#GivingTuesday got its start as something of an antidote to the hyper-commercialized holiday shopping blitz that takes over during the weekend after Thanksgiving from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. In 2012, a couple of savvy organizations launched a fundraising campaign during this wave of spending and called it #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back in the form of charitable donations.

Held on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday has since become a global movement that leverages social media, community engagement, creative storytelling and feel-good generosity. Many nonprofit and community benefit organizations also use #GivingTuesday to kick off their year-end appeal campaigns.

There are many ways to launch a #GivingTuesday campaign and we’re going to cover the basics you need to set one up. But along with that, a few words from the wise on what #GivingTuesday is good for, what it’s not and where you should save your energy.

What it’s good for and what it’s not.

#GivingTuesday is a prime opportunity to activate your audience and create a platform for your constituency to share your work. It can turn your social media followers into evangelists and maybe even convince them to become donors.

That said, while #GivingTuesday may be a part of your year-end appeal campaign, it shouldn’t be your whole year-end campaign. In other words, don’t rely on this one-day donation drive to bring in the bulk of your donations for the season and don’t use it to secure high-level gifts from your major donors who require a much more personal touch.

What does this mean in translation? Take care that you don’t sink a ton of your time into producing a #GivingTuesday campaign. Keep it simple, fun and look at it as just one facet of your overall year-end appeal.

How to participate.

At its heart, #GivingTuesday is about generosity and engagement, in whatever form best suits you and your work. You do not need to join a particular group or use a specific fundraising tool to participate in #GivingTuesday, though plenty of those exist. To keep it simple, you could launch your #GivingTuesday campaign straight from your social media handles with a link back to your website and donation portal, which is where we are going to start.

Get started with a landing page.

Begin by creating a specific landing page on your website just for your #GivingTuesday campaign. This one web page should have five things on it:

  1. A brief, enticing story about your work, why it’s important and where the money that you raise will go.
  2. A short explanation of what #GivingTuesday is.
  3. An embedded donation form (our friends at Donorbox have a wonderful one you can set up in fifteen minutes flat.)
  4. A few super easy-to-share resources such as social media graphics and sample tweets that anyone can grab and post to their own networks (more on those below.)
  5. A list of ways people can get involved with your work. This is for people who may not be able to donate money but still want to support your work in some way.

Line up your communications.

Before we get into your communications, understand first that #GivingTuesday can be a day of digital bombardment where some people may get dozens of emails, all asking for money all day long.

A word of advice here: Don’t try to cut through the noise with more noise.

Respect your access to people’s inboxes and don’t pepper them incessantly with emails. The last thing you want to do is annoy anyone enough to unsubscribe out of exasperation, especially right as you launch your year-end appeal campaign. As a rule, exhibit restraint with sending #GivingTuesday emails, especially if you plan to send more out in December as part of your broader year-end appeal. Social media, on the other hand, offers a little more leeway and you will want to dive into that mix with all you’ve got.

So what to line up? First, head over to GivingTuesday.org to take inspiration from their helpful collection of free resources, toolkits and case studies.

At a minimum, you’ll want to write up some sample tweets and posts that people can copy and paste into their social media along with some graphics that anyone can drag and drop into their posts. If you don’t have a graphic designer on hand to help you, canva.com is an easy (and free) way to create some graphics using their social media templates. Be sure to grab the official #GivingTuesday logo to drop in there as well.

Always keep in mind that whatever you create should be easy for people to share and always use the #GivingTuesday hashtag.

Once you have your communications all lined up, activate your team and your network to spread the word of your #GivingTuesday campaign as broadly as possible.

Be present on Tuesday.

The big day is here! And it is after the tryptophan-haze of Thursday, the scrambling for deals on Friday, the weekend of stress recovery and the yep-we’re-back-in-it of Monday.

Exhausted already? Everyone is. So forget multi-tasking and make Tuesday about one thing: being present. Online, of course.

It’s time to nestle up in front of your computer with your hot beverage of choice and order in lunch from your favorite restaurant. Spend the day loving up your audience, sharing real-time updates, retweeting, responding, livestreaming and being in gratitude for each little mention.

Chances are, you may be surprised at who steps up. People you never considered as donor prospects may give in the moment and it will most certainly be a donation that is meaningful to them. People whose lives have been positively impacted by your work now have a space to give back to you by sharing your #GivingTuesday campaign with their networks. Often they’ll add stories of their own that show how you’ve helped make their world a better place in some small way.

Gather all that goodness and share it with your nearest and dearest. Then send thank you notes immediately to your new donors and shower your team, board, volunteers and constituents with appreciation for all they’ve done. Everyone loves a good affirmation and #GivingTuesday tends to give just that. It’s the fuel that will get you through to December 31st.

If this has been helpful to you, please consider making a donation! Your contribution is deeply appreciated and supports all of the free programming at Open Rivers.

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