3 mistakes you may be making with Giving Tuesday

I’ll be the first to admit it - I’m a Giving Tuesday skeptic!

But lately, I’ve started to come around. 

I like to keep an open mind when it comes to fundraising (and everything else!)...

And I’ve learned from my colleagues with digital expertise that Giving Tuesday can be a powerful part of your overall year-end fundraising strategy. 

However, that said - there are some very common mistakes I see (many in my own inbox!) when it comes to doing Giving Tuesday effectively. 

These mistakes are easy to avoid - and these fundraising ideas can also help you all year round:

Mistake 1: You’re excluding your major donors

Here’s a common practice I see throughout the year with major gift fundraising:

In an effort to make sure that your organization is building a highly personalized, one-to-one relationship with your major donors, they are siloed off and excluded from your ongoing communications, including your emails. 

Unless the donor has indicated that this is their preference, removing them from your digital and other communications is often a mistake. 

Your largest donors may wish to engage with you in a variety of different ways - some of which might be surprising to you.

I once worked with a midsized organization where one of their largest donors LOVED to participate in their holiday program by buying gift cards for the families this nonprofit worked with. 

This wasn’t instead of their yearly multiple 6-figure donation - it was as well as. And it was another way in which the donor engaged with the cause, and another opportunity to deepen that relationship. 

Could Giving Tuesday be the same? 

Even if you aren’t including your major donors in your digital communications, is there a role they can play? 

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to express gratitude to all your supporters - or perhaps there’s a chance to engage your major donors in creating a matching gift campaign.

Mistake 2: You have a weak or missing CTA

Whether you’re asking for $25, or $25,000, developing a well-crafted call to action (CTA) will help your fundraising campaign skyrocket to success.

A weak or missing call to action can have the opposite effect. 

Donors, feeling unclear and lacking that crucial sense of urgency, turn their attention elsewhere, consigning your important message to the mental recycling bin.  

And having more than one CTA - no matter how well crafted - is another common mistake. 

I get it – you have a lot going on, and it’s so tempting to slip in an additional ask to buy a 50/50 ticket, or come to an upcoming event. 

No matter what your call to action is, make sure you stay laser focused on your one most important request. 

Mistake 3: Donors don’t hear from you the rest of the year

It’s the week before Giving Tuesday, and my inbox is filled with messages from organizations that I haven’t heard from since LAST Giving Tuesday. 

If your donors are only hearing from you during year-end fundraising season, it’s time to rethink your strategy. 

One of the biggest barriers to regular donor communication is that we tend to overcomplicate things - we look at very large organizations with significant resources, and believe that we need elaborate marketing strategies and the latest platforms and apps…

But honestly, the most powerful emails are often simple, heartfelt messages written from one person to another. 

In fact, when it comes to fundraising, heavily templated marketing style emails don’t perform as well as a simple personalized email (credit to digital leader Whitney Brown, Digital Director at Public Outreach Fundraising, who shared this great lesson during the 2022 AFP Congress).

Don’t you love it when simple outperforms complex? This is a good general rule to apply to you fundraising - but perhaps that’s best left for another post! 

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