Giving Tuesday: Time to take this once fundraising afterthought to the forefront of your organizational communications

By Mary Ellen Beatty 

Giving Tuesday started just a few years ago as a scrappy non-profit attempt to draw on the consumer exuberance for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  For some charities, it is now a major fundraising event.  

In 2017, it is estimated that Giving Tuesday raised $274 million for nonprofit organizations- a 50 percent increase from 2016. Two million individuals opened their wallets on that single day- or more likely, clicked a donate button with average gift of $120.40.  

Non-profit fundraisers have been quick to incorporate Giving Tuesday into their annual campaign strategy. But it’s time to make it a priority of your organizational communications.  

Communication professionals:  here are a few ways your digital marketing team can maximize the success of your organization’s Giving Tuesday campaign.  

Collaborate internally: A successful Giving Tuesday strategy uses all digital and social channels in a collaborative effort which involves more than just a link to your existing donation page. Development teams have traditionally taken the lead on messaging and planning. But the ideas, insights, and implementation methods of a supportive marketing and communication team will strengthen the overall strategy. If you work in a support department, ask the Development Director to outline his or her expectations for the Communication team’s involvement. And then do some active listening. The goal is to support, not take over the initiative. If the Director is unsure, be prepared to offer suggestions of what your team can offer. But let Development take the lead. Next, schedule a combined brainstorm session. Recruit the creative types to join and ask them to come ready with ideas. This is one of the few development efforts where you can break away from traditional fundraising formulas and have fun.  

Think visually: Giving Tuesday is a chance to add pictures to your non-profit storybook that too often come in the form of a ten-page page direct mail letter. The best Giving Tuesday campaigns have a strong visual component- cue the communication team! Part of this means creating a customized Giving Tuesday logo, graphic, or landing page to emphasize that this is not a typical “ask.” You can disrupt the normal branding and color scheme of your organization to show that this ask is special and requires your donors’ extra special attention. Be creative and let the mission come alive through powerful and inspiring images.  

Lead with your heart:  Analytics and quantitative successes have a time and place in fundraising (the Annual Report, for example). But compelling Giving Tuesday campaigns pull at the donors’ emotions. On Giving Tuesday, focus on the why, not the how. You are inviting your supporters to sit at the digital dinner table with you and talk about what matters most. Utilize the Thanksgiving holiday to communicate to your donors how thankful you are for their support. Make your donors feel like they are part of your non-profit’s family and remind them you couldn’t do your important work without them. 

Collaboration may seem excessive when you initially start the planning process. But once you establish an interdepartmental strategy, Giving Tuesday will take on the prominent and successful role it deserves to play in your nonprofit organization.  

Mary Ellen Beatty is the Senior Communications Consultant at Cc: External Affairs. She can be reached at