This year, I’ve heard a lot of fundraisers debate the value of #GivingTuesday (#GT). I think there is a bit of #GivingTuesday fatigue with fundraising professionals. Every year, there is hype and hope which is followed for many by disappointment. Combine this mix with the time and energy expended to successfully execute a #GivingTuesday campaign at a time of year that we all need to be very focused on “the right donors” to ensure the year finishes strong.

Fundraisers note that while the combined philanthropic punch of #GivingTuesday is powerful, the results of the effort for many specific nonprofit organizations has been, well, disappointing. In addition, there are lingering questions about whether or not #GivingTuesday really brings newcomers into the fold or if we are simply channeling existing donors who would otherwise give through other end of year campaigns into the #GivingTuesday funnel. If this is the case, fundraisers note, #GT efforts actually depress the results of other efforts.

For many nonprofit organizations, #GivingTuesday remains unproven. However, this week the fundraising platform Classy published its second annual Why Americans Give study to help nonprofits better understand the motivations of their donors. The study examined which causes donors support and how they prefer to give. Interestingly, the study also examined perceptions of tax law changes. The authors were able to do an interesting comparison of donors who identify with the Republican political party with donors who identify as Democrats.

The study’s finding reveal at least three great reasons to jump into #GivingTuesday, even if you’ll need to pull it together hastily this year:

  • Online fundraising campaigns that have the words “#Giving Tuesday” in them raise 3X as much money as those that don’t!
  • Of those who gave to #GT last year, 90% are planning to give again AND support the same organization! (In a world of abysmal donor retention rates, 90% repeaters is phenomenal)
  • Those whose first interaction with an organization was #GT become recurring, monthly donors faster than typical donors.

The last finding, about #GT donors being easier to convert to recurring monthly donors makes a ton of sense. Through giving online for #GivingTuesday, they have shown that they are comfortable with the idea of a making donations through electronic transfers. While not covered in Classy’s study, one interesting avenue to plumb in the future is whether or not these super loyal donors might also be good candidates for planned giving – a major gift vehicle in which loyalty rather than wealth is critical.

I remain convinced that #GivingTuesday has great potential for growth–awareness of it is still very low but growing annually. I am also convinced that many who fundraise, including a lot of Executive Directors, fundamentally misunderstand the ways to succeed with online, peer-to-peer campaigns. We’ve all seen (on YouTube or Facebook or some other platform) a campaign that went viral over night and too many think that our worthy causes will be the next big ice bucket challenge if we only hang a digital shingle out on #GivingTuesday. It’s not so simple. A good peer-to-peer fundraising campaign requires boots on the ground, telephones in hand, emails sent, digital assets created, and a little bit of luck. But the pay-off can be significant and not only in dollars raised. As Classy points out, the pay-off just might also be in more loyal, recurring donors and the buzz of #GivingTuesday–still more like a gnat than a bee–is still a digital wave we ought to ride.

See my earlier posts on #GivingTuesday

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