The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 26

How Nonprofits Can Get the Most Out of #GivingTuesday… and What Not to Do, with Kathleen Murphy Toms

In this Episode:

In its nine years, GivingTuesday has become the largest philanthropic movement in history—with activity in every country on the planet! And it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

With that success, come new opportunities and new challenges for nonprofit fundraising teams looking to participate.

The most common questions often are:

  • Is it still worth participating or is it too noisy?
  • If we do participate, how can we get the greatest returns on our investment?
  • Will it cannibalize our year-end giving?
In this week’s Nonprofit Hero Factory episode, Boris talks with Kathleen Murphy Toms, the Director of Digital Strategy at GivingTuesday, to answer those questions and share strategies, tips and hacks for getting the most out of GivingTuesday.

Listen to this Episode

[00:00:18.020] – Intro Video
Welcome to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast, and podcast. Where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes for their cause and a better word for all of us. Da-Ding!

[00:00:20.240] – Boris
Da-Ding! Hi everybody. Welcome back to the Nonprofit Hero Factory. Every week I try to find amazing guests who can help organizations do more with the resources that they have, who can activate more heroes for their cause, as we say, through everything from Web design and social media to digital fundraising. Today, I’ve got somebody who’s at the intersection of several of those things and part of, well, the biggest movement in philanthropy, maybe ever.

[00:00:47.400] – Boris
Her name is Kathleen Murphy Toms. She is the director of digital strategy for GivingTuesday. An organization I think a lot of us have heard about. The biggest philanthropic movement in history, GivingTuesday leverages social media and a broad network of nonprofits, community activists, schools, brands, small businesses and individuals to ignite a movement and global call to action to give. We talk a lot about call to action. That’s pretty much the central one that most nonprofits are interested in. It has seen record-breaking engagement at every level of society. From some of the world’s biggest celebrities and influencers to students, volunteers and everyday givers.

[00:01:27.260] – Boris
Kathleen studies the use of digital tools within social movements, particularly their use in shifting power, creating mass mobilization, instilling behavior change, and achieving global equity. Kathleen has coached thousands of social impact leaders and grassroots organizations from nearly every continent on how to not only generate funds for their cause, but to inspire and mobilize groundswell movements to create systemic change. She is an adjunct structure. I could pronounce that word. Right? She is an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, where she teaches social change makers how to develop innovative content marketing and digital strategies to activate and engage new audiences.

[00:02:08.710] – Boris
When I asked Kathleen her superpower, she said, it is navigating the tools that are worth the time investment versus those that just aren’t. And with that, let’s bring Kathleen onto the show.

[00:02:21.260] – Kat Murphy Toms
Hey, Boris, thanks for having me. It’s always a pleasure. I was just going to say two days or to two times in one week. We are so lucky.

[00:02:29.740] – Boris
Yeah. We just had the Webinar yesterday about the new program at NYU that you’re a part of that I’m super excited to be a part of too.

[00:02:36.220] – Kat Murphy Toms
Me, too. We should talk about that.

[00:02:38.020] – Boris
We should talk about that. But really, I want to focus on the thing that you do that you’re a little bit famous for in super popular for, at the moment. You must feel like the belle of the ball because I’m sure you’re in high demand. And I’m so glad that you have some time to talk to me and our audience today about GivingTuesday.

[00:02:59.790] – Kat Murphy Toms
GivingTuesday. It’s coming. In 15 Tuesdays. Whether we’re ready or not.

[00:03:03.900] – Boris
Tell me a little bit about you. What’s your story that wasn’t in the very impressive bio that I stumbled through as best as I could?

[00:03:10.500] – Kat Murphy Toms
Sure. I mean, that’s the beginning of it. I live on the South Side of Chicago. I’ve lived here my entire life. We’re known for community organizing, and we’re known for a certain President who was elected from here. I was a part of that campaign. I was a part of all of his previous campaigns for Congress and Senate, and all of that. I moved from the political campaign world into nonprofit. It seemed like a natural place for me to go. The skill set of convincing people to vote, convincing people to vote for your person, particularly online. There was a place for me in the nonprofit sector.

[00:03:54.180] – Boris
This was in the early days of the hashtag. Right? I remember to this day clearly trying to convince people about, yes, a hashtag is here to stay. And here you need to use it. And yes, the GivingTuesday is a hashtag. Moved into the nonprofit sector, focused mostly on teaching nonprofits about how to use digital tools and convincing them that social media was not indeed, not going away. And I’ve been blessed to be on the GivingTuesday team for about three years, officially.

[00:04:29.220] – Kat Murphy Toms
But before that, I was a community leader. So when I brought GivingTuesday to Illinois, let Illinois’ statewide GivingTuesday campaign for all of the nonprofits in Illinois. I worked at my Nonprofit Regional Association, and we thought it would be a great opportunity for Illinois nonprofits to raise their profile, get involved in a global movement, raise some funds, raise some volunteers, all of those things. So I’ve been a part of the GivingTuesday land for, I don’t know, the whole time. Pretty much.

[00:05:04.520] – Boris
That’s pretty cool. And I’m assuming it was fairly successful. And now you are in house on the team.

[00:05:10.720] – Kat Murphy Toms
Now, I’m in house on the team. I can’t imagine myself being anywhere else. This is possibly the greatest thing that I will ever do and humbled to be a part of it, really.

[00:05:23.010] – Boris
I remember when hashtags first became a thing and explaining to people what a hashtag was, why it’s useful and were it even comes from as a computer science geek from back in the day, you know…

[00:05:35.790] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:05:35.790] – Boris
What hashtags were originally for…

[00:05:39.430] – Kat Murphy Toms
Is it pound GivingTuesday? Yes, it’s pound GivingTuesday.

[00:05:43.680] – Boris
When you’re entering it on your touch tone phone, you hit pound GivingTuesday. No.

[00:05:49.220] – Kat Murphy Toms
I’m going to make a shirt, “Pound GivingTuesday.”

[00:05:53.860] – Boris
Okay. GivingTuesday has been around for nine years now. Right? This is your number nine.

[00:05:59.760] – Kat Murphy Toms
This is number nine.

[00:05:59.760] – Boris
How’s it doing? Can you give us some stats?

[00:06:01.880] – Kat Murphy Toms
So I think everybody knows this story by now. This thing started as a day for anyone, anywhere to give. We said, okay, you’ve got Cyber Monday, you’ve got Black Friday. What does it look like if we create a day that flips that narrative on the head that people can do the reverse of that consumerism behavior?

[00:06:22.070] – Kat Murphy Toms
And maybe the original idea was like, hey, maybe people will take a little bit of their savings on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, throw it toward the nonprofit sector, and it morphed into something so much bigger than that.

[00:06:37.470] – Kat Murphy Toms
It was novel in the way that the team designed it because they hoped that people would grab it and take it somewhere new. And that’s exactly what people did. The thing that supercharged GivingTuesday was these small communities. Families, people all over the country and eventually around the world saying, I’m going to make this part of my annual tradition. And I think the most interesting thing about GivingTuesday as we watched it grow, is that from the very first day, this was a story about other people stepping up and raising their hand and saying, I want to make this idea better.

[00:07:10.930] – Kat Murphy Toms
Countries started calling. This was born out of the 92nd Street Y New York. Countries would call and say, hey, can we take this idea? I was one of them in Illinois. And then the UK called and Canada called and Henry Timms and Asha Curran said, yes, absolutely. Take this. Here’s the logo files. You can do whatever you want with it.

[00:07:30.990] – Kat Murphy Toms
70 countries later… 70 official country movements later, when we look at the data on the other side of GivingTuesday there was actually activity in every single country and territory on Earth. Last year was the first time that actually happened. We’ve been watching that grow. And last year was the first time we’ve been ever actually technically able to say there is something happening—whether that’s somebody tweeting about their favorite cause, whether that’s somebody sharing on their Instagram that they did an act of kindness in every single place on Earth, including space. Christina Koch, the astronaut, tweeted from space about why she loves GivingTuesday and how she’ll be participating. And it’s just the coolest thing.

[00:08:14.800] – Boris
That’s amazing.

[00:08:15.219] – Kat Murphy Toms
It is.

[00:08:17.030] – Boris
It’s now an extra-planetary movement.

[00:08:18.290] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:08:20.550] – Kat Murphy Toms
And the thing that’s most interesting for me about this whole concept is not just about fundraising. This is a movement that people all over the world are leveraging, and it’s nonprofits’ opportunity to tap into that and to focus that energy toward their own cause in a myriad of different ways. So GivingTuesday celebrates absolutely all acts of generosity that you could ever imagine and encourages all of that. It’s not just about fundraising. Contrary to most of the questions that I ever get asked about GivingTuesday. The most successful nonprofits on GivingTuesday are actually asking their current supporters to activate for them in other ways and asking new supporters to come into their mission in other ways.

[00:09:11.420] – Kat Murphy Toms
Can you volunteer for me? Can you help me get ready for my GivingTuesday campaign? Can you join our junior board? Can you join with us and we’re going to create a pop up grocery store for homeless folks on GivingTuesday. People want to give desperately. And we’ll talk more about this in a little bit, especially now when the whole world is on fire, literally in some cases, and we are in crisis mode, and people want to give during crisis. It’s the one thing that they want to do.

[00:09:45.310] – Boris
You know, I want to get into all of that. And I love that there are so many different things that people can use GivingTuesday to activate their supporters. But let’s back up just a second, because I think you’re aware that there’s people out there and I’m on some Facebook groups for nonprofits, and people are asking, “Is GivingTuesday even worth it anymore?” You’re nine years in. It’s super popular, super buzzy. Is it too noisy for nonprofits to get involved at this point?

[00:10:17.960] – Kat Murphy Toms
No, that’s the entire point. Now GivingTuesday… it’s up to your nonprofit. You are welcome to participate in GivingTuesday. We’re not on a mission to ask every single nonprofit in the world to participate in GivingTuesday. That’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here to create a movement of excited donors who want to do something on this day, and then it’s your choice if you would like to enter into that opportunity or not, or leverage the movement in whatever way that you want to.

[00:10:48.140] – Kat Murphy Toms
That’s the thing about GivingTuesday. You can be creative, and you should be creative when you’re developing your campaign. The noise… So…

[00:11:01.880] – Kat Murphy Toms
No. It’s not too noisy because you’re not trying to compete with everyone who’s using the GivingTuesday hashtag. And if that’s what you think you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong. What you’re supposed to be doing on GivingTuesday is mobilizing your current supporters. That’s who you’re fighting against. The average person is not subscribed to 800 nonprofit newsletters like Boris, I know you and I are, and every other nonprofit development director that I know is subscribed to everyone’s nonprofit newsletter because they’re trying to get ideas. They’re trying to collaborate with each other. That’s just what we do as fundraisers.

[00:11:39.360] – Kat Murphy Toms
The average world citizen, that is not the case at all. They are not hearing about GivingTuesday in their inbox 800 times a day like you are as a fundraising director. I always try to remind folks of that. This is not as noisy as I think you think it may be. And then you’re not out here to be capturing people who are browsing on the GivingTuesday hashtag. You are out here to be mobilizing your current supporters to go out and get word out to their followers about why they might get involved in your GivingTuesday campaign.

[00:12:21.300] – Kat Murphy Toms
Peer to peer fundraising on GivingTuesday is probably one of the most effective campaign strategies, if not the most effective campaign strategies. So that’s where you’re asking your current supporters to, “hey, will you run a Facebook fundraiser for me?” Will you run on whatever platform you want, by the way, you don’t have to do this on Facebook. You can do use whatever peer to peer fundraising platform you currently use and go out there and ask your friends and family members to get involved in your mission.

[00:12:57.950] – Kat Murphy Toms
There’s no noise, there’s no noise.

[00:13:00.940] – Boris
So that makes total sense. And I think what a lot of people are seeing as noise is the—in another word—groundswell of activity that is becoming audible. And I think that’s fantastic, because what it should be doing, hopefully, is reminding people, “Oh, yeah, this is a day of giving. What are the organizations that I care about?” It’s on the news. And it’s not like, oh, now I’m going to go surf the GivingTuesday hashtag.

[00:13:27.390] – Kat Murphy Toms
There are only three days of the year where folks are actively looking for organizations to support. It’s, GivingTuesday, and then the last two days of the year when they’re trying to get their IRS, whatever it is that they get here in the United States, their tax break. So on GivingTuesday, this is more of a joy they’re looking to give out of joy. And that’s why it’s one of the reasons we invented this day. You come to tax day at the end of the year, and people are just plain, like, [sighs] that’s not exciting to be writing a check and sticking into the mail in order in order to achieve your tax benefit.

[00:14:05.260] – Kat Murphy Toms
What’s more exciting is to give in a joyful way. You’re given with the entirety of the rest of the world, to be a part of something bigger than yourself. And it’s amazing.

[00:14:16.010] – Boris
So you mentioned the end of year tax breaks, which, you know, you could be donating at any time and get the same tax break throughout the year.

[00:14:24.530] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yeah. But you know procrastinators,

[00:14:25.850] – Boris
Of course, everybody does.

[00:14:27.210] – Kat Murphy Toms
Everybody waits until the last two days of the year.

[00:14:29.260] – Boris
Absolutely. I understand. I’m—one of my other titles is Procrastinator in Chief around here. But the question does come up, then, “well are people going to see our GivingTuesday campaign, give us something on social media, and then feel like, well, I gave at the office, so to speak, and now neglect us at the end of year with their maybe bigger donation.”

[00:14:51.830] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yep. Constantly. The basic answer to that is that does not happen. The longer answer to that question is that GivingTuesday operates a Data Department. I don’t know that folks know about this. We’re humble about it. We don’t talk about it nearly enough, but we operate the Data Commons. It’s the, as far as I know, only philanthropic, collaboration like this that’s ever existed. It’s the way that we come up with the GivingTuesday total at the end of the year.

[00:15:23.880] – Kat Murphy Toms
We have organized… not me, my colleague Woodrow, who runs this entire beautiful operation, has organized every single donation platform, nonprofit donation platform here in the United States, and hundreds of others throughout the world.

[00:15:39.670] – Kat Murphy Toms
So these are your Classys, your Blackbauds, your Network for Goods, your Give Lively, every… QGiv, GiveGab. All of them are in a Slack group. They talk to each other, they collaborate on things and, most importantly, they give us their data. All of it, aggregated and scrubbed. It’s anonymized I don’t literally have your donors information. It’s all aggregated, I promise. But we have that for not just GivingTuesday. We have that for the entirety of the year. So what that empowers us to be able to do is absolutely immense.

[00:16:15.300] – Kat Murphy Toms
We can study everything from this exact question about does GivingTuesday cannibalize? It does not. In fact, GivingTuesday is additive. We’re seeing trends where folks are giving more at the end of the year because they gave a gift first on GivingTuesday and then they receive that on end-of-year-appeal and they just plain give again. I don’t know what else to say about it.

[00:16:38.410] – Kat Murphy Toms
It does not cannibalize end of year. The other thing that we’re finding is that folks who give first on GivingTuesday stick around for longer and longer periods of time than someone who gave for the first time on some other random different day of the year.

[00:16:56.210] – Kat Murphy Toms
They’re just inherently more engaged. It’s just the type of person who participates in GivingTuesday. We’re still studying this phenomenon about why exactly this is. But these are the kind of folks who are more likely to sign up for your monthly giving. They are more likely to respond to your ask to come out for a volunteer project. They are more likely to join your junior board and get more and more actively engaged in your cause. It’s amazing. I could go on forever about this, but the opportunity for participating and GivingTuesday is absolutely immense.

[00:17:34.920] – Boris
So I think that’s amazing. First of all, that you have that kind of data, is that publicly available somehow? Can we find it?

[00:17:41.500] – Kat Murphy Toms
Mostly, yes. If you go to, there’s a menu item called Data and Insights. There’s two sections. We also collect academic research on everything related to generosity, not just fundraising, but volunteerism, mutual aid, all civil society things. And then we have a whole data hub.

[00:18:05.590] – Boris
That’s amazing. I’m definitely going to find that.

[00:18:08.490] – Kat Murphy Toms
It’s really nerdy.

[00:18:09.720] – Boris
If you don’t see me for a month. That’s because I’m playing with your data.

[00:18:13.810] – Kat Murphy Toms
Boris, I can’t even click on it because I go down a rabbit hole every single time. I’ve had to ban myself from clicking on the data. It’s absolutely incredible. There’s working groups who work on all kinds of different things. Workplace giving work group. There is a crowd funding work group. There’s a DAF Holders work group. We do a lot of other things outside of just pulling off this annual day that we do. It’s Cool.

[00:18:42.280] – Boris
So I’m sold. I mean, I have been, I actually wrote articles about GivingTuesday at like, oh my God, so many years ago.

[00:18:50.710] – Kat Murphy Toms
Then we appreciate you. Your one of the folks who helped mobilize and start this whole thing.

[00:18:58.280] – Boris
Anything I could do. I mean, that’s my goal, but alright, let’s say that the listeners, if they weren’t already sold on trying to do a GivingTuesday campaign or haven’t been doing them previously that they are now. Alright, we’re all in. What should we be doing? How do we make this the best effort, the best use of our time. Everybody is strapped for time. It’s one of the least appreciated resources that nonprofits are over stretched on. How do we maximize our time and maximize this campaign to get the most out of GivingTuesday?

[00:19:33.570] – Kat Murphy Toms
All right, a few things don’t invent a completely separate campaign than your end-of-year campaign. The most successful nonprofits are using GivingTuesday as a launching point into their end-of-year campaign. So don’t waste your time coming up with a completely different call to action, a completely different story line, new completely different graphics. There’s no reason for that. Just kick off your end-of-year campaign on GivingTuesday and run at the entire month of December.

[00:20:05.380] – Kat Murphy Toms
Tip number two is to if you haven’t already send your supporters a Save-the-Date email, and in that email, put a calendar invite. Literally a calendar invite. Folks are busy, especially now and I don’t know about you, but if it’s not in my calendar, it is not happening at all. So, you might send different calendar invites to different parts of your audience. If you’re sending it to your general supporters, you might put your donate link in that calendar invite. So when they get the notification on their Apple watch, they can go on their phone and hopefully your mobile donation pages. Mobile friendly.

[00:20:50.010] – Kat Murphy Toms
That’s probably tip number three actually optimize everything you have for mobile. And if you don’t have time to do that, you might think about just using one of the Facebook fundraisers or an Instagram fundraiser or something like that just so that folks can easily give on their phone. If you might send a calendar invitation to your board members that includes “copy-pastable” social media and a reminder that says like, “Hey, can you copy-paste this into your Twitter today or your LinkedIn today to help remind your folks to give on GivingTuesday” or whatever it is that your call to action is for that particular group.

[00:21:31.340] – Kat Murphy Toms
Calendar invite is the number one most effective tool to use on GivingTuesday. Hands down. If you have SMS or like, mobile messaging, text messaging at your disposal, that’s probably the second best. As you are well aware, the open rate on a text message is something like 90% and the click through rate on those are pretty amazing to compared to things like email and social media. So if you have that at your disposal, you’re still early enough. You can investigate that now hopefully.

[00:22:07.100] – Kat Murphy Toms
I use Community for our text messaging. I love it. It’s great. I want to say GiveLively and there’s a couple of other platforms that have mobile giving, which is a little bit different than the Community portal that I use. Big fan of mobile, big fan of text messaging.

[00:22:24.960] – Boris
Mobile is definitely sticking around and has taken over the web traffic, and it’s slowly, if not that slowly actually, taking over the giving space as well. We’re just on our phones all the time.

[00:22:38.680] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:22:40.260] – Boris
It’s the immediate place to reach us. It’s also the easiest place for us to take actions. The more you can channel us there and make it frictionless for us to give, the better it is. So let me just recap. You said first, use this as the launch of your year-end campaign, not an entirely separate campaign, which also saves a lot of bandwidth and work in the first place.

[00:22:59.490] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:23:00.600] – Boris
Great. The second thing you said was to send a calendar invite. Again, great idea. When you first shared this with me a couple of weeks ago, I think, I thought that was brilliant. Why isn’t everybody doing that?

[00:23:11.830] – Kat Murphy Toms
I know about a personal mission to get everyone to do this.

[00:23:15.550] – Boris
And you could be absolutely segmenting it. So if you know, ahead of time the people who are going to do Facebook fundraiser, then you could be sending them a reminder. Okay. You’re going to launch today, and you’re going to say this, right? Here’s some sample text, which I also do all the time. Make it super easy.

[00:23:32.710] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:23:32.710] – Boris
You should copy-paste this. Put your name in here if you want to or fill in the blank. But here’s what you’re going to say and go, go, go. Right?

[00:23:39.840] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yes. Yes. That’s like a blanket statement. You have to make it as easy as possible for anyone that is helping you out in your GivingTuesday campaign. For supporters, for the people who are volunteering to get out there and fundraise for you, it has to be easy as pie. Everybody has to have “copy-pastable” emails. I will make people a toolkit, and I think I have some of this actually prefabbed tool kits that you can customize and then share out to your peer-to-peer fundraisers. With all of this, like sample social media posts, a sample email that they might send to their friends. We try to shortcut everything for you all.

[00:24:20.250] – Boris
That’s amazing. And we will find those. We will link them in the show notes. Because everybody should at least start with that.

[00:24:27.000] – Kat Murphy Toms
Everything’s at

[00:24:29.360] – Boris
Absolutely. And then there’s the resources section. I know you’ve got some special things for nonprofits there. We’re going to drive as many people there as we can to get their campaigns going. And then the thing about mobile optimization, of course, when behavioral scientists, behavioral economists a few years back, more than a few now, were doing research on how to get people to take action, the traditional philosophies of carrot and stick methodologies, they realized, “Okay. Yeah. Those work somewhat, but actually the most effective thing is to remove as much friction as possible to the fact you want people to take.”

[00:25:06.490] – Boris
It’s almost like when you think about a river. Water will cut through the softest rock. It’s not going to go. “Oh, I have to go this way. Therefore, I’m gonna borrow through the granite. No, no, I’ll go through the softer sediment instead.” Same thing with the way that we behave as human beings. Make it the default. Make it the easiest thing possible. And as long as we don’t disagree with it and don’t have an issue with it, we’re going to go in that direction.

[00:25:29.680] – Kat Murphy Toms
We’ve got time now. So I hope that nonprofits are looking at their donate pages right now. You’ve got time to fix it if it needs fixing. I don’t know that folks go through their own donation process often enough. I like to advise folks to do that at least quarterly, because stuff changes on the back end to some of these donation platforms, and they don’t tell you. And it’s good habit to get into just donate a dollar to your own organization every once in a while, just so you can experience what the donor experiences. When it comes to GivingTuesday and you want them to take action immediately, you have to create as least space as possible between the thing that motivated your person to click on that donate button versus getting them to actually submit their credit card number or information.

[00:26:21.230] – Kat Murphy Toms
So these donate pages, they kill me. The ones that ask for the mailing address, the ones that ask for T-shirt size, the ones that ask for a whole host of other other 30 fields later. And then you’ve lost me. I have to go tend to these children. I have to cook my dinner. The phone has rung… you lost me. I’m sorry.

[00:26:43.280] – Boris
And I also might not—I might appreciate what you’re doing and want to donate to it—but I might not trust you enough yet with all my personal information.

[00:26:50.210] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:26:50.210] – Boris
I’ve fought with nonprofit leaders about including a phone number field. “No, I have to call them all.” Okay, sure. Can you follow up later, maybe?

[00:26:59.910] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:26:59.910] – Boris
And say, hey, we would love to be able to communicate with you in other ways. Can we please have your phone number?

[00:27:06.150] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yes. Perfect opportunity to touch that person again a couple of weeks later and get them re engaged in your mission. And so I am a fan of as least as possible. If you can figure out how to get Apple Pay so that I can just double click and it automatically inputs my stuff. That’s ideal.

[00:27:25.010] – Boris
Yeah. And the whole thing about going through your funnel, your donate funnel, quarter or so I think, is great. Not just to see how frictionless it is, but also the full donor experience shouldn’t stop there, right?

[00:27:38.541] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:27:38.550] – Boris
It should go on afterwards. And when you talked earlier about these folks who are giving again at the end of the year, maybe even giving more. Well, the question is, what did you do with them between the time they gave for GivingTuesday and the time that you asked for your final end of year request? If you gave them some positive reinforcement, if you gave them some more stories, if you made them feel more involved, if you asked them for their input and make them feel like a valued member of the community, you’ve increased their stake.

[00:28:08.600] – Boris
They’re going to then increase their desire to give more, to make it a stronger organization and help you succeed on your mission. Because it’s your group mission now. It’s not just. “Oh, that’s what that organization is doing.” It’s “look at me. I’m doing this!”

[00:28:22.180] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yes, Boris. That’s it. Nailed it.

[00:28:27.590] – Boris
I’m preaching to the choir at the moment, but hopefully there are organizations that do need to hear this and can think about this. Last week I had a guest on here who is all about the thank-you follow ups. And it’s so underutilized and underperforming for everybody. The relationship only starts at the first donation.

[00:28:49.980] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:28:51.710] – Boris

[00:28:52.950] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yes, exactly. Nailed it. This is about building a movement for your mission. This is not about simply collecting five-dollar donors and then not talking to them again until next GivingTuesday.

[00:29:08.110] – Boris
So, GivingTuesday is the kickoff day, let’s say, for the end-of-year campaign.

[00:29:13.420] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:29:13.420] – Boris
If we haven’t started planning yet for how to do that kickoff, is it too late or what should we be doing right now?

[00:29:21.800] – Kat Murphy Toms
No, I should hope that everyone’s starting to think about their end-of-year campaign. My goodness, if you all aren’t, you need to do that today. Where to start? That calendar invite, for starters. Figuring out what you’re going to do. What is your story going to be for your end-of-year campaign? How are you going to speak authentically about your mission? How are you going to set a goal, first of all. I think that’s another underutilized tactic.

[00:29:51.610] – Kat Murphy Toms
The nonprofits who have the best GivingTuesdays are almost always the ones who set some sort of clear, smart, tangible goal for not only they’re GivingTuesday campaign, but their end of year in general. Whether that’s: I want to get a X number of new donors. I want to sign up however many number of people for my monthly giving. I want to get sign ups for volunteers, whatever it is, put a number on it, give yourself a bar and work towards that.

[00:30:24.540] – Boris
Do you make those numbers public?

[00:30:27.300] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yeah, I do. I mean, we know for GivingTuesday because we never want to make a guess about what GivingTuesday is going to do, because we never know, we never know. But for nonprofits, absolutely. It gives your folks something to rally behind and some motivation and to see a little bit of the impact.

[00:30:48.200] – Boris
Absolutely. So I always like to talk about what are the metrics that need to be gauged to know whether or not you’ve succeeded? To know whether or not whether or not there’s something you can learn and how you could do better the following year.

[00:31:04.230] – Boris
But also, it’s this concept that I think really took off publicly when crowdfunding first became a big thing. You set a goal. Suddenly people see that goal and they see that you’re trying to get there and that there’s other people supporting it. There becomes this groundswell effect and now, “help us cross that finish” line is such a powerful motivator for people who believe that some of them actually come back in crowdfunding campaigns and donate again.

[00:31:28.650] – Kat Murphy Toms
Absolutely. Absolutely. Have you seen this Quentin Quarantino fundraiser? No. It’s absolutely mind blowing so quick. Quentin Quarantino is this Instagram influencer, he got popular, making memes about all kinds of funny things over the high quarantine times. Right. He started a fundraiser to get Afghanis, refugees, out of Afghanistan and into safe places, and particularly the people who are like human rights activists, LGBTQ activists—the people who really need to be out of that country right now—had set a goal for, like, $500,000. I think it was.

[00:32:10.300] – Boris
That’s ambitious.

[00:32:11.610] – Kat Murphy Toms
Raised 16,000 of it in the first couple of minutes. It’s currently at $6 million. It’s been two days. And exactly what you said. I think people see this. They want to be a part of this groundswell movement. And you, scrolling through, you can see people giving again and giving more. It absolutely blows my mind every time I see it, even though I know for fact that this is effective fundraising and that that happens and that people are generally… that’s our humanity. The one thing that all of humanity shares is our want and our need to be generous. But it still blows my mind every single time.

[00:32:49.600] – Boris
We have a need to solidify our place in community and to give back. It’s part of the social contract that we want to be perceived as good, but we also want to reinforce good out there. So there is this need for generosity that’s baked into our DNA in a lot of ways.

[00:33:07.970] – Kat Murphy Toms
And that’s exactly the GivingTuesday magic. We have this need to… we want to post about our generosity. We want to share it with the world, and it just creates this groundswell and tornado and a Hurricane of generosity and it’s amazing to see every single time.

[00:33:23.360] – Boris
Okay, I know you’ve got a lot going on. And I know every nonprofit who’s hopefully listening to this if they weren’t already busy thinking about their year-end campaign, hopefully their brains are spinning right now. So I want to ask you, besides the tools that we know are up on GivingTuesday and some of the ones that you mentioned that we’re going to link to in the show notes, are there any other tools or books or anything that you recommend nonprofit leaders be thinking about or reading, right now?

[00:33:47.410] – Kat Murphy Toms
I’ve been consuming the entire Community Centric Fundraising website. I think it’s phenomenal. It’s so very GivingTuesday. It’s about how can we take a community-centered approach to our fundraising. It’s all of the things that we just talked about: community first. How can we involve folks together to give back toward our mission and center that. It’s amazing. All great, super great resources. What else have I been consuming? If you haven’t read our book, GivingTuesday has a book. It’s called New Power. Henry Timms wrote it. It’s amazing. Highly recommend that, too. What else?

[00:34:28.850] – Kat Murphy Toms
And follow us on social because we post about all of these things. We post about generosity and the rest of the world and tips that you can glean from the rest of the world, collaborate and innovate with everyone else. So please, if you’re not following our social, you should. If you’re not on our email list, you absolutely should be there. Make sure you flag yourself as a nonprofit so that I know to send you the weekly “what you should be doing for your GivingTuesday campaign” email, which will start soon. Not yet. In a couple of weeks. I need to make that.

[00:35:02.860] – Boris
Well, thank you so much for all this brilliant insight and passion that you have for doing what you do. It’s fun to see your face light up as you’re talking about this because you’re so into it and you know the power of it yourself. You grew up with it, if you will. And now you’re helping spread that joy and that power. So it’s amazing. We will, of course, like I said, link to all of this stuff. If people want to get in touch with you or connect with you, is there a way that you prefer for them to do that?

[00:35:31.240] – Kat Murphy Toms
@GivingTuesday. I am the person who operates that handle. I get back to you right away.

[00:35:37.100] – Boris
Fantastic. Kathleen, thank you so much for your time today. I think maybe we’ll even check back in with you because there’s more things that I want to talk to you about. But maybe after GivingTuesday where we could get together again to talk about… “that’s done, what do we do next?”

[00:35:52.000] – Kat Murphy Toms

[00:35:52.450] – Boris
“How do we follow up with that. And how do we prepare for next year?”

[00:35:55.000] – Kat Murphy Toms
Yeah. It’s great idea. Yeah. Let’s do that.

[00:35:57.560] – Boris
Awesome. Thanks again, Kathleen. And thank you everybody for joining us today for the Nonprofit Hero Factory. I’ve had a great time talking. I hope you had a great time listening. Please check out the show notes for all of the different tools that Kathleen referenced. And, of course, subscribe. Give us a review so that more nonprofit leaders like you can discover people like Kathleen and the work that we’re trying to do here to activate more heroes for your cause. Thank you, everybody.

[00:36:42.150] – Outro Video
Thank you all for watching and listening to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, we hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • GivingTuesday was born from the idea to encourage people to take a bit of their savings from Black Friday and Cyber Monday and put them towards the nonprofit sector. (6:01)
    • The goal from the start was to empower people to take GivingTuesday into new directions, and they have.
  • GivingTuesday is not just about fundraising. It generates acts of generosity of all types and encourages everyone to do it. (8:20)
  • Don’t worry about the “noise.” (11:01)
    • GivingTuesday should not be about competing with others or anyone using the hashtag. What nonprofits should be doing, is mobilizing their current supporters, getting them to spread the word and even start their own peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns that day.
    • There isn’t as much noise as you might think. Keep in mind that the average person does not subscribe to as many nonprofit newsletters as a fundraising and marketing professional.
  • GivingTuesday does not cannibalize end of the year giving. (16:38)
    • In fact, people get more engaged, especially those who gave for the first time, and stick around longer.
    • If nurtured properly, many will even give again at the end of the year.
  • Tips for getting the most out of GivingTuesday (19:33)
    1. Don’t invent a completely new campaign. Use GivingTuesday as a year-end campaign kickoff.
    2. Send your supporters a save-the-date email. And add a calendar invite in that email. You can even put your donate link right in the calendar invite so that the alert pops up with the link to give!
    3. Optimize everything for mobile. If you don’t have a great mobile experience, consider using Facebook or Instagram fundraisers. And use SMS if you can, because it has significantly higher open rates.
  • Make it as easy as possible for your supporters to help with your campaign by giving them templates, graphics, social media language and more. The GivingTuesday website has a lot of these already available on their website. (23:39)
  • When it comes to driving action, you want to remove as much friction as possible—to shorten the distance between the impulse to donate and the ability to complete a donation. Remove everything possible in between, including extra fields in your forms, the need to switch platforms, and other factors that make for a poor user experience. (24:40)
  • Go through your donation process quarterly. Make a $1 donation to experience what your donor experiences, and make adjustments accordingly. (25:29)
  • Set a goal. The nonprofits who have the best GivingTuesdays are almost always the ones who set some sort of clear, smart, tangible goal for not only they’re GivingTuesday campaign, but their end of year in general. (29:51)
    • Making that goal public can create a groundswell of support, with people giving multiple times to help you succeed.
  • We have an innate desire to share our generosity with the world, and GivingTuesday gives us an excuse to do just that. That’s part of its magic. (33:07)

Action Steps: What Now?

About this week’s guest

Kat Murphy Toms

Kat Murphy Toms

Director, Digital Strategy, GivingTuesday

Kathleen Murphy Toms is the director of digital strategy for GivingTuesday. The biggest philanthropic movement in history, GivingTuesday leverages social media and a broad network of nonprofits, community activists, schools, brands, small businesses, and individuals to ignite a movement and global call to action to give. It has seen record-breaking engagement at every level of society – from some of the world’s biggest celebrities and influencers to students, volunteers, and everyday givers.

Kathleen studies the use of digital tools within social movements, particularly their use in shifting power, creating mass mobilization, instilling behavior change, and achieving global equity. Kathleen has coached thousands of social impact leaders and grassroots organizers from nearly every continent on how to not only generate funds for their causes but to inspire and mobilize groundswell movements to create systemic change. She is an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs where she teaches social changemakers how to develop innovative content marketing and digital strategies to activate and engage new audiences.

Connect with Kat Murphy Toms