GivingTuesday 2021: Everything Nonprofits Need to Know

Ryan Jones • Aug 31, 2021

The sun is lower in the sky. The leaves are just about to burst into flaming color. Pumpkin spice is being stockpiled for the upcoming insatiable demand. It’s almost autumn, and as the thoughts of many turn to jack-o-lanterns, turkey dinners, and cable-knit sweaters, nonprofit organizations are preoccupied with planning for a different special day: GivingTuesday.

The biggest day in nonprofit fundraising is just around the corner, and the time to prepare your campaign is now. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered with this primer on GivingTuesday 2021, including some great fundraising ideas. Let’s get into it!

Here is everything you need to know about GivingTuesday – in one spot!

What is GivingTuesday?

GivingTuesday was created by some dedicated and visionary folks at the 92nd Street Y in New York City in 2012. This national day of giving was intended to be a reaction against the consumerism and self-interest of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

It was initially conceived as a causeless day of giving—that is, the campaign was targeted at encouraging donations to any nonprofit, not to a specific mission. The organizers recognized that many people already feel a strong distaste for the holiday shopping season. GivingTuesday provides a wholesome and helpful outlet to them while changing the focus of many others to giving instead of spending.

Since its founding in the United States, GivingTuesday has expanded worldwide largely due to easy sharing on social media platforms using #GivingTuesday. GivingTuesday in 2020 raised a record $2.47 billion in the US alone, with much more donated around the world. This international giving day now includes calls to action beyond giving, including donation matching and volunteering

See more statistics from GivingTuesday 2020:

GivingTuesday 2020 Statistics (Infographic)

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When is GivingTuesday?

GivingTuesday is always the first Tuesday following Black Friday, which marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season. This year, GivingTuesday will take place on November 30, 2021. In 2022, it will take place on November 29. GivingTuesday always falls between November 27 and December 3.

Why Nonprofits Participate in GivingTuesday

Though there are plenty of emotional and cultural reasons to get involved with this international day of giving, there are three big strategic reasons that nonprofit organizations work hard to promote GivingTuesday.

1. Strategic Timing

Nearly a third of all giving occurs in December, including about 10% on the last three days of the year, propelled by the double whammy of holiday spirit and tax benefits from charitable giving. GivingTuesday happens at a time of year when people are already thinking about donating to nonprofit organizations, so it tends to be easy to encourage folks to give.

2. Capitalize on Momentum

Since so many nonprofit organizations are already talking about GivingTuesday, everywhere people look—on social media, on television, and even discussed amongst friends and family—there is a good chance that they will see multiple #GivingTuesday messages in a short period. This groundswell of momentum helps to push potential donors to get out their credit cards and give.

3. Raise Awareness

GivingTuesday isn’t just an opportunity to do short-term fundraising. Since people are primed to listen to nonprofit messaging at the end of the year, GivingTuesday is a chance to raise awareness about your cause and expand your audience, making future campaigns more successful.

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How Does a GivingTuesday Campaign Work?

Your GivingTuesday strategy should revolve around a one-day fundraising event taking place on November 30, 2021. While the GivingTuesday organization provides a lot of momentum and high-profile new coverage, planning a campaign is up to you. 

The GivingTuesday organization will not collect donations for you, and they won’t promote your campaign—remember, it’s a movement, not a fundraising organization. However, they do supply some helpful resources that you can use to help your event achieve success. 

You may want to run a general fundraising campaign, or you can focus on something more specific, like a special program or initiative. And because donations are a part of the public record, the GivingTuesday organization can add up all the donations made on this special day and publish a total that reflects the amount of good all the campaigns have done in aggregate.

GivingTuesday will likely attract more attention to your organization than any other campaign you mount all year, so it’s also a great time to evaluate your fundraising process. With more people entering your pipeline, you should be able to convert more prospects to donors during this period. So, it’s an excellent opportunity to test new strategies.

How to Run a GivingTuesday Campaign

Now that you understand where GivingTuesday came from, why it’s a big deal for nonprofit organizations, and how it works, it’s time to get into the details of how to run your campaign, which we’ve presented here in just six easy GivingTuesday tips.

1. Set Goals

Setting goals for any campaign is an essential practice. Goals allow you to aim your resources at the most effective targets, track how you’re doing during your fundraising, and see how well you did afterward. With well-conceived goals, you can even measure your performance year over year.

Start with simple, high-level questions as the foundation of your goal-setting process. How much money do we want to raise? How many new people do we want to reach? What metrics will we track? 

It’s important to remember to set goals that work for your organization; if your goals are too hard, you’ll have a tough time achieving them and risk damaging your team’s morale; too easy, and you’ll be leaving funds and followers on the table.

2. Develop a Campaign Strategy

Once you’ve decided what you want to get out of your campaign, you can start working on how you’re going to achieve it. A multi-channel approach for GivingTuesday is ideal since you only have one day to reach as many people as possible, and not everyone will be on Instagram that day. Plan to use email, social media, direct mail, and even phone calls to reach more supporters.

When constructing your campaign strategy, remember that GivingTuesday isn’t only about fundraising; it’s also about awareness. So be sure to include your organization’s brand front and center in all of your communications.

3. Create a Donor Stewardship Plan

GivingTuesday has the potential to add a lot of new names to your contact database, so you better be ready for them. You need to have a donor management strategy in place long before GivingTuesday gets rolling. 

This should include a reliable donor stewardship plan so that you can nurture your new donors and hopefully transform them into lifelong donors.

donor stewardship

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4. Recruit Stakeholders

GivingTuesday is an all-hands-on-deck fundraising event, which means you and your team don’t have to go it alone. Be sure to brief board members on your plans, get input from them, and capitalize on any special opportunities or resources they may have to offer.

GivingTuesday is also a great time to call on partnerships with corporations that you’ve worked with in the past. This could be as simple as asking them to amplify your message on social media if they have a large audience, or something even more impactful, like setting up a donation matching program that involves corporate employees.

5. Leverage Your Donor Base

One of the reasons GivingTuesday has been so successful is that the hashtag #GivingTuesday makes the day easily shareable on social media. And that shareability is something you can focus on for your campaign. 

Reach out to existing supporters and ask them to share your message on GivingTuesday with their networks—it’s a great way to reach people who may not otherwise see information about your mission.

Another great tactic is a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, where your supporters fundraise from their networks on your behalf. P2P campaigns are useful because they help spread your message beyond your usual reach while capturing donations from outside your usual circle of supporters.

6. Make a Post GivingTuesday Fundraising Plan

While GivingTuesday may feel like the end of the year, it’s actually the beginning of giving season. As noted above, 30% of donations happen in December. So, it’s prudent to be prepared to ride the momentum from GivingTuesday over the following few weeks. 

End-of-year donations are often the easiest to acquire, as long as you’re ready, so don’t forget to put a plan in place well before GivingTuesday so that you can nurture your new donors throughout the holiday season.

8 Fundraising Ideas for Your GivingTuesday 2021 Campaign

While you are undoubtedly a creative and organized individual, you may still need a little push in the right direction to get your campaign off to a great start. Here are some GivingTuesday campaign ideas that you can use or build off on for the big day this year.

1. Facebook Fundraiser

With billions of users and a suite of helpful nonprofit donation tools, Facebook is probably the best network to raise funds online. Chances are you already have an account for your organization, so all you need to do is come up with some messaging and take advantage of Facebook’s campaign resources on GivingTuesday.

2. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

We mentioned this already, but it bears repeating: peer-to-peer fundraising is ideal for GivingTuesday since it spreads awareness and raises money from people who might not have otherwise heard about your mission.

3. Use the #Unselfie Hashtag

People love sharing things about themselves on social media. For GivingTuesday this year, instead of seeing your supporters sharing their latest jogging time or what they ate for breakfast, encourage them to post an #unselfie. It’s a great way to create dialogue around donating to nonprofit organizations and unites potential supporters under a common movement.

4. Virtual Fundraiser

This year has been…unpredictable at best. There’s a solid chance that we’ll still be under some kind of restrictions during GivingTuesday this year—which could make in-person fundraisers complicated or impossible. If you’re worried about putting large groups of people in one room, or if your supporters are spread across the globe, a virtual fundraiser may be the answer. There are lots of ways to do it, and none of them require putting pants on. Bonus!

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5. Fundraising Thermometer

Using a fundraising thermometer can increase donations by up to 35%, a considerable effect from something that costs nothing to set up on your website. Consider using a fundraising thermometer no matter what your campaign looks like to keep your supporters motivated to reach the top.

6. Celebrity Endorsement

If you know a celebrity willing to support your cause by spreading your message, GivingTuesday is a great time to call in that favor. If you don’t know any famous folks, you can invest a small amount for a message from the wide selection of glitterati on Cameo, then use it in your campaign materials.

7. Coffee Date

GivingTuesday allows you to reach many more people than you usually would. And while some of those people might donate large amounts, many will donate nothing at all. 

But you may find that asking for small donations, like the amount a potential supporter might spend on a cup of coffee, is an effective way to raise funds from that enlarged audience while allowing you to capture their contact information for use in future donor communications. Five bucks is better than nothing, and it gives you a chance to build a genuine relationship with donors in the future.

8. Donation Matching

On GivingTuesday, people are already primed with a charitable spirit. Offering them the chance to double their donation is likely to garner a positive and enthusiastic response. Find a corporate sponsor or large private donor and craft your GivingTuesday communications around donation matching, being sure to emphasize that gifts will do twice as much good as they usually would.

More GivingTuesday Resources

Now that you’ve got the basics in your back pocket, you may want to dig a little deeper into how to plan a winning Giving Tuesday campaign. Luckily, we’ve got some great resources all lined up for you. 

  1. How Nonprofits can Make the Most of GivingTuesday: Check out this webinar with Adam Walker, Co-Founder of 48in48 and CMO at TechBridge, discussing how to leverage your communications channels for GivingTuesday. 
  2. Surefire Steps to Launch a Successful GivingTuesday Campaign: Get some more specific detail on what should go into your campaign messaging. 
  3. Steps to a Successful GivingTuesday Email: Don’t forget that the humble email is often the key to a great GivingTuesday campaign—so be sure to brush up on what to write, how to design it, and who to send it to. 
  4. GivingTuesday Campaign Brand Guide: We created a brand guide and worksheet to help you design elements of your campaign that’ll make your nonprofit stand out.
  5. Click here to Get Access to More GivingTuesday Resources

Good luck!

Are You Ready for GivingTuesday 2021?

This complete campaign toolkit will help you set up donation pages, events, social media, and email campaigns and includes handy timelines and templates to keep you on track.