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What is Giving Day (and Why Should I Care)?

In creating an annual celebration around annual fundraising, Giving Tuesday offers a powerful alternative to the occasional ask. Created in 2012 as a charitable counterweight to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a universal opportunity for organizations to leverage the power of social networks to draw attention, amplify excitement, garner competition and create a sense of urgency. The December 1 date aligns perfectly with the end of the calendar year, and gives organisations time after summer and before the holidays to prepare. That time is now.

The idea: Host a Giving Tuesday, on which alumni (or any other constituency, for that matter) will be asked to give within a 24-hour time period and will not be asked for annual purposes again for the rest of the fiscal year. Globally, that day is December 1.

While the ask only lasts a day, the buildup and preparation takes several weeks. Here are the top ten tips to get started! 

1. Create a timeline.

2. Enlist volunteers and clarify roles & responsibilities.

3. Develop new vs. current donor strategies, brainstorm unique messaging for various platforms & audiences.

4. Secure full Board and volunteer commitment.

5. Educate! Conduct a training session/webinar for volunteers.

6. Develop a progressive story, broken into pieces, conveying different messages and featuring different images, culminating on Giving Tuesday.

7. Get creative! Will a favorite member of the team shave their head if you meet your goal?

8. Instill competition amongst various groups and organizations.

9. Go viral! Post photos, update real-time progress, ask any celebs you know to retweet, pay to boost content, pay attention to analytics, ask followers to share.

10. Keep content fresh for ongoing engagement.

Sounds fun, right? You still have time to implement a 2015 Giving Tuesday on December 1! 

Typically a soft marketing launch should take place four weeks out (save the date, email signature, mailer, word of mouth) with a full-on marketing blitz reserved for two weeks out (email strategy, social media campaign, phone calls, kick-off events). You’ll want to use your discretion in terms of the right number of outbound communications, but fortunately everyone knows that the communications will taper off after December 1. Tailor emails to different lists, utilizing data about these donors and targeting specific types of donors with specific messaging. Consider hosting an all-day event for your community to really feel like a part of the action. Giving Tuesday gives donors a sense of pride and connection to the big picture. Don’t forget to publicize goals, incentives, progress and prizes!

Giving Tuesdays educate your community about the importance of annual support, increase annual giving, attract new donors, build a culture of philanthropy and make giving fun. Many organizations have a donor participation goal vs. a dollar goal, so that everyone feels as though their gift has an equal impact.

On the day of, don’t just sit back and watch the money roll in! Send a few friendly reminders around breakfast, lunchtime, happy hour and dinnertime, keeping the tone light and fun. Give real-time progress updates and don’t underestimate the power of photos (animals do best!), videos, mascots, and maps of gift origin. All of this content should be shareable via social channels. 

There is no perfect formula for Giving Tuesday, but planning ahead is key. Getting volunteers and ambassadors in place, creating a marketing campaign strategy, analyzing donor data and even building out a special webpage solely for this occasion all take time. For example, Muhlenberg College created three versions of every email they were sending on Giving Day, depending on how successfully the campaign was progressing. Now that’s thinking ahead.

Does Giving Tuesday really work?

Muhlenberg exceeds their participation rates every year, with over 1,740 donors last year of which over 300 were first-time donors. VP for Advancement Rebekkah Brown attributes this to “positive messaging, school spirit, and a meaningful and fun cause.”

 And just when you think it’s time to kick back and enjoy your success over a glass of champagne, think again. Thanking your donors is the most important part of all! Consider thanking them in real-time as the gifts come in, post a thank-you message on your website, have students sign cards, translate amount into impact, send photos, post donor names on Facebook and create a video. Remember that even though this was a fun and unique giving platform, these are real donors who will likely stick with you for the long haul. Don’t treat them differently than any other donor: invite, steward, and invest in keeping them engaged.

What if someone wants to give early or late? Nope! This is a one-day extravaganza: 6am-midnight. After that, your alumni can focus on hearing about your meaningful engagement efforts, without it being clouded by the blah blah blahs.

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