It’s beginning to look a lot like…the holiday giving season.
And the season’s official kickoff, Giving Tuesday, is just one week away.

If you work at a nonprofit, you’re probably already familiar with this global day of giving. But, do you know just how big a deal it is?

So, how do you get in on the action and make the most of Giving Tuesday?

Many nonprofits start planning in the early fall. But if you’re getting a late start, don’t worry. There are still things you can do to maximize your impact.

 

1. Donations should feel real

What are people donating to? Your organization?
Okay… But where is their money going? And how does their donation make an impact?

Give your donors concrete details to make their donations feel real. You want to spark their imagination, give them something familiar to cling to, or trigger an emotion. And this language doesn’t just make someone feel good about donating; it’s incredibly persuasive.

Take this example of a donation landing page from Nothing But Nets:

I don’t know how to best fight malaria. And I don’t know how $10 will help. But I know exactly what a mosquito net is – I can picture it in my head. And my $10 can buy 3 nets? Sign me up!

Here’s another example of using concrete details – an email appeal from Joy of Motion Dance Center:

Their Giving Tuesday goal was $1,200 – enough for one student in need to dance for a year. When I hear that, I hear a story. I can imagine the joy that this will bring a young dancer. And I can be a part of it! Of course I’ll donate.

 

2. Get the word out early

The number of Giving Tuesday donors has increased over the years. But so has the number of nonprofits jostling for a donor’s attention. (Last year I got appeals from 11 different organizations.) So how do you break through the noise? Get a head start and tell your donors about Giving Tuesday now.

Here’s an Instagram announcement from Rock Creek Conservancy:

This is a good way to get your supporters thinking about their Giving Tuesday plans now. With a bit of reinforcement, they’ll be likely to remember you next week.

But this post is also an early ask – the link in their Instagram bio goes right to their Giving Tuesday donation page. They’re already accepting donations – if someone is inspired to donate, don’t make them wait!

When you give your supporters a heads up that you’ll be participating in Giving Tuesday, it’s also an opportunity to collect valuable, strategic information.

A couple years ago, our client Panthera sent out an email weeks in advance asking people to pledge to donate on Giving Tuesday:

This email doesn’t just tell your donors to keep an eye out for your appeals. It allows you to customize your email messaging and tactics for two groups: likely donors and everybody else. While the average user would be annoyed if you emailed them multiple times on Giving Tuesday, a pledged donor is less likely to mind a “Last Chance!” email.

 

3. Make it easy to spread the word

There are lots of ways someone can hear about your organization. But the way that’s most likely to lead to an action like a donation? A good reference from someone they know.

So, you need a way for your donors to encourage their friends to donate as well. And what’s an easy way to get the word out? Social sharing.

Here’s the American Red Cross’ donation thank you page:

The social share icons on the right make it quick and easy to share a link to the donation page.

But remember that your users are busy. Help them out by including pre-populated text and images with the link.

Here’s an example from Conservation International, who also have a prominent social share call to action on their thank you page. When I clicked the Twitter icon, I saw this:

They’ve got a video so people can learn more. They’ve got a reason to donate. But what I like most about it is they worked in the word “I”. This is a personal testimonial that strengthens the referral.

Even if you have great social sharing in place, consider how you can fully utilize Twitter’s new 280 character limit. You could personalize the tweet with the amount someone donated, have a clear call to action like, “Will you join me in donating?,” or include a link directly to the donate page (the more clicks it takes a person to donate, the less likely they’ll do it).