Updated: Avoid Giving Tuesday

“Avoid Giving Tuesday Like the Plague!”

That headline didn’t create much of a stir when we first wrote the article in 2013.

During a recent interview with the Chronicle of Philanthropy, I was asked if we still stand by those words.

First off, can we agree that headline was pretty harsh?

At the time, Giving Tuesday was new and unproven.

Now, that we have 10 years of data to inform our opinions, we’re taking another look at the now established trend of Giving Tuesday fundraising.

The verdict?

Giving Tuesday puts a spotlight on philanthropy, which can’t be bad. But after looking at the data, there is no “Giving Tuesday Wave” that your organization can ride to a better year.

The fact is, unless

  • Your organization already has its fundraising dialed-in
  • You have plenty of marketing capacity, and
  • Your biggest concern is how to squeeze a couple extra % out of this quarter

…then I wouldn’t invest much on Giving Tuesday.

Why not go big on Giving Tuesday?

If you’re like most organizations, then your resources are limited. You need to be efficient by investing in fundraising projects with outsized returns.

If Giving Tuesday offered a natural boost to fundraising, then even organizations that don’t participate would be receiving additional gifts. The effect would be self-evident.

Instead, the big numbers reported by Giving Tuesday each year are the result of increased fundraising efforts, not growth in donors who prefer to give on that day.

And momentum is slowing. Giving Tuesday’s growth curve isn’t like TikTok’s. It has been leveling off for the past 7 years. Growth is slowing despite significant adoption by the nonprofit community and is now less than 10%.

I do think Giving Tuesday is a good thing for philanthropy. It’s a day to celebrate and talk about giving.

But the hope that it would tap into significant untouched fundraising potential has not materialized.

However, you don’t have to swear it off completely. You might have other factors to consider (e.g. “our board wants to see us particpating”).

If this is you…

Here are a few things you can do if you want to participate:

  • Post on social media using the hashtag
  • Send out an email blast
  • Put a banner on your website
  • Add a giving link to your email signature.

Doing any of those things might be better than doing nothing for you. But they don’t require much effort or expense. You can also use Giving Tuesday as an opportunity to reflect on what philanthropy means to you and your organization. What role does it play in fulfilling your mission? How do you want to engage your community around giving?

What opportunities do present a “giving wave” with a payoff that far exceeds the work?

The tried and true year-end giving campaign.

Donors are far more likely to make their biggest gifts of the year in the final weeks and days before December 31st. Your organization should have a plan for how you‘re going to solicit, receive and steward those gifts. If you don‘t have a plan, or if your plan needs some dusting off, then there‘s no time like the present.