#GivingTuesday: A 5-Week Countdown for Nonprofits

(How to launch a successful campaign even if you don’t have a full-time communications team.)

by: Nicole Grossberg

#GivingTuesday is just five weeks away. It seems like yesterday we were grilling hot dogs on July 4th, but believe it or not, the holiday season is nearly here and that means it’s all hands on deck for #GivingTuesday preparations. You meant to start preparing for the fastest-growing giving day of the year months ago, but daily tasks and projects have put you behind schedule. As a growing nonprofit you’re already stretched thin with resources and it feels like there’s no way you’ll get it all together in time for a one-day event that you’re not even sure will pay off!

Take a deep breath. Five weeks is plenty of time to plan your #GivingTuesday campaign… and we’ve got the roadmap to get you there!

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving activated across social media. It was founded by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y and was inspired by the massive shopping weekend that has become Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consumers spend those days take, take, taking…so why not balance it out with some give, give. giving! This year they are celebrating their seventh anniversary on November 27th.

Even if you’re a brand new nonprofit and never participated in #GivingTuesday before, this is an opportunity for awareness and fundraising you don’t want to miss!

(You can read more about the reasons why in our 5 Steps to Getting the Most from #GivingTuesday article.)

Week 1: Campaign Brainstorm and Goal Setting

Remember, a campaign does not need to be an elaborate and expensive plan.

Step 1 is to decide what you want to do on #GivingTuesday. And since this day is a social media event, plan to post on your channels all day that Tuesday and as much as possible leading up to it (more on that later in this article).

Step 2 is to set measurable goals for your campaign. What is that you want to accomplish? Whether it’s the obvious donation, or perhaps signups for an event or newsletter—make sure you know what you want to get out of this day and that the goals are attainable. Put some firm numbers to it like fundraising goals or number of signups. If you’re a brand new nonprofit and you want to gain awareness, consider metrics like impressions, reach and video views (if applicable).

Some ways your nonprofit can celebrate #GivingTuesday:

  • Host an event or webinar
  • Instagram or Facebook Live video with a question and answer portion for your fans
  • Arrange a social media takeover from a celebrity (if possible) or internal team member at your nonprofit
  • Record an inspirational video with examples of work your nonprofit has done

Check out this example from last year when the ASPCA hosted a “Giving Hope Live-a-thon” with Hurricane Maria rescue puppies from St. Croix. They live streamed from their adoption center in NYC and offered donation matching.

Step 3 is to line up fundraising partners for donation-based campaigns. This is a good time to arrange corporate or major-donor matches for donations you receive leading up to, or on #GivingTuesday.

Week 2: Set a Plan in Motion

Now that you’ve decided what you’re doing for #GivingTuesday, you’ll need to start mapping out the details. As we mentioned, this event is social-media driven, so start brainstorming with your internal teams and come up with content that will promote your event.

Not sure what content to share? Anything that reminds people of the important work you’ve been doing all year, and makes them grateful to you! Here are some suggestions:

  • Videos and live videos with your staff and your beneficiaries
  • Blog posts about your plans for next year
  • Quotes from current supporters about your work
  • Photos of the impact you’ve had over the last year
  • Graphics illustrating your impact

Week 3: Ramp up on Social Media

Starting in week three (or even week two, if you’re feeling ambitious) you should plan to post on your social media channels at least once or twice a week. Use “save the date” type content to start building some excitement and to let your fans know they should tune in on the big day—including when, where, why and how.

If you’re hosting an event—whether in person or virtually—this is when you should send out invites (if you haven’t already done so). It’s good to give people at least three-to-four weeks notice if you’re asking them to show up somewhere. If you’re requesting donations from your Facebook page or another crowdfunding source drive traffic to that page and remind people what you’re asking for and why it’s important.

Bonus Tip – There are a ton of resources on the official #GivingTuesday site so definitely take advantage of their toolkit.

Week 4: Cross Your “t”s and Dot Your Dot-Org’s “i”s

This is the final stage before you go big on #GivingTuesday! In these last two weeks, you’ll want get a bit more aggressive on social media. Event hosters, you should have some RSVP’s by now. If you’re behind on your attendance goal, start sending some personal emails.

If you have video content you’ve created for the day of, this would be a good time to share some short 5–10 second clips or short live video streams as teasers. Your goal now is to get people interested and excited to tune in on #GivingTuesday.

Week 5: Load Up Your Content for Launch!

During the week leading up, don’t be afraid to “flood” your social media. 1-2 posts per day on Instagram and Facebook should suffice, and on Twitter 3 or 4 per day is reasonable due to the nature of that platform. It’s crunch time, so make sure fans know about your campaign and what you want them to do. You can even share some behind-the-scenes content to show people how excited you are.

Bonus Tip: Consider reaching out to local businesses or partners and ask them to help spread the word about your campaign. Make it easy for them by crafting some social media posts with pre-made graphics so they don’t have to worry about coming up with an idea. Tapping into any partners’ social media networks will extend your reach and build lasting relationships.

November 27, 2018 — Go, Go, #GivingTuesday!

You’ve made it to the finish line! Well, almost. Yes, we’ve said to post a lot on social media so far, and today is no different. It’s all about the feed! Make sure to schedule your content for the day in advance so that live posting is more manageable on platforms like Snapchat or for Instagram stories. If you’re not sure about IG Stories, check out our article for tips and what works best on Instagram Stories.

#GivingTuesday is a day of giving, but it’s also a hashtag! It will most likely trend like it has in previous years, so you’ll need to stand out in order to cut through the noise. Post about the status of your campaign and hitting fundraising goals, but consider trying some unique tactics like asking fans to submit a 20 second Instagram story about why the cause is important to them. Choose a winner every hour with a donation in their honor. Whatever you decide to do, be creative and have fun with it!

After #GivingTuesday: The End Is Also the Beginning

Giving season is just getting started, but take a minute and enjoy the fruits of your labor so far. Remember to thank everyone who made your campaign a success. One big thank you on social media will do the trick but why not take it to the next level and thank contributors personally? A little love for your fans goes a long way so consider an Instagram story and tag donors and supporters, or consider sending out individual thank-you emails or direct messages if it doesn’t take up too many internal resources.

Lastly, recap the campaign and how successful it was for your nonprofit. Again, it doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it’s okay to do a little humble bragging and show off your hard work. And if you focus on all of the donors that made it possible, it will act like social proof to others that yours is an organization that people support and they should hop on the bandwagon to make a change!

#GivingTuesday Roadmap Recap

Let’s review. Here’s your week-by-week timeline:

  • 5 Weeks Out

    Brainstorm and Goals

  • 4 Weeks Out

    Set Your Plan

    Work through the details of your campaign and start prepping the content.

  • 3 Weeks Out

    Ramp Up Your Social

    Start ramping up on social media with one to two posts per week

  • 2 Weeks Out

    Finalize Content

    Get all of your video and other content in place and start teasing your audiences.

  • Final Week

    Prep for Launch and Engage Boosters

    Load up your social content and reach out to businesses and supporters that can amplify your message.

  • #GivingTuesday

    Go! Go! Go!

    Get posting, tweeting, storying and snapping! Be creative and try some unique tactics on social media too.

  • Mission Wrapup

    Recap your success and send thank yous.

    Keep the momentum going for a great end-of-year fundraising drive.

You’re all set! Now get out there and start planning your nonprofit’s successful campaign!

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