A Giving Tuesday Perspective

There is a big difference between Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday was created to motivate a reaction -- not in response to a reaction -- by acompany called 92Y only 4 years ago.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday were named after we were already shopping on these days.

Don’t forget this detail. It’s important as it provides a foundation for building your program and for measuring the success of this day.

Giving Tuesday was created

Gving Tuesday was created to complement the previous days of “spend and spend some more.” And it’s working for some organizations. More than $46 million was raised in 24 hours in 2014 followed by $116 million in 2015 from nearly 700,000 donors. Numbers from 2016 look even higher.

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The collective power of small gifts through this movement has the potential to be amazing. The #givingtuesday social media effort reached nearly a million people in 2015 – so even if someone didn’t give, they were absorbing messages about giving. 

The Case Foundation notes that the top five issues talked about in 2015's efforts were education, environment, animals, health care and international affairs.

But it’s not working for everyone.

Even me. And I say “even me” because I work in one of the areas most mentioned – healthcare.

I spent a considerable amount of time in 2016 educating myself about the various methods and platforms, exploring best practices, teaching myself new technologies, creating beautiful webpages, visiting with staff and donors about stories and desires, etc. I engaged our staff and recruited social media champions.

I did everything  I was “suppose” to do, and I created seamless, beautiful technology and processes to make this a great experience for donors.  

And I raised less money than I did the year before.

Last year, I created one email and a handful of social media posts. It took me about one hour.

Was my time and effort wasted this year?

No. #givingtuesday is still a baby, and the effort is still being massaged. Many people still don't know or understand the movement. 

This is where we have to remember that this movement was created -- and is not a response to something already happening. 

I've learned some lessons for myself and my organization, and I am ready to tackle online giving as this area continues to grow nationally and internationally. We have platforms ready to go and we have tested them. I still believe that we have an extraordinary opportunity to connect with our supporters through digital philanthropy methods. 

I could spend a lot of time exploring all the reasons it didn’t do as well as I had hoped – I have a few hunches but it’s hard to measure hunches.

Measuring Success

Dollars raised is not the only valuable measurement tool. We found some wins in other areas.

I reached a bigger audience, I asked many more people this year, and I educated nondonors about our mission.

I also have us poised for 2017 and the 80 million millennials that primarily use digital technology for their philanthropy.   

Below you will see some examples of our social media graphics. Email was also used heavily for this campaign.

Amy Jones is the Associate Director of Development at the Trinity Health Foundation. She designed and built this campaign with the help of the Foundation team. They had a budget of $200. 

Amy specializes in nonprofit communication and has spent her career exploring ways to connect with donors about the impact of their philanthropy.