By now you may have your turkey thawing and a list of the stores you’ll be visiting early on the morning of Black Friday. Some people have signed up for multiple email lists that will keep them informed of the hottest online sales as they become available for Cyber Monday too. How prepared are you and your school for Giving Tuesday?
Now in its 6th year, #GT (Giving Tuesday), has grown in popularity and is one of the few days of the year where donors are looking for organizations to support, rather than the other way around. The creators of the Giving Tuesday movement have assembled a full toolkit of resources to help schools successfully participate in this day of giving.
The #GT team recommends that schools start planning for a successful Giving Tuesday campaign in the summer, but it isn’t too late to participate in Giving Tuesday 2018 – even if you didn’t have time to build a strategic campaign plan this year.
In addition to the great tips in the toolkit, here are some steps you can take TODAY to participates in #GT 2018
1.TODAY: Identify two or three of your generous donors that typically support your school at the end of the calendar year. Reach out to them now to see if they would be willing to show their support a little earlier than usual to add some safe expectations to the outcome of your #GT campaign. Ask them if they would even be willing to offer a matching gift to double the value of gifts made by other #GT donors, or a segment of your #GT donors. (For instance, maybe you could get a commitment to match gifts made by any first-time donors who give to your #GT campaign.) – Next year you can analyze the giving pyramid and hand-select the people who are going to fund the top levels.
2. TODAY: Talk to your design team about overlaying Giving Tuesday language onto a campus photo, logo, mascot, or school shield image that is easily recognizable to your constituents. You’ll need this to start including in emails and social media posts ASAP. Having a single #GT image that appears in your communications about this giving day, and on this giving day will help your supporters spread the word on your behalf.
3. BEFORE THANKSGIVING: Get a drip campaign started. Unfortunately, you don’t have the time to parcel information out over several days, so you will need to work in hourly increments this year. Start by letting faculty, staff, coaches, and administrators know that you will be inviting them, alumni, current students, and their families to participate in Giving Tuesday 2018. If you’ve secured a promise for a matching gift from one of your generous donors, let them know. After you’ve alerted your fellow colleagues it’s time to share the word with your alumni, present students, and their families. (In future years, you will be able to segment these groups and roll the information out over several weeks – but your #GT 2018 communications may have to cast a wider net with your condensed communication calendar this year.)
4. BEFORE THANKSGIVING: Send personalized invitations to spread the word about your #GT campaign to a handful of your raving fans. Who hits “like” on all your social media posts? Who helps you populate alumni events when you visit their city? Which alumni/donors have your personal cell number so that you can text each other directly? THOSE are the people you have the time to recruit as ambassadors this year. Unfortunately, it isn’t the same way that you call for volunteers to help you promote your Alumni Weekend. You’re likely restricted to your inner-circle only with the clock running between now and Thanksgiving.
5. THROUGHOUT THE CAMPAIGN: Stay nimble! From setting your campaign goal to creating communications and updating your donors on the progress of the campaign – this will be an exercise in creativity and flexibility. If you haven’t had the time to get your audience ready for this initiative, it’s going to be a blind test on how they will respond. You will need to be ready with a positive outlook so that you can find and share a successful outcome with your constituents no matter what the results, even if you don’t break dollar and participation records. Be ready to highlight what does work well. If you gain more social followers through this campaign than you would on a usual day – share that news! If your Giving Tuesday campaign results in a higher-than-usual number of gifts from current students – share that news! If your #GT registers a higher number of monthly donors than you typically see in a day – share that success! Look at raw numbers and percentages – whatever it takes!
Jumping into a Giving Tuesday campaign a week before the big day won’t be easy, but it will allow you to dip your toes into the waters of the #GT movement. You’ll get a gage on the appetite that your donors have for this event without the efforts of your prompting over several weeks’ time. Give this national movement a try for 2018, so you can make an informed plan for your Giving Tuesday 2019 campaign!
Sources & Additional Reading:
 Toolkit, Givingtuesday.org