As you likely know, nonprofit development teams have developed something of a love-hate relationship with Giving Tuesday. It’s a great concept and inspires many people to give in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t. It can also be a huge headache: Board members expect successful campaigns when you have little to no budget and a whole lot of noise to break through to reach potential donors.

I’ve been there. And I have some advice for you.


A wide array of fundraising campaigns have come from #GivingTuesday. Some are intended to drive fiscal donations; others exist to stir up advocacy for organizations. Some of my favorites:

  • University of Michigan launched #GivingBlueDay on #GivingTuesday and earned more than $3.2 million for university programs, far exceeding its initial goal of $1 million.
  • Seton Hall University used #GivingTuesday to double an anonymous $100,000 pledge. This 1:1 match and inspired 1,060 donors to give more than $415,000.
  • World Bicycle Relief had one simple goal for its #GivingTuesday campaign—to raise enough money to purchase and send 500 bikes to help students in Africa get to school each day. They created graphics and a social media toolkit for volunteers and staff to distribute across various social channels. They exceeded their goal and were able to provide 754 bikes for the students. This year, they’re aiming for 800 bikes.
  • The Helen Woodward Animal Center launched a traditional fiscal campaign while also encouraging nearby elementary school students to get involved. Students participated in the Center’s AniMeals program and packaged food for the pets of homebound seniors in San Diego County.


With a time-sensitive campaign like #GivingTuesday, it’s essential to leverage your digital reach. Here are some ideas:

  • Launch an AdWords campaign. If you haven’t already, sign up for Google Grants and use your $10,000 in-kind support from Google to make a splash.
  • Create an ad on Facebook. As you’ve likely noticed, Facebook posts from businesses just don’t have the same reach anymore. To counter the negative effects of the algorithm update, you’ll want to throw some money in. As little as $5 can help push your message out into the largest social network on the planet.
  • Send email communications with updates about your progress. Don’t go overboard, but keep your donors aware of how you’re doing—and how they can contribute!
  • Snapchat could be a great way to get in front of people on #GivingTuesday. The platform isn’t yet saturated with businesses, so get in there and encourage people to follow you. Create Snapchat stories leading up to the day to remind them to donate and to show your progress.
  • Use HootSuite to schedule posts ahead of time. Pepper these pre-written posts with live updates about your campaign’s progress.
  • Consider a platform like MobileCause for mobile fundraising solutions including text-to-donate and SMS blasts.


How many people do you have on staff? On your Board? What about your volunteers and advocates? They all know people. Give your advocates content ahead of time for each of your social channels and encourage them to share with their friends however they feel comfortable. Your social media kit should include:

  • Messaging. Encourage people to stay on-script and provide content for any social media channel you’re interested in appearing on.
  • Graphics. Be sure to send in multiple formats in case your advocates aren’t sure how to open one. Be mindful about mobile when creating graphics with copy overlay.
  • Hashtags. Easily track the conversation on Twitter and Instagram.
  • Testimonials. Prepare quotes from your program’s participants and/or leadership.


It pays to be detailed. Tell someone what a $25 gift funds and watch your donations soar. If you can’t pinpoint an exact dollar amount for your services, talk about other quantitative measures. Include the number of people your organization serves, the number of volunteers you have, or the number of regions you serve.


I realize this is much, much easier said than done, but talk to your donors about matching funds for #GivingTuesday. Start with your board members and move outward to those who regularly give you sizable gifts. Talk to funders about using their grants as matching gifts for your campaign. They’ll still give you the same amount, but it can be used to (hopefully) double your dollars with individual contributions.


Thank those who have already given to your organization. Send custom emails (not old-school letters, because you can’t track them or guarantee they’ll arrive in time) asking donors to match their own annual donations with a special gift on #GivingTuesday.

Interested in supporting Central Indiana nonprofits this #GivingTuesday? Check out what our clients are up to:

  • Early Learning Indiana works to create early childhood learning experiences that prepare children for success in school and build a solid foundation and passion for life-long learning. See what they’re up to this #GivingTuesday.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana helps children realize their potential and build their futures. Keep up with them on Facebook for more on their #GivingTuesday campaign.
  • The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is launching an appeal on #GivingTuesday, too! They’re encouraging donors to give $17 in honor of the 17th and final Classical Christmas concert conducted by Conductor Laureate Raymond Leppard. Keep up with their progress on Facebook.