By Jamie McDonald.

The time is…NOW.

With year-end quickly approaching, and #GivingTuesday just 8 weeks away, it's almost the giving season.  It’s that critical time of year that fundraisers count on to be sure that they are well positioned – and well funded – to fulfill their missions for another year.
Now is the time to solidify your #GivingTuesday campaign focus.   Whether you are planning to raise money for a project or for general operations, creativity and communications can be the difference between a good and a great campaign.

Be creative on #GivingTuesday, but don’t forget the basics.

Great online fundraising is just great fundraising.  Even if you don’t want to fundraise for a specific project, like money to fund 20 instruments for a new school band, it’s still wise to ‘project-ize’ your campaign so it resonates with online supporters.

Goal One: “Make me feel like I matter.”

Every program and activity in a nonprofit can be reframed as a “project” that contributes to your mission, so donors can understand exactly why you need their support. 
Here are examples of how to frame your ask into inspiring projects, for different kinds of nonprofits.

  • Direct Service: If you serve 500 people a year with a $1 million budget, frame your annual fund around the $2000 it takes to serve each client.  You can also break it down into smaller chunks like funding 3 months of services for $500, 1 month for $166, etc. Then build a story around an inspiring client that exemplifies your work.
  • Advocacy: As an advocate for a cause, frame your annual fund ask around the number of people you reach each year with your message.  Eg., if you are an education advocacy organization trying to improve classroom performance, how many students lives will be changed by the policies you seek to enact?  Bring this to life with the story of a student whose attendance rate – and grades - increased because of your work.
  • Arts and Culture: If you are a cultural organization, like a museum or zoo, consider annual fund outreach around how many visitors you have in a year or how much it costs to care for the average animal each day. Build a story about a young artist who found her inspiration after seeing your collection. 
  • Place-Based: Urban, environmental, or organizations with a physical campus can structure annual fund asks around the square feet/miles of the area you focus on, or the number of people in your catchment area. For example: a local clean streams organization serves a series of streams that are five miles long. They need to raise just over $1 million each year.  Try creating a campaign around providing support for a yard of the stream.  $1,100,000/8800 yards = $125 per yard of the stream; $42 per foot, etc.

Why frame your outreach this way? Because at its core, your organization is about changing lives, and this needs to be made real and tangible. 

Goal Two: Build a great campaign (not a one-shot outreach) in six steps!

So with a strong, inspiring project idea now in the works, it’s time to build your campaign.  Every campaign is about moving people to action – getting them to give. It takes planning, a strong leader and capable execution to achieve your goals.

But how do you get your campaign going with everything else on your plate? 

Here are 6 simple steps to get you started.

#1: Set a big goal — Your goal will be the most visible anchor of your #GivingTuesday campaign, so make it a motivator. The goal should be big and meaningful enough to get people excited to work hard. If it’s too attainable, it will feel like just another day at the office, and it will be hard to motivate your team.
Your goal will likely include a fundraising target, but it can also include other important metrics:

  • Number of donors, number of new donors
  • Number of donors that set up a monthly gift (a great focus for #GivingTuesday!)
  • Number of volunteers that participate in an activity
  • Number of new social followers 

#2: Convene a passionate team — The most important person on your Giving Day team is the leader, the quarterback who leads the team from planning to execution to evaluation. Identify the passionate quarterback and then focus on engaging the key thought leaders - and loudest voices – among five key groups:

  • Staff
  • Board
  • Clients, participants, or alumni
  • Volunteers
  • Committed Donors and other potential Ambassadors 

Engaged individuals from each of these groups will form the heart of your #GivingTuesday team – and will largely determine your success.  Make them insiders.  Share your strategy and goals so they are as excited to be part of this as you are.
#3: Create a branded theme — In addition to your well-defined project, your #GivingTuesday campaign should stand out from your everyday marketing.  At a minimum, tie into #GivingTuesday’s branding and marketing tools. 
Or even better, if you have access to a graphic artist, or have a creative streak yourself, create your own branded identity to put on all of your campaign materials, posts, and schwag.  Use photoshop or a free tool like to incorporate your colors or photos into a GivingTuesday logo, all your own.  The example below from Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue is a great example of a campaign brand.

bad ass

#4: Create quality content and ‘drip’ it out — Spread the word and build momentum leading up to #GivingTuesday with stories and visuals tied to your campaign theme. Share them in a weekly “drip.”  Send cut-and-paste content to your ambassadors each week, on a consistent day. Include hashtags, Facebook posts and images, tweets, email copy, campaign logo, campaign-related photos, infographics, “Top 10 lists” and links to other engaging content.
#5: Make it fun — Make the process fun for your team and for donors by creating engaging and rewarding incentives to participate. The most powerful tool on #GivingTuesday is matching funds, but there are other great ways to raise the excitement level – and make donors feel like they are part of something bigger than their own gift. 
Special goals like challenges for new donors, most social posts, or friendly competitions between groups of supporters can add a level of engagement with the campaign.
#6 Get your online giving process in shape.   When you’ve created, coordinated and communicated your #GivingTuesday campaign, donors will be beating down your digital doors!  Be sure your online giving experience is easy and appealing.  You don’t want to lose a single donor that reaches your site because they…

  • Can’t find your donate button
  • Feel it takes too long to donate
  • Feel like you are asking for too much information
  • Don’t associate your giving page with the campaign

Your online giving page is the last hurdle between you and the dollars you need to fuel your mission, so make sure it's easy to get over.  

Get started now and it'll be a great #GivingTuesday!