Giving Tuesday — a chance for charities to give back

Over the last 6 years, Giving Tuesday has grown from a grass-roots movement in the US to become a global phenomenon, tapping into the anti-capitalist zeitgeist, a reaction to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Here in the UK, we’ve embraced Giving Tuesday with open arms and last year 1 in 10 people did good stuff for charity that day; a world record was set for the most money raised online for charity in 24 hours and it was the UK’s number 1 twitter trend.

There’s clearly a real opportunity for both charities and businesses alike to tap into this surge of goodwill around the day, but we know that at what must be a busy time for charities in the throes of Christmas appeal planning it might seem a bit daunting to plan for another campaign in the calendar. So, what if we approached it slightly differently?

Rather than think about how we can get partners, volunteers and fundraisers to give to charity again, how about turning this around to what can you can do for your supporters, on this day which, after all, has its roots in giving thanks.

Ask not what can your supporters give you, but what can you give your supporters?

As a starter for ten, here are some handy suggestions:

  1. Give thanks — Probably the simplest but most effective thing you could do with Giving Tuesday is to take the time to thank your donors. How often do we really do that, without trying to also slip in an ask in at the same time? Marie Curie have been running a donor thankyou campaign for Giving Tuesday for a couple of years, with great outcomes. By asking staff to give up an hour of their time to ring or write a note to thank donors, not only have they improved staff engagement with fundraising but importantly lowered attrition and increased income from that cohort of donors. Corporate partners are pleased too that they get the recognition, especially as the campaign is shared digitally, and Marie Curie have calculated that every 15 minutes of thanking equates to an extra hour of nursing care, pretty impactful stuff! 

  2. Give rewards — You could take the thanks to the next level and reward those who have made significant contributions to your success. Thomson Reuters use Giving Tuesday to give their employees the opportunity to log and share what charitable activities they’ve done and this year will be announcing the winner of their World Food day employee engagement campaign. Having some sort of reward or award scheme to celebrate the success of your supporters, volunteers and partners could be a great way for charities to mark the day too. It doesn’t necessarily have to be donors, maybe you have staff members or partner agencies that have smashed their targets for you whom you want to recognise and thank?

  3. Give a platform — what better way to engage donors than to hand over ownership to them for a change. Giving Tuesday is a great way to experiment with social channels and giving platforms and let your fundraisers be your voice. Toybox encouraged supporters to share their photos of being Secret Santas on social media, and celebrities and supporters shared photos of their shoes for Lepras #givingshoesday. This year CAF are using vloggers to promote different ways to get involved with Giving Tuesday, from baking to vintage clothes shopping, capitalizing on the power of the peer.

  4. Give an incentive — there’s nothing quite like matched funding to incentivise giving (and engage corporate partners at the same time!), and it’s no coincidence that the Big Give launch has in the past coincided with Giving Tuesday. I love this example from Farm Africa from 2015: 

    farm africa

    Two weeks before the big day, Farm Africa announced the news that all online donations to its #GivingTuesday campaign would be generously matched by their corporate supporters ABP Food Group and Moy Park until midnight on 1 December, meaning gifts would have twice the impact. 

    The campaign raised £6,000 of online gifts on #GivingTuesday which were matched by the two companies. In addition, Farm Africa held a collection at Bond St tube station on #GivingTuesday, which raised more than £1,100, helping to take the total amount raised for the Christmas Appeal to a huge £140,000.

  5. Give an experience — there’s such a trend at the moment for people enjoying experiences (I think 50% of my present giving last year comprised of them) that charities could apply to their supporter offering, not least kicking off on Giving Tuesday. We’ve seen some great innovations in the last year, such as the World Vision story shop in Westfield. Why not think about an experience or event you could run for Giving Tuesday? For example there’s a small architecture charity called Azuko who last year joined forces with innovation lab Impact Hub King’s Cross to celebrate failure and growth in the world of social impact design. Five speakers from the sector took the stage to present their stories and share learning and the evening also featured an exhibition of their sanitation project in Jogen Babu Maath slum, with photography from award-winning Bangladeshi photojournalist Turjoy Chowdhury. The event sold out, it raised over £1,000 and they’ve seen a spike in their social media following, and volunteer signup rates.

  6. Give information — this is a great moment in time to supply your donors with key information on what impact their donations are helping achieve, especially at a time when there’s mistrust in the sector and donors rightly demanding greater transparency. This is a nice update page from DEC on Nepal two years on, consolidating all the aid agencies’ updates in one place:

  7. Give entertainment — there are some lovely examples of where organisations have created sticky and shareable content for Giving Tuesday. If you go viral then not only are you raising awareness, but potentially sourcing new fundraising leads. Send a Cow created a special #GivingTuesday video which capitalised on the national awareness of the John Lewis Christmas television advert (Man on the Moon). They affectionately recreated the advert to promote Send a Cow to new audiences and existing supporters and called it Cow on the Moon.

    The Send a Cow team contacted their partners and celebrity supporters, asking them to share the video on social media. They also used the clip to reach out to new celebrities who fitted with the organisation’s brand and who they hope to work with in the future. The campaign was a great success, with the video achieving a potential reach on 665,000, new celebrities signed up to support and some good media coverage.

  8. Give education — as well as using this as an opportunity to educate your donors more about what you do, you can use it to raise awareness amongst new donors and potentially the donors of the future. Charities get asked all the time to speak at schools about their work, Giving Tuesday could be the day for your charity to do this and inspire the next generation of donors. For example, a teacher in Indiana used Giving Tuesday to educate students at two local middle schools about digital citizenship and applying their social media skills for good. They used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to raise money and awareness for Simiyu House, an organization that provides education to orphans in Kenya.

  9. Give assets — you could also think about what assets you have as an organisation to offer others in your community. Maybe you have office space to donate, or skills to share. You could start a work experience or internship program to kickstart someone’s career in the sector. And your staff are a powerful resource, whether it’s giving them the opportunity to volunteer on one of your own programs or fundraise, or to do good for other causes, think about what time and even funding you could give them to encourage this.

    And last but not least:

  10.  Give meaning — if you can’t get round to any of the above, then if nothing else you can use this opportunity to tell your beneficiary stories.

    You could even go as far as Great Ormond Street Hospital and share a day in the life of your organisation:

Through powerful and emotional storytelling you’ll build belief, so that donors will give, not just on Giving Tuesday, but to your Christmas campaign and throughout the year.

In doing all this you’ll be creating rather than extracting value from your supporters. Which, ultimately, as many of our examples show, will enhance engagement

“At a time of year when most corporate and charity messaging is ask, ask, ask the day offers a great opportunity to create something fun and engaging and use a softer approach.” Send a Cow team.

For more case studies of how people have got on board with Giving Tuesday go to:

Good luck!