I’m not a particular fan of Giving Tuesday.
In my experience as a staffer, I found it a time-suck. Worse, if yours is an organization without a strong community profile (a “best-kept secret”), it’s time spent building recognition for Giving Tuesday, not for your organization.
And of course, it doesn’t always raise much money, either. (For an alternate position, read this.)
Tom Belford, writing at The Agitator*, On Giving Tuesday, Thank Don’t Ask, shared an idea from Claire Axelrad.
Claire suggested hijacking Giving Tuesday and making it Giving Thanks Tuesday. Instead of a day to give to our organizations, use the hype to thank the donors who make our organizations possible.
Of course, I love that idea.
In a way, Giving Tuesday feels like announcing a birthday isn’t enough, so you’ve decided you’ll now be recognizing your half-birthday as well. And people should send gifts.
Not very motivating, right?
Giving Tuesday can definitely pick up on some social media buzz. There’s a pull for some donors to join in with the crowd.
But any motivation toward giving isn’t necessarily connected to your organization’s mission in their minds. It has to travel through the Giving Tuesday hoopla, first.
Then a comment at the site took the idea to the next level.
Meredith, writing from the UK, described her organization’s practice.
…we didn’t have a lack of things to ask supporters for in December, but we did have a challenge around helping staff connect with supporters. So we’ve used the momentum of the noise around #GivingTuesdsy to have those conversations about the importance of giving internally. We get the entire charity (senior management, services staff, finance, IT, and, of course, fundraising, although fundraisers made up only half of our participants on the day) to take time to write hand-written thank you letters to supporters.
This is genius, for two reasons:
1. Thanking donors matters.
Doing it right before the busy year-end reminds them how important their support is. And assures them the organization knows it, too.
2. A culture of philanthropy.
We talk about this idea often.
But an important part of the concept is that fundraising isn’t something that happens in a back office, while the rest of the organization goes about the important business of doing mission.
Fundraising is mission. And everyone should be involved. Bringing the entire staff together to thank donors underlines that idea.
Think about getting a note from one of the program staff, explaining just how impactful your gift was to her work?
That will be remembered long after the tax receipt is filed away.
Sounds squishy to you?
Not so much, really. Here’s what Meredith found:
We can even demonstrate the impact: we couldn’t thank 100% of our supporters in a single day so we kept a control group separate and tracked results; six months on, there was an uplift in value from the group of donors who received these personal thank yous, an effect that increased after after a year.
Not squishy (though I have nothing against squishy – it can be that, too). But smart.
Happy donors, involved staff, relationships started… of course, that leads to better retention!
So I’m with Tom, Claire, and Meredith.
Think about Giving Thanks Tuesday this year, instead.
*The Agitator is a subscription site, though you’ll get a few free views. But don’t stop there. With contributions from Tom Belford and Roger Craver – two giants of the field – joining is well worth the money. Tell your boss it’s cheaper than a conference. Or tell yourself it’s money well-spent for personal development.
Richard Turner says
In a similar vein I heard of a charity who suggested to their donors and corporate partners to use Giving Tuesday not to give but to share with others that they currently give to them. A great way to get donors to do something and feel good about their own giving and give them a reason to help spread your story. Perhaps you could encourage people to say why they support your cause too?
Mary Cahalane says
Nice idea – an excuse for supporters to pat themselves on the back and help the organization at the same time! Love it.