The end of the year usually presents itself as a great opportunity for nonprofits.
Not only are many nonprofit staff and volunteers taking stock of the year’s campaigns and preparing to launch the next year’s big goals. But many folks are looking to give to charity because of the holidays (and, let’s be honest, for tax purposes), which means November and December are prime fundraising months.
It’s with this last point that I want to talk about the importance of Giving Tuesday and a recent fundraiser that one of my clients successfully pulled off to capitalize on that end-of-the-year giving spirit.
First of all, let’s remind everyone what Giving Tuesday is all about. Giving Tuesday is a project that was started in 2012 by an organization in New York that had a goal of connecting a diverse group of people, communities and organization from around the world for the common purpose of celebrating the holidays and encouraging giving.
Giving Tuesday usually takes place on the Tuesday right after Thanksgiving and is meant to piggyback off the unofficial consumer holidays, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It’s a genius idea, and Giving Tuesday has now become the day where every forward-thinking nonprofit kicks off the charitable season.
#GivingTuesday is also a widely used hashtag, which means, year after year, online giving has become the standard for charitable donations.
If you’re still not convinced that Giving Tuesday should be incorporated into your organization’s fundraising goals, then consider these numbers:
- Donors gave nearly $250 million on Giving Tuesday in 2017
- Facebook is a huge driver of donations. Last year, the company partnered with the Gates Foundation to match up to $2 million in donations through the social media platform.
- This year, Facebook and Paypal are offering $7 million in matching donations on Giving Tuesday
- Last year in the United States, individuals, corporations and private foundations gave a combined $410 billion to charity, $286 billion of which was from individuals
- In 2017, California received the most donations, followed by New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Virginia
As you can tell, nonprofits that participate in Giving Tuesday tend to raise more money during the end of the year.
Which brings me to my client that used an end-of-the-year fundraising campaign to bring in thousands of dollars in donations in a short amount of time.
I was approached by the Courageous Conversation Global Foundation to design its website for its big launch in 2017. The foundation was started as the nonprofit arm of the Pacific Educational Group, a consulting firm that provides racial equity training for higher education institutions, corporations, nonprofits and law enforcement agencies around the world. Pacific Educational Group was also celebrating its 25th year, so the launch of the foundation was a big deal.
In addition to building a website to coincide with the launch, the foundation was looking for a simple way to get supporters to make donations at the big gala where they were planning to announce the organization to the world.
Now, the easy (or should I say lazy) thing to do would have been to simply ask people to take out their checkbooks, write a check to the foundation, pass a basket around the room and then call it a night.
But I’m so glad the board of the foundation had more ingenuity than that and made the correct decision to use the website as the main vehicle to collect donations…and, boy, did it pay off for the foundation.
Within about 24 hours of launching the organization at its big gala, the Courageous Conversation Global Foundation raised nearly $15,000 just from the website.
Here’s how I helped them make this happen, and here’s what your organization can do as well.
The main thing I did was create a standalone donation page on the website. This is actually one of the single most important pages that a nonprofit should have on its website.
Why? People who want to support your cause will naturally find their way to your website. By giving your donation page its own space, you’re able to guide your donors and show them exactly how to give to your organization within seconds of landing on your website.
Here were the key elements that drove the fundraising effort’s success:
- A call to action that briefly described the purpose of the fundraising campaign and a pitch to give a donation TODAY (not next week or next month)
- Pre-selected donation amounts with a suggested amount already filled in (don’t forget to add a “custom amount” option for those who might want to give more)
- A recurring donation option
- An option to pay by credit card or send a check (most people will opt for paying by credit card)
- A secure form so that donors trust that their personal information won’t be compromised
- The donation page was mobile responsive, meaning people can take out their phones and donate on the spot
- A “Donate” link visible on multiple entry points throughout the website
- It also doesn’t hurt to display a photo that matches the message on the donation page
I know what you might be thinking: All the organization had to do was direct people to its website, and just like that, $15,000?
Not quite. But the website became a very powerful vehicle that the foundation used to leverage an amazing event.
It should come as no surprise that the main reason why the fundraiser worked so well was because the organization behind the event is amazing.
Pacific Educational Group has a 25-year track record of making an impressive, transformational impact on people’s lives. So there were a number of people who were eager to show up at the event for the launch of the new foundation.
Pacific Educational Group also throws amazing events, and they didn’t disappoint with the gala. They provided thousands of dollars in company funds to make the launch a success and they were able to get a number of celebrities, including actress Angela Bassett and poet Nikki Giovanni, to attend.
So if you’re wondering if it’s necessary to include celebrities in your fundraising campaigns, I’m not going to say yes. But as Glenn Singleton, board president of the foundation, said: “While celebrities are not essential, the right celebrities, like Angela Bassett and Nikki Giovanni, can certainly add a great deal to the event’s appeal.”
The bottom line is this: The right campaign that is full of purpose and planned properly, combined with a powerful way to capture online donations on your website, equals success for any nonprofit.
“Our website helped us get the word out about the event as well as it served as a place for contributors to go to donate,” Singleton said. “I felt relieved and inspired by the instant donations which the website uniquely enabled us to garner.”
There is no secret. All you need are the proper tools and execution.