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Simple fundraising ideas for Giving Tuesday

Originally Published: October 2017

Giving Tuesday is a global movement aiming to encourage people to give to good causes. First launched in the U.S. in response to (and taking place just after) the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the lead-up to Christmas, it came to the U.K. in 2014. This year it takes place on 28th November.

Why get involved in Giving Tuesday?

The annual campaign has caught on quickly in the U.K.: in 2015, over £6,000 was donated every minute to charity. In both 2015 and 2016 Giving Tuesday broke world records for the most amount of money donated to charity online within 24 hours. The U.K. was the second biggest contributor to the total amount, after the U.S.

But the benefits go beyond just fundraising, says Kim Roberts, senior campaigns officer at Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which manages the campaign in the U.K.

In a survey among CAF's 2016 Giving Tuesday partners (charities and other organisations who sign up to the campaign):

  • 82 percent said the campaign helped them to achieve their pre-determined goal
  • 44 percent said the day helped to raise awareness of their charity or cause
  • 34 percent said it helped to grow their online and social media presence
  • 46 percent said it helped them to reach audiences they wouldn't normally reach

What are some easy ways to get started?

Joining the campaign as a charity partner means you can do "absolutely anything," says Roberts — even if you don’t have a lot of time to plan. "We don’t expect partners to do anything in particular, we want them to do what works best for them."

If you haven't yet figured out what to do on 28th November, start by signing up as a charity partner on the #givingtuesday page, which gives you access to all their free resources (there is a separate campaign website for U.S.-based nonprofits).

Then:

  • Prepare or adapt your social media content. At the very least, sign up to the thunderclap which will send out an automated message from your account on the day (check the Giving Tuesday website closer to the day for the link). Even better, share your own messages using the hashtag #givingtuesday. You’ll need to work a bit to stand out from the crowd on the day, advises digital consultant Zoe Amar, so highlight what’s distinctive about your organisation. Use great images and human stories.
  • Get all your staff (including senior managers), board and volunteers involved. Encourage them to spread the word in the run-up and on the day.
  • Tell your supporters. They may already be aware of the campaign (9 percent of Brits participated in some way in 2016), but make sure they associate your organisation with it, and give them the option to support you. That can be as simple as an email (npENGAGE has some useful email subject lines for Giving Tuesday in their 4 steps to create a stellar campaign). But think about your message. "There’s no point in putting out requests for donations if you’ve not given donors a reason to support you," says Roberts. "Giving Tuesday isn’t a silver bullet — be sure to treat it as an opportunity."
  • Tie it in with ongoing fundraising efforts. You can use the #givingtuesday hashtag to spread the word about a campaign you’re just kicking off, or an ongoing one that needs a boost. As Noland Hoshino, director of creative and digital marketing at High Five Media, points out, keeping donors’ attention for weeks or months can be tough, while "a [one-day giving] campaign condenses your tactics to just 24 hours, with immediate results."
  • Involve your crowdfunding community. If you have supporters raising money for you via crowdfunding platforms, let them know Giving Tuesday is coming up so they can also use it to drum up support.
  • Use it as a hook to work with partners, or find new ones. Ask a local business to encourage their employees or customers to donate to your cause (or even ask them to match fund donations made on the day). Or get in touch with your local school to see if they can get involved.
  • Don’t (only) ask for money. Ask people to help you in non-monetary ways: they could volunteer for the day, sign a petition or simply retweet a message for you.
  • Use it as a celebration. Celebrate giving, rather than demanding it, by highlighting something you’re proud of, thanking your volunteers and trustees, or reminding donors of the difference they've made.

For more ideas, see #givingtuesday's 15 things your charity can do this Giving Tuesday.

How do small charities use Giving Tuesday?

Size shouldn't be a barrier to success — in fact, CAF says that most of those involved are small or local charities who find ways to make the day work for them. For example Wessex Cancer Trust, which relies on 300 volunteers to help run its services, has used Giving Tuesday to encourage new volunteers to sign up. The Lotus Flower, which helps empower women in Iraq, ran a special appeal asking people to sponsor a sister in need. Tiverton and District Community Transport Association asked people to 'declutter and donate' items that could be sold to raise money for the charity. And Chelwood Foodbank Plus asked people to take a packed lunch to work and donate the money they'd saved on buying lunch.

Roberts says the key to successes like these is keeping things simple. "Don’t stray too far from the charity’s mission or what you know you’re capable of delivering. If you’re reliant on volunteers there’s no point trying to organise a big event a few short weeks out," she says.

"Lots of organisations avoid just asking for money, but complement any ask for donations with a very simple activity or event to attract interest." Think about how you can combine online and offline communication, she adds: "Giving Tuesday is usually described as a social media campaign, but very often physical activities or events prove the most popular."

The best campaigns will have been well planned in advance, which also means planning for success. "Many charities see a surge in donations or activity on the day so you’ll need to be prepared," says Roberts. "Make sure staff or volunteers are aware of what you’re doing, and be sure to check that your online donation page, telephones, buckets or whatever else are all in good working order."

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MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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Writer/editor focusing on all things nonprofit and social enterprise. Youth media trainer. Storyteller through words and pictures.