On December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together to celebrate another #GivingTuesday. By now you’re probably familiar with the global day dedicated to giving back, but if you’re new to the concept or want to learn more,  check out its website at givingtuesday.org.

#GivingTuesday has shown tremendous growth since its inception in 2012. Last year, overall donations increased 63 percent over the previous year for a total of $46 million (according to the Case Foundation), and most analysts predict much higher numbers this year.

We’ve also seen many Abila clients raise some very impressive sums on this annual day of giving. We thought, who better to provide tips for success than those who’ve actually been in the trenches? So, we asked some of our clients who had successful #GivingTuesday campaigns last year to share winning ideas and strategies with you, here. Of course, I’ve added my own two cents, as well.

Engage in New and Different Ways

As we’ve often said about the end-of-year cycle, or any large giving period for that matter, it can be very difficult to rise above the noise when every nonprofit in the world is simultaneously asking for dollars. So, you need to make sure you’re finding new and unique ways to “be heard above the roar,” stand out, and actually engage with your supporters. We suggest getting creative with your engagement strategies, but sometimes it’s just a matter of connecting in ways that have always proven effective.

“We sent out invites to four different “viewing” parties around town that we were hosting. We then made phone calls.  Lots of phone calls.”

Melinda Biggs, Development Director, Hope Alliance

“First we took the idea of #GivingTuesday and personalized it to our university brand. This point is important to stress. Alumni, students, and employees are proud to stand behind the morals for what Otterbein represents. Therefore, if people affiliated with the university can readily identify Otterbein-centric ideals, they will be much more likely to rally behind that goal.”

Matthew D’Oyly, Director of Annual Giving and Constituent Communication, Otterbein University

Get Visual – The #UnSelfie

The #UnSelfie, or the “selfless selfie,” is one way to help your #GivingTuesday campaign be more visual, and maybe even go viral. It’s a simple concept – take a selfie with a caption (or write your message on a card displayed in the photo) explaining why you’re giving this year. You then post the selfie on social media with the hashtags  #UnSelfie and #GivingTuesday.  You can learn more by downloading the UnSelfie Toolkit from the #GivingTuesday site.

One of our clients took this idea to a whole new level by creating a sense of community around this typically individual act.

“Last year we jumped on the “Unselfie” bandwagon and asked people to take selfies and post them on social media using the #Unselfie hashtag.  A few folks tweeted on Twitter and posted on Facebook themselves, but most were less than tech-savvy, so we actually ended up doing the tweeting and posting for them and creating an “Unselfie” gallery on our website where we displayed them all.  I actually enjoyed seeing all of them together in one place, and we used some of the pics in our annual report this year, as well.”

 Shari Nilsson, Programs and Information Specialist, Campaign for Equal Justice

Tell Stories with a Goal

Stories are THE best way to make your case, show the impact you’re making in the community, and get your supporters to take action. If you want to take that a step further and really encourage your supporters to take action, then you’ll also want to set a goal that is real and relevant to your supporters. We discuss goals in detail in the EOY Kick-Start webinar (get access to the recorded webinar and other resources on our EOY Fundraising Hub).

For the Humane Society of North Texas, focusing on the basics did the trick.

“I would suggest the following to fellow organizations:

  1. Provide an engaging story that helps the donor identify with your organization.
  2. Provide a fundraising goal. In my experience, having clear financial goals always helps to encourage giving, even if you do not use a thermometer on your donation page.”

 Whitney Hanson, Director of Development and Communications, Humane Society of North Texas

 Set Stretch Goals with Urgency

While it’s important to set goals, there are a number of things you can do to set better goals; goals that not only encourage your supporters, but also get you and your staff motivated. The tips below highlight a great use of urgency, using this one day of giving to provide folks with a resounding reason to donate NOW!  In addition, it’s a great example of setting a “stretch goal,” one that’s a good bit higher than what you think you’re able to raise.

“First, we set one goal and kept that goal very simple – raise $70,000. That goal was not a random number picked, it is a dollar-for-hour match of Otterbein students giving to community service the year before. Otterbein students recorded 70,000 hours of community service, therefore we wanted to recognize the commitment of our student body by raising $70,000. By reflecting the goal back to our students and what they do for the community, an important trait of Otterbein, we made it easy for constituents to support.

“The goal of $70,000 was also very simple, which we believed helped. It was easy to share and understand for all who saw it. It was not an over complicated goal that donors had to digest slowly. It was a quick point that urged people to give right then … which leads me to the next point. #GivingTuesday helped with the urgency of the message. Give on this day, because now is the time. Not tomorrow, next week or on December 31. Now. Giving on a particular day encourages people to take action at that moment, which is key.

“All that said, we did not reach our goal of $70,000 on #GivingTuesday. We accepted this fact, knowing it was ambitious, but we did not let this dampen our determination. We just simply evolved. We turned #GivingTuesday into #GivingDecember and kept the goal. We reached the goal pretty quickly, and kept pushing past it.”

Matthew D’Oyly, Director of Annual Giving and Constituent Communication, Otterbein University