direct impact will really drive home that your work is worth supporting. And it works very well in the last week of the year.
Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s all about keeping donors engaged and excited about your message! 2020 has been an unprecedented year in so many ways, but donors are motivated to give, so smart planning will help ensure that you’re able to make sure the giving you see in the month of December is also unprecedented!
Watch the Webinar
Looking for a more in-depth explanation of this transition? Watch our webinar on the topic for an hour-long discussion of weaving #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising together!