Small Business Saturday.
It seems that every year, the Thanksgiving weekend retail hype grows, with stores opening earlier than ever, and more and more people lining up to buy flat-screen TVs even before the pumpkin pie hits the table.
But one of the fastest-growing trends in a cluster of days dedicated to spending has nothing to do with purchasing products, and everything to do with philanthropy: #GivingTuesday.
#GivingTuesday falls on November 29th, 2016.
It’s a day for nonprofits and charities — along with individuals, small businesses and corporations — to take a break from the hustle of the holiday retail season and celebrate the spirit of giving. And it’s a great day for nonprofit and charitable organizations to raise revenue and awareness about their important work.
According to GivingTuesday.org:
- Online giving in 2014 was up 63 percent from 2013’s event, and more than $45 million was raised in just 24 hours.
- Since its founding in 2012, the movement has engaged more than 30,000 partner organizations across the world.
If your nonprofit hasn’t already taken part in #GivingTuesday, you should consider 2015 a great year to start.
In this post, I’ll give you five tips to join this fast-growing movement, so that your small nonprofit or charity can plan ahead to participate in this international day of giving.
1. Set a goal
Determine what your organization needs out of #GivingTuesday.
Do you want to raise revenue, grow your membership, or complete a specific project, such as a coat drive or a building improvement? Focus on one call to action that you will send out to your audience.
Get creative! GivingTuesday.org has some great ideas for organizations and individuals to get involved.
It doesn’t just have to be a fundraiser or a major event — depending on your cause, you could do a clean-up, a volunteer sign-up or membership drive or collect a specific kind of donation. If your nonprofit relies on memberships for revenue, consider #GivingTuesday as the start date for a promotional discount on membership fees for 2016.
2. Identify potential partners
An international event such as #GivingTuesday is a great opportunity to develop partnerships between businesses and nonprofits. Leverage connections within your community to find a partner who can help with your #GivingTuesday efforts and spread the word about your cause to their own audience.
Many corporations and even medium-sized offices participate in community outreach projects during the holidays and throughout the year. If your city or town has a Chamber of Commerce or a municipal business development office, you may be able to use those resources as ways to find community partners. Consider also partnering with a local school or college if your #GivingTuesday program is an event, such as a food drive or a specific project where you could use a lot of hands.
3. Develop your marketing strategy
Whether you realize it or not, any time you work to get the word out about your nonprofit, whether it’s through email, social media, traditional advertising, brochures, or anything else, you’re a marketer. Once you know your #GivingTuesday goal, you can develop your marketing strategy. The best place to start is with email.
Give people plenty of time to know what your #GivingTuesday event is by sending advance emails and posting about it on your social media profiles.
If you’re using an email marketing service, like Constant Contact, you will be able to track open rates, and clicks in real time.
Email marketing services also allow you to manage and segment your contacts into different categories. If you have segmented your contacts and identified your donors, send a separate email to those who have supported you. Thank them for their support and ask if they will consider your nonprofit as part of their holiday giving this year.
And finally, schedule your campaigns and social posts in advance to save time and stay organized.
4. Create your campaign
Create an email focused on that one call to action you want to inspire on #GivingTuesday. Let people know about your #GivingTuesday project in advance, so they can plan to participate, whether that’s by donating or volunteering. And always keep your call to action clear.
Constant Contact customers sent more than 330 million emails last #GivingTuesday, making it one of our busiest sending days of 2014.
Think carefully about how you can make your message stand out during the holiday giving season. Every email you send out should provide a clear and concise message that can easily be read on any device. You should also make sure to add your organization’s branding to every email you send out so that potential donors will easily recognize that it’s coming from you.
And finally, invest in your email subject line. Take a look at your email reports to identify emails that received higher than average open rates in the past. Is there anything unique about the subject lines used for these campaigns? Try to replicate your success by using similar subject lines in your #GivingTuesday emails.
Gorilla Doctors, a nonprofit that provides medical care to endangered mountain gorillas, sent a compelling #GivingTuesday email, asking for life-saving donations with a thoughtful letter and a prominent “Donate” button.
5. Get Social
Of course, a movement with a hashtag in its title is going to rely heavily on social media promotion! Last year, people tweeted about #GivingTuesday nearly 700,000 times. People shared “unselfies” of inspirational images on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.
Let your supporters know you’re participating by prominently displaying the hashtag in your email and social campaigns. Social media gives you a perfect opportunity for you to creatively raise awareness for your organization on #GivingTuesday.
The Baltimore Humane Society asked its supporters to donate, and then promote the shelter by taking a selfie with their pet and posting it on social media with the hashtags #GivingTuesday #BmoreHumane and #MarylandGivesMore. By doing so, the Baltimore Humane Society’s donors became advocates for the cause.
Get in the #GivingTuesday Spirit
Regardless of whether your #GivingTuesday plan is small or large, you can set yourself up for success by planning in advance, identifying your goal and strategy, and reaching out to your supporters with enough time to let them know your plan. Leverage potential partnerships to expand your reach.
You can be a marketer this #GivingTuesday by communicating your call to action clearly in your emails and on social media. Remember to focus your message and whether you’re asking for donations, volunteers, members or extra sets of hands — make it easy for your supporters to give back this holiday season.
If you’re using Constant Contact for your email marketing, we make it easy to create emails with our special holiday-themed templates.
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