Thursday, October 19, 2017

Tips to Help You Succeed this #GivingTuesday

This article was originally published in the "Expert's Advice" section of massnonprofit news on 10/19.

#GivingTuesday 2017, set for Nov. 28, means that it's now time for your nonprofit to set goals and prepare the tactics that will position your organization for success on #GivingTuesday: And by success, I mean raising funds, building awareness, and enhancing your reputation.
Since it launched in 2012, #GivingTuesday has been celebrated in the United States on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the ensuing Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events. #GivingTuesday is open to any official charity or for-profit business, school, religious, or community group interested in spearheading a project to benefit at least one registered charity or any type of 501(c) organization in the U.S.

Last year, #GivingTuesday campaigns raised $177 million, 58% more than the $112 million raised in 2015.

Because most Americans (62%) plan to donate more this holiday season over 2016, according to a PayPal study, #GivingTuesday can supercharge your end-of-year fundraising campaigns.

While some organizations have already started promoting their #GivingTuesday campaigns, a little “sweat equity” can get your organization on track for a successful campaign. Because #GivingTuesday is primarily an online fundraising initiative, direct your efforts to engage your online audiences: people on your email list and your social media followers.

The following three-phases will help you generate optimal results with minimal effort.

Phase I: Actions to take during the four weeks leading up to #GivingTuesday

  • Set an Achievable Fundraising Goal based on your organization’s needs.
  • Determine the Stories you will share in your #GivingTuesday campaign. Create an internal folder including relevant content (photos, videos, testimonials).
  • Create Hashtags that reinforce your brand and highlight your #GivingTuesday goals.
  • Create a Donation Form on your Homepage: Make the form prominent and easy to find on your homepage. Minimize fields on the form (keep it simple). Provide a range of suggested donation amounts (this can yield higher donations). Make the form easy to use for mobile users (on #GivingTuesday 2016, 45% of donations were made via mobile devices). Test the form before #GivingTuesday (mobile and desktop). Make the form live a week before #GivingTuesday (to coincide with your direct email campaign—see below)
  • Draft and Schedule Direct emails: Prepare, finalize and schedule solicitation emails to be sent automatically a week before #GivingTuesday and 2X on November —morning and evening (peak social media engagement times). Connect the emails to the stories you’re sharing on your social media. Include link to donation form, hashtags, and relevant graphics
  • Communicate Externally: Share your fundraising goal in advance with your Board, staff and current donors. Encourage them to donate immediately. Share your #GivingTuesday hashtags with your Board, staff and current donors
  • Communicate Internally: Share with staff the fundraising goal, the communications tactics and timeline, and assign each a specific role. Staff should know: The stories your organization is sharing. Where to find relevant content. Who is operating which social media account. Who is responding to inquiries from curious donors

Phase II: Actions to take on #GivingTuesday

  • Encourage staff, board members and donors to use their personal social media to promote your organization’s #GivingTuesday campaign.
  • Stay active on social media throughout the day: Tweet to thank your latest donors, update followers on the amount raised, and share stories. Post photos on Facebook of donors (after you get their permission!) and share testimonials of why they donated.

Phase III: Actions to take during the four weeks following #GivingTuesday

  • Follow Up with Donors: Thank new donors in a personal letter, in a list on your website, on social media, and in follow-up direct emails.
  • Compile/Assess Results: Collect analytics on new donors, funds raised, website visitation, social media engagement, email open and conversion rates, incoming call volume, etc. Share analytics with stakeholders (using pie charts, bar graphs, etc.)
  • Conduct Organizational “Post Mortem”: Analyze your campaign success to learn how to run more effective campaigns in the future (whether for #GivingTuesday or others), and pinpoint strategies that do/don’t work. Questions to consider:
    • Did you achieve your fundraising goal?
    • How many new donors did your organization get?
    • Which fundraising communications were most effective? (compare performance of image-based posts and text-based posts, different email subject lines, etc.)
    • Which social channels had the most engagement?
    • How many hours did staff and volunteers invest in the campaign? What was the return on your investment? Was it worth the effort?
Think about #GivingTuesday as you would other fundraising campaigns: It’s not just a 24-hour event. Rather, it’s an opportunity for you to tell the stories that define your organization, cultivate donors who are interested and moved by those stories, and build awareness of your organization’s mission, messages, programs, and priorities.

Please share your #GivingTuesday plans and campaigns in the comments!

Helpful Resources May: