Plan your communications for “Giving Tuesday”

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

By Mark G. Auerbach

Nonprofits, take note. This year’s Giving Tuesday happens on Tuesday, December 1. For details on Giving Tuesday, a global initiative to help raise monies for all non-profits regardless of focus visit

Whether you’re a non-profit or a small business planning a holiday appeal, plan your campaign carefully, and don’t wait until after Thanksgiving to plan and execute. Charities will tell you that the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve is a time when many people are either thankful to those who provide goods and services for the greater good and/or thinking about the year-end opportunities for tax deductions.

I’ve written about Giving Tuesday before. This article should be a refresher, but, of course, this year will be different. Many individuals and non-profits and small businesses are suffering due to the pandemic. And, the American public is exhausted from the barrage of slings and arrows being hurled over social media, on TV and in the streets. Many individuals who want to give just won’t be able to, and their limited budgets will be overstressed because of their own means and those of organizations who really need help.

Your message will be extremely important. If times have been tough, focus on the good elements–the customer base that supported you, the staff that hung on, the vendors who were forgiving when a late payment arrived. A good example is The Springfield Symphony Orchestra in Massachusetts, forced to cancel their season in March, with no 2020-21 season announced. They needed money to cover their expenses, but they focused on their musicians, many of whom are freelancers, and set up a Musicians’ Relief Fund, so that monies raised went to support out-of-work musicians. Their largesse puts them in good standing for any Giving Tuesday campaign they might develop.

Don’t beg! It’s a major turn-off. If you say that you need a contribution by December 31 or you’ll be forced to close, people might reconsider where they put their limited funds. No one supports a loser. Don’t preach! Most people know that an organization needs help. Pushing them towards guilt doesn’t fill up the coffers. Your donors are looking for an opportunity to partner, not to write a check and not feel like it’s going to help.

Scheduling your message is everything. Plan an email blast to go out before Thanksgiving, which explains what you’re raising funds for, ways to participate, and a reminder, that if you can’t give on December 1, you can give anytime, and with the tax year ending on December 31, you’ll accept donations at the donor’s convenience. Start your eblast campaign itself on Thanksgiving, and limit your social media posts to once or twice daily up until Giving Tuesday itself. Swap out the graphics and vary the copy, so each post appears new. If you feel the need to go more than 1-2 messages per day, and you have 3 or 4 you can run in rotation, that’s okay on the day before and during Giving Tuesday.

Say thanks

Be sure to thank your customers and/or donors as they contribute. An immediate computer receipt for tax purposes is essential, but how about a handwritten or at least hand-addressed thank you note, which really shows people you care. Update your contributors as to your progress with Giving Tuesday, but not too often. Their in-boxes and social media feeds are being bombarded..

There are plenty of graphics available from The Giving Tuesday organizers, but customize your own. Showcase your best product or service. Put your team in the spotlight. Use ear-catching music and eye-catching graphics to make your case. But, don’t overdo it. If your video is too flashy or slick, people may assume you don’t need the money.

Supplement your social media presence with a press release to local papers, saying that you’re part of the Giving Tuesday initiative. Your donor letter should indicate that in addition to online gifts, you’ll gladly accept a check by mail or phone. (Make it easy for people to give.) The entire time it takes to point and click a “give now” button to the time you enter the required information to complete the gift should be user-friendly, quick, and painless.

Good luck to all of you.

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. Mark also produces ArtsBeat in print in The Westfield News, on radio for Pioneer Valley Radio and on TV and radio on WCPC15 and 89.5fm/WSKB. His new series, On The Mark, premiered in October.

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