#GivingTuesday – Worth the Fuss?

December 17, 2013 - by Lesley Hostetter

It’s mid-December and Giving Tuesday has come and gone. It’s been reported by Blackbaud, #GivingTuesday, and many other news sources that significantly more money was raised this year compared with 2012.

While most of our clients sat it out and put all their efforts into other year-end giving campaigns, the groups that did participate in Giving Tuesday felt it was a success.

Three non-profits we work with – a hospital, a museum, and an HIV/AIDS social services group – conducted Giving Tuesday campaigns this year for the first time.  The organizations limited the campaigns to email and online promotion, each one raised between $5,000 and $8,000.

The highest open rates (28%) were achieved by the museum, with the subject line “Can you join us?”   The hospital had the largest average gift ($640) utilizing the subject line “Something different.” Both of these groups sent an email early in the morning, and later again on Tuesday evening.  Both also used the official #GivingTuesday branded banners in the emails and on the donation forms, making the communication more credible.

While sending two additional emails in December isn’t a ton of extra work … still the question should be asked: Is it worth it? 

Would the donors who gave on Giving Tuesday eventually have given at year end anyway?  Did the Giving Tuesday emails just create more “noise” for donors? 

The only way to know would be to run a test – holding a control group out of Giving Tuesday emails.  (We’d love to test this for our clients next year – let us know if you are interested!)

Here at Lautman, our belief is that Giving Tuesday can work if the campaign is conducted strategically – across communications channels.  

Who does it work best for?  Probably small, local charities with a regional donor base – or charities that have a strong social media presence (even better if you have a celebrity endorsement).

Why isn’t email enough?  The Giving Tuesday concept is effective when it creates a sense of community.  Therefore, it should be marketed across the community – person to person, banners/posters in buildings, ads in newspapers, online, and in emails.  Building awareness for the campaign makes it feel more real, more special, and like more people are doing it.

What about timing?  We believe, if it’s going to feel like a big-deal  campaign, organizations should start talking about Giving Tuesday in October.  Gear people up, give them time to consider it, let the marketing do its job well before the actual day.

It remains to be seen whether Giving Tuesday is a growing social movement that will drive philanthropic giving.  But, it definitely seems that way – especially when you check out the #GivingTuesday Twitter feed! Perhaps this is an effective way to attract younger donors. Let us know what you think!


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