Make “Giving Tuesday” work for your non-profit (and annoy donors less)

donate-1703177_640By Mark G. Auerbach

The holiday season kicked off with a day of Thanksgiving, followed immediately by a series of days designed to create shopper frenzy: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and in its wake Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday kicked off the season of year-end charitable giving, partly because people are in a giving mood after Thanksgiving, and partly because people begin to realize that many contributions to non-profits are fully or partly tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Since its inaugural year in 2012, Giving Tuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

For smart non-profits, many of whom are small businesses, Giving Tuesday can enhance their development and marketing efforts, when done right. Giving Tuesday offers a toolkit at its website, and there are webinars and seminars to help organizations, particularly the social media novices, develop and launch a campaign.

The end result for many of us was a flood of donation requests in our email in-boxes and posted to our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Many were multiples of the same email or post. Since I work as a reporter, I tend to be on a lot of press lists for arts groups–many of whom I don’t know; I also “like” many arts groups Facebook pages, so I can cull information. So, Giving Tuesday was a non-stop litany of “gimme, gimme, gimme,” and it got repetitious and ultimately annoying.

Some marketing thoughts about planning a good Giving Tuesday campaign.

-Know your market. Before you hit send, weed out the press list, and the donors or members who made their contributions in October and November. Nothing makes me feel more under-appreciated or under-valued than by receiving an ask for support, when I gave a contribution six weeks ago, and the request says “We’re waiting for your gift,” especially when the group cashed the check or processed the credit card the day they received it.

-Create a compelling message and produce it professionally. That means good graphics, well-crafted language, quality video, and top-notch components. If your ask is less than professional, one may assume your business or organization is also less than professional. Consider what you are asking for. People may be compelled to give to a specific cause within your organization, i.e. a school’s music program, a senor center’s program to provide non-perishable food baskets. One non-profit theatre here encouraged small contributions, saying “every $5 gift adds up.” Supporting a broad mission that may be unclear may cause the potential donor to look elsewhere.

-Mix-it up. If you’re going to send two eblasts and 3 social media posts, make them different. Repetition makes people tune out.

-Remember the successful components of any appeal. I call them AIDA–yes, after the opera or the Elton John musical.

***Attract their attention.

***Interested them in your message

***Make them desire a partnership

***Make them take action.

-Say thank you. If Giving Tuesday participants had made half of their posts a “thank you” to people who had contributed, the voices of Giving Tuesday would have heard your appreciation.

Whether it’s Giving Tuesday or Business-As-Usual Wednesday, the thought you put behind your request for financial support can make a big difference between your potential audience’s enthusiasm or their fatigue when they hear your name.


Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.

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