November 18, 2020 | Tech Nonprofits, Blog

Giving Tuesday, Made Easy: Tips and Tactics for Nonprofits

You’ve heard it a million times – this year has been like no other. Stepping up to meet the challenges of 2020, nonprofits have been indispensable, serving as the social safety net that our systems fail to provide. And as the year comes to a close, these organizations have a prime opportunity to share their stories and call on their community to support their critical work. Yep, we’re talking about Giving Tuesday. 

Nonprofit leaders, Giving Tuesday can help you grow awareness about your work and raise real money, but it’s also the noisiest day of giving all year. Not sure where to start? Fear not – we’ve got you. Pulling straight from The Tech Nonprofit Playbook, we’ll share key insights on how to translate everyday strategies and tactics to make the biggest day of giving meaningful for your organization. 

From fundraising to marketing, you’ll find you can deploy these tactics easily and efficiently to pull off a successful Giving Tuesday campaign.

What Platform? Let User Research Guide You

User research: it’s what helps you understand your users and, in the case of Giving Tuesday, your donors. Research your core donor audience to determine where to host your Giving Tuesday campaign. Where are they spending time online? Email? Twitter? Instagram? Use these insights to guide where you host your campaign, and how you plan to promote it (more on marketing below). 

User research can be as simple as asking a few past donors what’s most likely to move them to action on Giving Tuesday. Or, reaching out to friends to learn where they last donated, and what tipped them over the edge to do so.

Your user research might tell you that your website’s donation page is compelling and seamless. And you might learn that your donors are motivated to support causes their friends care about. Leverage these insights to design a giving campaign where past supporters mobilize their friends in support of your organization. Ask them to send a personal message to 5-10 friends sharing what your organization does, why they care about your work, and a call to action to join your cause by giving via your donation page. 

Finally, let’s talk crowdfunding platforms, a popular choice for Giving Tuesday. Perhaps you asked a few friends about how and where they donate, and they mentioned sites like GoFundMe. Consider hosting your Giving Tuesday campaign on a crowdfunding platform – which many people are familiar with – to create excitement and urgency around your fundraising efforts. Done right, a beautiful crowdfunding page can be your ticket to Giving Tuesday success.

Tell The Story 

The magic ingredient for every Giving Tuesday campaign is storytelling. Stories are the backbone of fundraising – they’re what captures the attention and hearts of potential donors and moves a reader to action.  

Here are our quick-hit tactics for running a storytelling-centered campaign: 

  • Name the campaign something compelling and memorable. Use verbs – they can help clue potential donors into the goal of your campaign. 

  • Don’t only focus on the problem your organization is seeking to solve. Make sure you tie in your solution – and how supporters can help you achieve that solution – early on! Humans are generally moved by hope and potential for change, not sadness.

  • Tell relevant stories. Your work is more important than ever. Practice nonprofit judo, or capitalize on this advantageous position you hold as a nonprofit, by tying stories to the current moment. How are you playing a role in COVID-19, racial justice, or the recent election? As you craft your stories, make sure you convey why your audience should care about your work.

  • Humanize your campaign by telling the stories of real people whose lives you’ve impacted. Include their names, and share images (with their permission, of course). Make sure your images are eye-catching, colorful, and of people, not logos or words. 

Make the Ask 

Individual giving is a powerful tool – especially during the holiday season. But none of this giving will happen unless you make the ask to donate. Whether you’re making the ask of your closest supporters or the general public, invite your audience to be part of your broader vision of change. Phrase the ask like you’re inviting each person to join you in partnership. Because you are – you’re asking a potential donor to jump on board your impact journey.

Give your audience extra motivation to donate by setting a fundraising goal and/or deadline. Make this goal attainable, but also bold and exciting. Tie it to impact. What will meeting your goal allow you to achieve? For example, tech nonprofit Ample Labs set a goal of $3,000 to fund 30,000 meals in 30 days in Toronto and empower people experiencing homelessness to use Chalmers, its chatbot that connects users to resources near them.

Another approach is to highlight how far $2, $5, $10 or another small donation amount to your organization goes. Take CareerVillage.org. A $2 donation to this tech nonprofit connects one more underserved youth with free life-changing career advice. Most people in your audience will be able to shell out $2 – and will be even more likely to if they know the impact of their donation. (Want to learn more about tying donations to a unit of impact? Check out this blog post.)

Your corporate partners can also support your Giving Tuesday campaign in impactful ways. See if they’re interested in a matching program with their employees for Giving Tuesday, or if they’re willing to help promote your fundraiser. Many companies offer donation matching for their employees throughout the year, so don’t forget to remind potential supporters to donate through their friends who work at one of these companies. 

Spread the Word 

Remember nonprofit judo? One of the key strategic advantages you have as a nonprofit is that you’ve got a whole crowd of champions who believe in what you do – and who can also function as a built-in marketing tool. Call on your community of supporters, volunteers, and ecosystem partners – fellow organizations working in your sector or issue area – to help promote your campaign. Make it as easy as possible for them to share by creating a communications packet complete with the link to your fundraiser, sample language for newsletters and social media, and graphics.

As for your own social media strategy, drum up excitement about your fundraiser by posting frequently leading up to Giving Tuesday. In addition to using the #GivingTuesday hashtag in every post (this can help you gain visibility), make a hashtag specific to your campaign to help build recognition amongst your followers. For this year’s Giving Tuesday, Learning Equality is running a giving campaign called #KolibriGiving, named after its offline app that brings high-quality education to learners across the world. 

Similarly, share eye-catching graphics for Giving Tuesday to drive recognition and consistency across your campaign. Canva is a great tool for design (plus, see these Giving Tuesday templates  in Canva that you can plug your name and logo into).

Check out one of Learning Equality’s tweets for its #KolibriGiving campaign, which captures the audience’s attention with a vibrant graphic: 

Don’t forget to deploy everyday marketing tools like email marketing and public relations for Giving Tuesday. Email marketing pro tip: send a Giving Tuesday email to your audience, and then send it again to contacts who didn’t open the original (and, as always, make sure to use personalization tokens). As for getting press, if your organization is focused on a particular regional area, pitch local media about your work and Giving Tuesday fundraiser.

Once the donations start flowing in (and they will!), don’t forget to thank your donors in a timely manner – both individually, and by shouting them out more publicly in any Giving Tuesday wrap-up communications. 


Ready to run an awesome Giving Tuesday campaign? You’ve got everything you need to make this Giving Tuesday meaningful for you – and for the many donors who show up to support your important work. It’s a win-win! And for a deeper dive into these strategies and more, check out The Tech Nonprofit Playbook.