I’ve written in the past about why I like to turn the tables on #GivingTuesday by actually giving to your donors, rather than asking them to give again — yet one more time — during this busiest fundraising time of the year.
I’m not suggesting you not ask multiple times at the end of the year. You should. You must! However…
Your asks should flow together as a coordinated campaign. And you should do whatever you can to really stand out in your donor’s inbox.
The problem with #GivingTuesday?
Everybody and their dog is asking on this particular day.
There’s so much competition, you’re not likely to bring in many new donors.
For the most part, you’ll be preaching to the choir. The choir that already sings your song. That already loves you. That already gives to you. At best you’ll be eeking out a small additional gift from them. Or you may just secure their annual gift on this particular day; so… no net gain. At worst you’ll tick them off by asking them to give, yet again, without showing them enough well-deserved gratitude.
There’s a time and a place for everything.
And, as I often say, if you want gifts you must give them! Which is why giving gratitude to donors is such a powerful thing to do. Another way to understand the meaning of “Giving” Tuesday.
Sometimes Nonprofits Try Turning Things on Their Head But Don’t Quite Succeed
Today, I want to evaluate an example I shared a few years back (clearly, pre-Covid) and discuss what works; what doesn’t. I’m not meaning to single out this particular nonprofit as a failure. Far from it. They tried. They just didn’t get it quite right. Some of it works, but some of it undermines what I believe they were trying to accomplish. I want to help you avoid their mistakes.
First, let’s take a look at their appeal:
The subject line (which you can’t see here) — “This #GivingTuesday, Help Us Bag Lunches for Food Runners” — is terrific. I was very hopeful when I saw this. (Take out the word “us” and it would be even better).
The header — “A National Day for Giving Back” — parallels the subject line and is equally terrific.
The headline — “Join Us for a National Day of Giving Back” — also supports the theme and implies the supporter will become part of a community and a movement. People love to become joiners.
Asking for a deed instead of money — “Join us this Tuesday, November 29, from 9:00 – 10:30 am to help bag lunches” — is a great bit of taking the focus off of money (which will be asked for soon enough in the end-of-year appeal) and turning it to other ways supporters can become involved. People like to be valued for more than their wallet.
The multiple header photos — This melange of shots doesn’t convey any particular story. You know they say “a picture is worth a 1,000 words?” That’s plenty; you don’t need 4,000. Pick ONE compelling photo that clearly conveys your message. Here, it’s “giving back.” Yet the upper left-hand photo is the only one that shows volunteers actively doing something as a community (marching in the Pride Parade); the others show various programs and don’t support the “giving back” message. The appeal itself suggests several photos that would have worked much better to support the copy included in the appeal (e.g., volunteers collecting food or bagging lunches; volunteers distributing hygiene products to the homeless; volunteers sorting through prom dresses).
“Us”, “our”, “we’re”, “we”, “organization’s name” vs. “you”, “your”, “the community.” This message is too much about how great the organization is, rather than how great the donor is. Too much patting themselves on the back; suggesting that the donor’s help is needed so they can pat themselves on the back even more. Rather than celebrating how the donor is making a difference, the message says: “all proceeds go towards our Tikkun Ha’Olam (Repair the World) initiative.” “We’re grateful for your participation and support as we continue to give back.” Do you see the difference?
Asking for money, not deeds. “You’re also invited to our bake sale the afternoon of #givingtuesday.” Not only does the appeal ask folks to donate money, it also asks them to come spend money that will then go towards a project that isn’t clearly explained. What if, instead, they’d asked supporters to bake for an upcoming bake sale?
Donate button. I’m against this simply because I’m advocating you give something meaningful to your donors, rather than simply treating them as ATMs. Plus, it doesn’t match the subject line and headline, which intimate the supporter is being asked to give time, not money.
If you’re interested in another #GivingTuesday email and my analysis, click here.
This year, make #GivingTuesday truly about giving to your donors.
Focus on them, not you.
Think about what’s in it for them to join you in your mission, and pat them on the back.
Reward them now, and they’ll reward you later.
If you haven’t planned anything yet for December 1st, why not put together a quick, warm, grateful email when you get into the office Monday morning? Set it up to mail Tuesday morning. Share it on social media too. After a year like this one, your supporters definitely deserve a high five and a heartfelt pat on the back!
Need a Little More End of Year Help?
I’ve got three easy-to-follow guides for you. Check ’em out!
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To your success!
Image courtesy of Ksenia Chernaya from Pexels.