This year's GivingTuesday will be the most important one in history. For one thing, 2020 has been a tumultuous year for the world. It's left us all in need of nonprofits and their essential work now, more than ever. But at the same time, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic has meant that many nonprofits are struggling to fundraise. They need support to continue accomplishing their missions.

If you're part of a nonprofit or NGO, these final months of the year will be crucial. To help you make the most of this year's Giving Tuesday (and the last months of 2020 in general), we rounded up advice from the experts.

What is GivingTuesday?

GivingTuesday is a global, one-day campaign that encourages people to support nonprofits and NGOs through donations. Kathleen Murphy, Director of Digital Strategy at GivingTuesday.org, explains, "It's one of the only days out of the year where donors are looking for nonprofits to support (rather than the other way around)."

👉When did Giving Tuesday start? Back in 2012, and it's continued every year since then. (Due to the pandemic, there was also an additional campaign in May—Giving Tuesday Now—to help raise emergency COVID-19 relief funds.)

👉When is Giving Tuesday? GivingTuesday always falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving by design, with the idea being that consumers will feel compelled to give back to their communities after holiday shopping on Black Friday. This year, it falls on December 1.

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👉Why should your nonprofit participate in GivingTuesday? Kathleen explains: "GivingTuesday is the biggest day of the year by the number of donors on many giving platforms." She shared a statistic from Classy to make her point, which is that nonprofits secure an average of six times as many new donors on GivingTuesday compared to any other day of the year. This year, those numbers could be even higher. "In times of crisis," Kathleen says, "the one thing that brings the entire world together is generosity. We're looking forward to the creative ways the world will celebrate on December first."

Take advantage of the publicity and momentum of this global movement to garner more support for your nonprofit organization. Here are ten ways to make the most of this year's Giving Tuesday.

"It's one of the only days out of the year where donors are looking for nonprofits to support (rather than the other way around)." - Kathleen Murphy

#1. Plan and prepare your campaign early.

Start priming your audience to contribute on GivingTuesday now. Introduce the concept of this day early, and start building a compelling case for why people should give to your cause. That way, when Giving Tuesday arrives, they'll already know what it is and how their gift will help. As Andrea Holthouser, Personal Fundraising Coach at Network for Good, puts it, "the steps you take to engage your supporters over the next several weeks will have a much greater impact on your results than anything you announce on GivingTuesday itself."

And even before you start advertising about this day, you'll need time to gather content and organize your Giving Tuesday campaign. Sarah Sebastian, Director of Brand Communications at Qgiv, advises: "Prepare your communications and assets well in advance. Have a plan! It takes time to collect powerful stories that show your impact, and to create messaging that can be used across multiple channels." Reach out to volunteers, and those who have benefited from your services in the past. See what kind of stories they have to tell, and figure out how best to share those with your audience.

#2. Acknowledge the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made nonprofit fundraising even more urgent. "The need for the support nonprofits provide to vulnerable populations is greater than ever due to the pandemic," affirms Cheryl, Contee, CEO of Do Big Things and bestselling author. "Whether you look at unemployment, eviction, hunger, access to healthcare and education, you name it—too many people are facing hard times." For nonprofits who work with causes like these, she recommends "talking explicitly [to prospective donors] about how your work is helping people during the pandemic, or how it's been impacted by the pandemic. Why do you need more resources now? What will you do with those resources to help those affected by the challenges of coronavirus on society?"

The pandemic is still on the forefront of most everyone's minds. Many of those who have the means to help aren't sure how to do so. Make a clear case for why they should entrust their gift to you to make a difference. "Be clear about your asks, and let folks know how you'll spend the funds they provide," adds Cheryl. And finally, empower your current supporters to bring more like them into the fold. "People don't trust organizations or institutions as much right now—they trust other people," Cheryl says. "So do whatever you can to catalyze ambassadors online who can recruit others to support your cause too."

Lindsay J.K. Nichols, VP of Marketing and Communications at America's Charities, echoes the urgency of GivingTuesday 2020, and shares her advice for nonprofits and NGOs. "Authenticity, transparency, and storytelling are always important aspects to fundraising, but given the dire situation many nonprofits are facing, they're more critical than ever," she says. "Use data, images, and stories to paint the picture of how COVID-19 affected your organization," Lindsay advises, "and to ask for what you need from donors to be able to meet your mission better." She also encourages nonprofits to check out these free Giving Tuesday resources to help them make the most of this year's campaign.

#3. Take advantage of video.

A Google survey showed that 57% of those who watched a nonprofit's video went on to make a donation. Why exactly is video marketing so effective for nonprofit causes? Here are a few reasons:

  • It's a more engaging method of storytelling. It's said that people retain 95% of a message when receiving it via video, compared to 10% via text.
  • Video content is becoming more popular on the web in general. It's predicted that by 2022, video will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. (That's 15x higher than in 2017!)
  • Showing the faces of volunteers and service recipients makes prospective donors feel more connected to a cause.

So no charity organization can afford to ignore the power of video content, especially leading up to Giving Tuesday 2020. Nathan Stelter, President of The Stelter Company, shares his tips for creating a powerful one. "Consider creating a video with a voice overlay, showing and describing how donor dollars make a difference. Avoid coming off too formal during your narration," he advises. "This is a moment to be real."

Here are a few more tips that can help you create nonprofit videos that get results:

Keep videos short, focused, and engaging ⏱ Online attention spans are extremely short—around eight seconds. That means it's crucial to grab viewer attention immediately, and jump right into telling the story of your organization and who it helps. Aim to keep your video under or around two minutes. You may see drop-off partway through with videos longer than that.

Show faces and outcomes 👩🏽 Numbers and stats are important, and behind-the-scenes work is interesting. But most of all, nonprofit supporters want to see faces. They need that human element to connect with and to move them to action. So (with consent), show the faces of those your organization helps. Draw a clear path from the money people donate to the positive outcomes you produce.

Include a single, direct CTA 📣 What action do you want viewers to take after watching this video: sign up to volunteer, make a donation, share the video itself? Include that at the end of it, and everywhere you post it (in the caption of your Facebook or Instagram post, or in the description of your YouTube video). Make sure any important links are easily accessible to viewers.

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#4. Fine-tune your emails.

According to Salsa Labs, email is responsible for about a third of nonprofits' online fundraising revenue. The weeks leading up to GivingTuesday are a time to pay special attention to your organization's email campaigns. Vanessa Chase Lockshin, President of The Storytelling Non-Profit, shares her advice:

  • Resend top performers 🏆"Resend your email to non-openers," she suggests. "You don't need to change anything about the email, especially if it performed well. You can literally resend the same email to subscribers who didn't open in order to kick it back up to the top of their inboxes and drive more donations."
  • Test different senders and Giving Tuesday subject lines 📧Vanessa recommends doing these tests ahead of time, preferably "in the weeks before Giving Tuesday, to see what works." She adds that "email subscribers are a little too used to seeing certain sender names in their inbox. Disrupting what they see with something new can improve open rates."
  • Test various ask amounts 💰"I recently tested a $1,250 ask in an email in a client's campaign," shares Vanessa. "While we all had a healthy dose of nerves about asking for that amount in an email, we had a great conversion rate, and it sparked more ideas for mid-level test asks that will ultimately increase fundraising revenue."
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The GivingTuesday organization itself posts shareable content to Facebook that encourages their existing supporters to spread the word about the campaign.

Erica Waasdorp, President of A Direct Solution, adds her top tip for improving your nonprofit's Giving Tuesday email templates and campaigns. "Test your process," she says, "and have someone else test it to make sure the email(s) and your thank-you messages are correct. You’ll learn a lot from this." It's another reason you should start your planning for Giving Tuesday early, so you have time to properly set up, test, and gather feedback on your campaigns.

#5. Make donating as easy as possible.

If there was ever a time to focus on eliminating all friction in the donation process, it's now. Murad Bushnaq, Founder and Creative Director of Morweb, points out: "With many countries still practicing social distancing, nonprofit organizations will have to focus more on online giving. Therefore, your donation form’s user experience needs to be engaging and streamlined for users to convert," he continues, "especially on mobile devices." Here are a few tips:

  • Do a website audit ✅"Make sure it reflects your organization's cause clearly," recommends Murad. You should also take care to make the option to donate clear and easy to find.
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The homepage of Habitat for Humanity's website is mostly monochrome, which makes the brightly colored donation links stand out.
  • Optimize your website for mobile 📱About half of web traffic now comes from mobile phones. If your website isn't optimized for people browsing on these devices, the user experience may be difficult and frustrating. As a result, your organization could be losing out on donations. That's why simplifying and streamlining your site for mobile is crucial, especially in preparation for GivingTuesday 2020.
  • Add donation links to all your social media 🔗In the weeks leading up to GivingTuesday, make sure you've got the link to donate on your Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram bio, YouTube channel, and anywhere else you're reaching constituents. If people have to search to find your donation page, they might give up and forego contributing altogether.

#6. Tell stories to show how donor money is used.

This tactic is applicable in blog posts, social media posts, emails, videos, or most any other format you may use. It'll help you appeal to prospective donors in two ways: through emotion and logic.

First, tell a story that will tap into their feelings of compassion and empathy. 💙 Show them the people, places, or animals that will benefit from their support, and explain the struggles these groups face without that support. Make the reader or viewer truly care about those you serve. Present a story that potential donors can relate to on a deeply human level.

Then, make sure provide details on how their donations will help bring a happy ending to the story you presented. 🧠Be as specific as possible. Will their dollars help buy food and supplies? Fund scholarships? Lobby for governmental protections? Give concrete information about where your donor funds go, so people can trust that your organization will use their hard-earned money wisely.

For more tips on skillful brand storytelling, check out this recent episode of our marketing podcast. 👇

#7. Optimize your Facebook presence.

Facebook is widely considered to be the most important social media network for most charities (which means it should be a key focus area for your GivingTuesday campaign). There are a few main reasons for this:

  • Facebook has a huge user base 👥 Over 2.7 billion monthly active users, in fact. So make sure your page is optimized. Include a donation link in your About section. Post videos and blog articles that tell your story and draw your audience in. Encourage users to repost and share that content to spread the word. Change your page's header image to one that incorporates the GivingTuesday logos. You can also check out this Giving Tuesday resource library from Classy for free Giving Tuesday graphics, templates, infographics, videos, and other materials. Classy's Senior Partner Marketing Manager Laura Flatley explains that these resources can "help your nonprofit reach more supporters, raise more money, and move the needle on your cause."
  • Facebook collects no fees on donations 💳 That means your organization keeps 100% of the money that donors gift it via Facebook. Learn more about setting up Facebook Giving Tuesday tools.
  • Facebook chatbots are an easy, effective way to engage donors 🤖Nonprofits that want to get more out of their Facebook presence use Facebook Messenger chatbots. They're easy to build (no code or previous experience required), and easy for your audience to access through your page, your website, or even through Facebook ads. They can share information or answer FAQs about your cause, link to donation pages, and notify users about new campaigns or important asks. Check out how major charities like Direct Relief are benefiting from chatbots.
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An example of how an animal rescue nonprofit can use a chatbot for storytelling and fundraising.

#8. Think of GivingTuesday as more than just one day.

When retailers prepare for Black Friday, they don't just advertise it on the day-of. They start planning up to several months ahead, and promote their sales or deals in the weeks before Black Friday itself. They know it's important to keep reminding shoppers of their offers and encourage them to participate. Your charity should follow a similar strategy for Giving Tuesday. Tatiana Morand, Content & SEO Manager at Wild Apricot, explains: "To succeed at GivingTuesday, it can't just be a one-time thing. Focus on making it part of an integrated campaign and incorporating it into your overall messaging, rather than just posting on social media once and calling it a day."

Promote the campaign in the weeks leading up to December 1. It'll help donors prepare and budget for their gifts, and remind them to actually donate. It also gives them time to help spread the word to friends and family. And once December 1 has come and gone, keep the momentum going. Take a look at which Giving Tuesday ideas and tactics worked best for this campaign, and put your focus on those to help you bring in more donations in the final month of the year.

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#9. Get existing donors to help spread the word.

You've got a powerful, free fundraising resource at your disposal: your existing supporters and donors. This Giving Tuesday, leverage them to help you spread the word. Julia Campbell, speaker, author, and nonprofit consultant, points out that "the mistake that nonprofits tend to make on GivingTuesday is trying to reach out to brand-new donors without first cultivating their existing audience." She continues: "It's incredibly hard to stand out to complete strangers on GivingTuesday. Work on stewarding and inspiring the people who already know, like, and trust you."

Here are a few Giving Tuesday campaign ideas that involve enlisting your current audience to help spread the word:

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The GivingTuesday organization itself posts shareable content to Facebook that encourages their existing supporters to spread the word about the campaign.

#10. Sincerely thank everyone who donates.

Have a plan in place for how you'll thank the donors who decided to support your cause! Especially during this economic downturn, each donation is precious and impactful. Sarah Sebastian of Qgiv expands on this point, saying "Show them how their money was used to create change. Thank them in email, thank them on social media, call them...THANK THEM!" Besides showing your genuine appreciation for their support, a thank-you can serve as the beginning of a long-term donor relationship. Sarah adds: "You should also have a plan for how you'll nurture relationships with new donors, including offering ways to get involved with your organization beyond Giving Tuesday."

Prepare your nonprofit organization for GivingTuesday 2020

As Justin Wheeler, Co-Founder and CEO of Funraise, puts it: "Giving Tuesday is making huge strides in normalizing giving—donating isn't just for people with deep pockets!" Use this campaign as an opportunity to expand your donor base, and to raise money to fund your charity's important mission.

If you don't yet have a Messenger chatbot to help raise dollars and awareness for your charity, get started today! Chatfuel is proud to offer our Bots for Good initiative, a 1:1 matching program that will give your charity double the number of chatbot users, free. Anyone can build a bot without coding knowledge or prior experience—but if you'd like us to build your bot for you, talk to sales about our Quickstart package. It's just $299 for a custom-built bot and three months of Premium service!

One of the functions of Chatfuel is to help organizations like your succeed. If you're not sure where to start, contact us! 💙

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