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charitable giving by religion

The #GivingTuesday Countdown

#GivingTuesday – the global philanthropic movement celebrating and encouraging a national day of charitable giving – is one week away.  How are you celebrating it this year?  

Ideally, your planning is in the final “finishing touches” stage with your communications ready to roll and your online/mobile giving site ready to accept donations.  For some, however, we know that despite the best intentions your #GivingTuesday plans may still be in the works.  

With that in mind, we developed this quick-and-easy last minute #GivingTuesday Checklist to help you capitalize on this big day of giving and pull together a successful #GivingTuesday campaign:

  • Determine Your Campaign Theme and Goal

The first step is to figure out what you are raising money for and how much you aim to raise.  To make things easy, if you already have a holiday or end-of-year campaign in place, simply tie #GivingTuesday to that campaign.  It’s a great way to bolster the campaign and increase support.

If not, create a specific campaign goal that will resonate with your supporters.  Donors want to know what their donations support so be specific – i.e. raising $50,000 for a scholarship fund or $10,000 for sprucing up a local family shelter.  You may even want to consider taking a menu approach:  allowing donors to direct funds to multiple ongoing projects you  support.  

  • Craft Your Communications.

Compelling communications are the backbone of your #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign.  Donors are more likely to give if they know how their dollars help.  Be sure to craft stories that demonstrate the impact donations have on your campaign.  Use strong visuals to help bring your story to life and be sure to make it easy to give by including a link to your online giving page in every communication.  Your communications need to inspire and breakthrough the clutter of the day.  

Time won’t allow for a full donation page overhaul, but at the very least make sure your donation page references your #GivingTuesday effort and the donation options mirror your campaign.  And, be sure to add the highly recognizable #GivingTuesday logo to your page.   

  • Get Social

#GivingTuesday expertly leverages social media to encourage giving.  Be sure you create social content that is not only compelling but easily sharable.  Invite your supporters to share your story – and link!  

You can still make the most of #GivingTuesday but you have to act fast!  Happy fundraising.    

Giving Tuesday: Celebrating the Spirit of Holiday Giving

By Bridget Mayer

GT

The holiday season is a whirl of activity. For many, it “officially” kicks off with the shopping, deal-focused frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.

Five years ago, two enterprising organizations – New York City’s 92nd Street Y community and cultural center and the United Nations Foundation – joined forces to create an event to kick off the charitable holiday giving season and Giving Tuesday was born. Since then, Giving Tuesday has been celebrating philanthropy and charitable giving. Last year, this widely supported and nationally recognized day of giving raised an estimated $117 million, according to Reuters.

Giving Tuesday 2016 will take place on Tuesday, November 29th. Now’s the time to plan how your nonprofit can be part of the action on this national day of giving. While many of you may already be in the thick of appeals or about to launch other holiday giving campaigns, Giving Tuesday is a great day to bolster (or even kick-off) your campaign and help increase support. Leverage the built-in awareness of this popular day to your advantage!

At GiveCentral we support and share the sentiment behind Giving Tuesday so we’ve developed a handy guide to help your organization capitalize on the excitement and rally your donors.

1. Create Your Campaign

For every fundraising campaign, It’s crucial to know your audience and their key values to tailor your pitch. Create a theme for your campaign (what are you raising money for) that will resonate with donors. Most importantly, ensure you have personal anecdotes and stories to bring your campaign to life. Be specific about how donated funds will be used and build a case as to why it’s important. Tap into select donors to help tell your story and reinforce why the campaign is important. Donors are more likely to give if they can relate to where their dollars are going and “buy in” to the need. Once themes and storyline proof points are set, use the buzz around Giving Tuesday to not only celebrate philanthropy but also encourage support of your cause. The goal of your messaging should always be to effectively get your donor base to believe in your mission.

2. Layer Your Communications

With the campaign creative and messaging set, it’s time to spread the word! Whether it’s a note in your newsletter, email, flyer, text message or social posts and videos, be sure to maximize all of your communication platforms to share details about your campaign. Educate your audience on what Giving Tuesday is and how they can get involved to make Giving Tuesday a successful kick-off for your organization’s charitable holiday giving campaign.

GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Don’t forget to say thank you! A personalized thank you for a donation is an effective way to turn a one-time donor into a lifelong supporter. GiveCentral makes it easy for organizations by sending automatically customized thank you notes after each donation.

3. Engage Your Resources

It takes a village! Don’t go at your campaign alone. Create a committee of individuals who are energized and excited to make your fundraising campaign a success for your organization. Leverage these individuals to be key communicators of your campaign through word of mouth, social media and more!

Be sure to tap into Giving Tuesday’s extensive resource center. They offer a plethora of free resources – tool kits, logos, ideas and more – to make your campaign sizzle.

GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Take advantage of the smartphone phenomenon and directly connect to your donors through GiveCentral’s Text-To-Connect platform. Texts are sent to your custom cell phone number to collect information and donations to take your Giving Tuesday campaign to the next level.

4. Get Social

#GivingTuesday expertly leverages social media as a catalyst to build momentum for the movement and drive charitable giving across the world. Be part of the conversation and share your story. Create tailored Facebook posts, Tweets and Instagram images to remind your followers of #GivingTuesday and your mission while gaining new followers.

GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Create a personalized hashtag for your Giving Tuesday campaign for donors to easily tag, track and share!

With these tips, your organization will be well on its way to helping members celebrate Giving Tuesday and get into the holiday giving spirit!  Click here for a downloadable GivingTuesday planning guide featuring these helpful tips.  

Alumni are ready to become your advocates and supporters. Reach out!

Keeping Grads Connected to Your Mission

Cheers to the Class of 2016!

It’s graduation season. Mortarboard caps are being flung high into the air as graduates embark on a new adventure and the next phase of their life journey. For schools, these newly minted alumni are an important part of your organization and future funders of your mission. Regardless if they are graduating from 8th grade or college, you need to build on your obvious connection and their affinity for their alma mater. Take thoughtful – and creative – actions to develop a long-term relationship – really a friendship – that can pay dividends in the future. Just like the investment parents make in a child’s education, you too need to make investments in your alumni relations efforts. Here are a few pointers to remember to help you build an engaged and committed alumni community. These tips, while geared toward alumni, can certainly be applied no matter what donor group you are courting:

Students first, alumni forever.

Transform your graduates into advocates – and supporters – of your school by engaging them while they are students. It’s the positive memories they build as students that they – and you – draw on when asking them to support your mission. As they transition to graduates, make sure you capture their contact information so you can continuing reinforcing and deepening your relationship. (more…)

It's National Volunteer Week! How are you celebrating your volunteers?

Three Cheers For Volunteers

Mark National Volunteer Week with an Appreciation Activity

National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, offers a chance for you to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them and value the work they do for your organization.It’s no surprise, volunteers are the backbone of nonprofit organizations. Volunteers help with fundraising, lend their expertise to your organization and help spread the word about your mission. They fuel your programs and services and help you fulfill your mission.  In short, you wouldn’t be where you are today without them.National Volunteer Week is the perfect time for you to praise your volunteers and show your gratitude.  Here are some simple ideas to help you get your ideas flowing:  

Send a note of gratitude.  

A simple thank you note goes a long way.  Show your appreciation by sending volunteers a handwritten, personal note.  In today’s world of texts and emails, a handwritten note will stand out.   

Host a thank you coffee or cocktail reception.  

Invite volunteers to come together to raise a glass in celebration of their hard work.  But don’t stop there, you may want to consider hosting the gatherings on a quarterly basis.  Consider giving each volunteer in attendance a small token of your appreciation.  

Showcase volunteers.  

Spotlight volunteers and the incredible work they do by including features on them in upcoming newsletters, bulletins and/or on your website.  Show  volunteers some love and let them know how valuable they are to your organization.  Small gestures like these can go a long way to fortifying these important relationships. Want more inspiration?  Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – is the host of National Volunteer Week.  Visit their website for free National Volunteer Week resources.

this clover holds the luck of the Irish!

May the Luck of the Irish Be With You!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s been said that everyone is Irish on March 17th. That saying must not be blarney because it’s etched on a beam in the famous Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. In honor of my namesake’s feast day, here are a few Irish-themed tips for your fundraising success:

Don’t rely on LUCK to lead your fundraising strategy.

To be successful, you need to have a strategic marketing and communications plan in place designed to inspire giving all while making it easy for your donors to do so. Without one, you won’t see much green!  See how GiveCentral was able to help one customer increase donations and grow their database.  

Avoid the BLARNEY.

When communicating with your donors (and you should be communicating often) ensure your communiques are conversational in tone and are sincere and honest. Make it short and sweet and don’t use jargon. Most importantly appeal to your donors emotions!

Wit and Wisdom.

Famous Irish playwright, novelist and poet Oscar Wilde once said: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” As an organization, showcase and communicate your unique mission and stay true to who you are: your authentic self. GiveCentral can help you find the pot of gold at the end of your fundraising rainbow. Let us show you how! Sláinte!

groundhog

What Does Your Groundhog Predict?

I for one am thrilled that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning… bring on spring! This annual ritual, where a groundhog predicts the arrival of spring, offers some interesting lessons:

  • Been there, done that. Do you sometimes feel like you’re stuck in Groundhog Day like Bill Murray was in the famous movie of the same title? If you are looking to change an outcome to a problem, you have to do something different or try something new. Small changes can lead to big dividends.
  • Avoid the communications rut. No doubt that communicating with your donor base is crucial.  But, just as important is ensuring your messages don’t get stuck in a rut and come off rote or insincere. When communicating with your donors be authentic and ensure you personalize them as much as possible!
  • Facts, not folklore.  While the tradition of this famous Phil predicting the weather is cute, it isn’t based on fact. Far from it! Punxsutawney Phil has been wrong nearly 40% of the time according to records.  Building a strategic plan grounded in fact is a must.  

In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing findings from a new, benchmark national study we conducted to uncover donor giving habits and preferences. The discoveries from the GiveCentral Insights on American Giving Report are sure to positively impact your strategic plan.

What other Groundhog Day lessons have you learned? We’d love to hear what you do to keep your forecast positive. Be sure to be on the lookout for the release of our donor insights report next week!

a hand with the index finger extended upward and a string tied around it

Make a Resolution for Your Best Fundraising Year Ever

The new year is upon us, and we’re all ready for a fresh start. How’s your plan for 2016? Now’s the time to make a resolution to have your best fundraising year ever.We’ve prepared a quick, 10-step checklist to help you make sure you’ve got the pieces in place for a fantastic year of giving in 2016.

1. Our donate button is easy to find on our website.

a screen shot of St. Margaret Mary's home page featuring Christmas messaging and a donation button
In December, St. Margaret Mary Church was ready for Christmas giving, with a DONATE NOW button right near the top of the page and a slider highlighting their Christmas events.

2. We have included recurring giving options on most, if not all, of our online giving events.

screen shot of a giving page with Annual giving selected
The Church of Holy Apostles lets you set up your Christmas gift for multiple years at once. You can do this for any holiday or annual event!

3. Our email messages have catchy subject lines that invite donors to open them.

screen shot of a Google inbox with messages from St. Josaphat Church
St. Josaphat keeps things interesting by varying email subject lines for special events while maintaining their regular newsletter.

4. Our outreach is focused on our donors, not us.

an older couple in warm clothes, turned around with one arm over the back of a bench
These are the folks you want to impress. Not your board, not your boss… focus on the DONORS.

5. We include a compelling image in each message.

screen shot of the Office for Peace and Justice home page with an image of a refugee child
The Office for Peace and Justice illustrates their need with one strong image to indicate what your donation will support.

6. Our emails tell a story, but are short enough to be reasonably read on a smartphone.

closeup of a man's hand holding a mobile phone
People are busy! Make a resolution to make your emails easy to read on the go.

7. We are utilizing our social media channels daily to bolster our message of giving.

a screen shot of St. John Berchmans Twitter account
Interspersing charitable and mission-based messages, St. John Berchmans led into the Christmas season with something for everyone.

8. We have planned a day-before giving message with a sense of urgency and a clear call to action.

a calendar with Christmas Day circled in pencil
Your target is that one special event on a particular day, but your plan starts now.

9. We have a plan in place to thank our donors, and to follow up with them to share the results of their gifts.

a fountain pen next to the words "Thank you" written in script
Thank you notes were important at Christmas, certainly, but make a resolution to follow up again throughout the new year.

10. We have started a fundraising plan for 2016!

hands writing in a date-planner book
A resolution of better planning will ensure an even better fiscal year. Start with an outline and build from there.
a woman in a white sweater holds a red knit heart

Your Guide to Year-End Fundraising

For any nonprofit, year-end fundraising is like the Super Bowl. Your team has put in tons of hard work throughout the season. You’re ready! You’ve practiced! You’re pumped! And your generous donors are waiting for tickets to go on sale for the Big Game.And what a game it is! Over 30% of annual giving is made in the month of December, with 12% happening in the last three days of the year. That’s HUGE! And donors’ procrastination can work in your favor, because it means there’s still time for you to reach out and ask for those donations.They’re out there and ready to give… all you have to do is tell them how. And yes, you do need to tell them! There are thousands of nonprofits out there, and so many worthy causes. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make sure people know why your cause is most deserving of their charitable giving dollars.Let’s begin.

1. Have a Game Plan

Set a specific year-end fundraising goal, ideally based on both your short- and long-term needs. Decide in advance what success means to you, whether it’s a dollar amount or a number of additional donors. Share your plan with staff and volunteers early on to get everyone involved and spread out the work.To help build your plan, consider these questions:

  • What do we want to accomplish? Dollars are great and crucial to your mission, but what do you want to tell people you’ve done with their gifts? Imagine the results of your best-case scenario, and work backwards from there.
  • How do we want to reach out? Different people prefer to be contacted in different ways, and your resources are limited. Consider what the most effective communication channels will be to reach your ideal donors, and focus on those.
  • Who do we want to contact? Even skywriting only reaches a limited audience, and that’s probably not in your budget. Depending on your goal, your audience may vary; choose the folks most likely to respond to your year-end fundraising appeal and address your appeals to them.
  • What do we want them to do? Choose the one thing that you want donors to d0 right now. Do you want them to donate to a specific fund? Switch to recurring giving? Buy a particular fundraising item? Use that as the one clear call to action in each of your messages.

2. Send the Right Message

While numbers are great, you may want to save them for your annual report. Now is the time to share stories rather than statistics; people are more generous when they can relate to an individual’s story. Show potential donors what their gifts will support, and let previous donors know how their gifts have already helped. And while it’s your organization asking for donations, the message isn’t about you: tell supporters how great they are for wanting to help.

As you’re developing your story, balance that with keeping your message simple, short and sweet.

December’s busy for everyone! A single great picture can really help attract attention, and a nice big “donate” button makes it easy for donors to take the one, specific action you want.When you’re ready, don’t wait, start planting the seeds of generosity now! Updates on Facebook, Twitter, and on other social channels are immediately visible. Clean up your mailing lists, review your printed materials, write that newsletter… just because your donors procrastinate doesn’t mean you can wait until the last minute to say “me too.” Make sure you’re in donors’ thoughts when they’re ready to give; plan out a few scheduled email messages and emphasize urgency as the year’s end approaches.

3. Make Giving Easy

When donors want to give, where do they go? They look up your website! Regardless of whether they give online or off, potential supporters will likely check out your website beforehand. Are you putting your best face forward?You certainly should be keeping your home page up-to-date, of course. If your “current events” are from last summer, get in there and update things! Even if you need to do some digging to find out who can make changes to your website for you, it’s well worth the time to tidy things up for your new guests.

To encourage greater giving, make sure to feature fundraising prominently on the home page of your website.

People won’t give if they can’t find the right place easily. A nice, bright “DONATE” button near the top of your home page will ensure that everyone knows where to give, and you can link it straight to your main GiveCentral giving page or to a specific fund you’d like to highlight this season.

4. Say Thank You

…a lot.A brief “thanks” with a donation receipt is nice, but that alone won’t build the relationship you’re hoping to develop that will keep donors coming back.

That first “thank you” is not simply a courtesy, it’s your first opportunity to reinforce the great decision they’ve just made.

Following up with donors on the results of their giving is another great step on the path toward what will hopefully become a lifelong partnership. When you can show the concrete results of their gifts, donors are reassured that they’ve made a good choice and encouraged to give again.Thank yous don’t just have to be emails or letters! You can recognize donors on your website or ask their opinions about your next initiative. Invite them to give in other ways – by volunteering, by attending an event, or by telling friends about your incredible achievements. Word-of-mouth is great for giving!

So What’s Next?

It ain’t over ’til it’s… well, it’s never over. Thankfully, your mission is well worth it!

Fundraising for your organization is an ongoing task even after the year-end fundraising blitz is over, but you can make it more manageable by beginning a plan for 2016.

Break things up into more reasonable chunks if a full-year calendar is too much to tackle at once! Take a look at what worked (and what didn’t) in this round of giving, and adjust your future plans  and activities based on what you’ve learned.How can your plan become better aligned with your organization’s mission? What targets should get more attention in your next fundraising push? Where could your time, energy and budget be better spent? How will you continue to grow your list, and how can you best keep the donors you already have?What will you be doing in 2016?  

a red envelope tied with a candy-striped ribbon, surrounded by red and white snowflakes, a candy-cane ornament, and a red alarm clock

Holiday Email Adds a Big Boost to Year-Round Growth

The GiveCentral team’s goal is to help all of our client organizations to raise more, and we see a tremendous opportunity to improve donor retention rates over traditional payment methods like cash and checks. Earlier this year, we engaged hundreds of parishes in an exercise to test the power of communication to bring back donors who have stopped giving. Using the free email communication portal available to every GiveCentral client, we were able to demonstrate the potential of sending a single message before an important holiday.In the days before Easter Sunday 2015, we helped participating parishes send a message to their online donors who had not yet signed up to make an Easter donation to their parish. Each parish used GiveCentral’s free communication portal and email templates. The simple messages encouraged recipients to find their church on GiveCentral and make a donation.comparison graph: increase in fundraising between organizations who sent email vs. those who did notParticipating parishes saw a sustained increase in giving, growing by more than 9 percent on average over the following six months. That is nearly five times faster than the parishes that did not send an email.

  • 750 new donors responded to the call to give online.
  • Participating parishes saw a 323 percent increase in online Easter donations.
  • A single parish signed up 57 new donors with one email.

Communicating regularly is one of the most effective ways to raise more for your organization, and never is that more true than ahead of major holidays like Christmas and Easter. All you have to do is ask.

Download a case study of this great success story here.

Giving Tuesday: December 1, 2015

Giving Tuesday: Giving Thanks and Giving Back

Here at GiveCentral, we are really looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday this year. It brings us all together in so many different ways with its simple focus on being thankful. Now, thanks to Giving Tuesday, which happens on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving week, there is a great focal point for expressing our thanks, and for kicking off the holiday giving season.

This global day of giving, created by 92nd Street YMCA in 2012, is in its fourth year. The growing movement brings together communities to work for a common mission to help give back, and each year, more and more organizations are joining the effort. Honestly, after the spending frenzy of Black Friday and the holiday weekend, Giving Tuesday is a bit of a needed reset for each of us!

At GiveCentral, we share the sentiment and the spirit behind Giving Tuesday, and we are going to help you and your organization take advantage of the excitement around it to rally your donors. While many of you have appeals and holiday giving programs running, Giving Tuesday can be a fun, one-off opportunity to get folks excited, and to increase giving.

If you’re wondering how to best highlight this global mission, here are a few of our tips to get you started.

  1. Key Messaging

It’s crucial to know your audience and their key values to tailor your Giving Tuesday messaging. Position Giving Tuesday as a universal day to celebrate and encourage giving, while using personal anecdotes that will resonate with your audience. The goal of your messaging should always be to effectively get your donor base to believe in your mission.


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Don’t be afraid to share what the donated funds will be used for. Sharing that the funds will be used towards a new playground or to fix the roof can drastically help increase funds. Donors are more likely to give when they can relate to what their funds are going toward.


  1. Communicate

Whether it’s a note in your bulletin, a handout, text message or email, be sure to maximize all of your communication platforms to share your Giving Tuesday mission. Educate your audience on what Giving Tuesday is and how they can get involved to make Giving Tuesday a success for your organization.


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Don’t forget to say thank you! A personalized thank you for a donation is an effective way to turn a one-time donor into a lifelong supporter. GiveCentral makes it easy for organizations by sending automatically customized thank you notes after each donation.


  1. Engage Your Resources

It takes a village! Don’t go at your campaign alone. Create a committee of individuals who are energized and excited to make Giving Tuesday a success for your organization. Leverage these individuals to be key communicators of your campaign through word of mouth, social media and more!


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Take advantage of the smartphone phenomenon and directly connect to your donors through GiveCentral’s Text-To-Connect platform. Texts are sent to your custom cell phone number to collect information and donations to take your Giving Tuesday campaign to the next level.


  1. Get Social

Giving Tuesday is catching momentum across the globe on social media. Jump in the conversation and share your story. Create tailored Facebook posts and Tweets to remind your followers of Giving Tuesday and your mission while gaining new followers.


GiveCentral Best Practice Tip: Create a personalized hashtag for your Giving Tuesday campaign for donors to easily tag, track and share!


 

With these tips, your organization will be well on its way to helping members celebrate Giving Tuesday and get into the holiday giving spirit!