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The nonprofit guide to a successful Giving Tuesday


It's that time of year again for strategic planning and preparation for your end-of-year fundraising campaign. Nonprofits experience the highest percentage of giving in December, with the last three days of the year typically bringing in approximately 10% of an organization's annual revenue. Many nonprofits kick off their end-of-year campaign with Giving Tuesday—an international day of giving that has grown in prominence over the past decade. Millions around the world associate Giving Tuesday with philanthropy and giving back to uplift their communities.

Whether you're planning to participate in Giving Tuesday or not, your organization should be focusing on your fundraising goals: how will you meet and exceed these goals before the year ends?

Nonprofits experience a vast increase in to-do's, activities, and programming this time of year—but this doesn't mean you're on your own. Philanthropy is a team effort. Being part of the Catchafire community means that you can lean on our nonprofit experts to help you reach your goals. Our team of nonprofit advisors created the Giving Tuesday Hub with all of the resources, training, and volunteer projects needed to elevate your end-of-year fundraising efforts, allowing you to pick and choose the support that works best for you.

There are many different ways to contribute to a successful Giving Tuesday and get involved with philanthropy. Whatever approach you choose, be sure to make the most of your resources and be as effective as possible. In addition to our Giving Tuesday Hub, we've compiled a few tips to help you get started and contribute to a successful Giving Tuesday and beyond.

What is Giving Tuesday?

 SPMF_Case_Study_3-min Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement and celebration that celebrates philanthropy. In the U.S., Giving Tuesday is a partnership between 92Y and the United Nations Foundation. #GivingTuesday is a registered trademark of the 92Y.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the United States) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many individuals and organizations pledge to give back to their communities. It is a time to step away from consumerism and focus on philanthropy by giving back to charities, organizations, and individuals who are making a difference in our communities.

Giving Tuesday encourages people to get involved in philanthropy in a variety of ways: financial support, volunteering, donating goods, attending fundraisers, serving as social media ambassadors, and more. No donation is too small and any kind of support makes a significant impact on nonprofits and their communities.

Giving Tuesday is a great time to raise awareness and funds for your nonprofit, and kick off your end of year fundraising campaign.

How to run a successful Giving Tuesday campaign


1. Set goals

It is important to identify your goals for Giving Tuesday and your overall end-of-year fundraising campaign. What are your goals for your annual appeal campaign? What do you hope to achieve on Giving Tuesday, and through the end of the year? Once you have a clear idea of your objectives you can begin to develop a strategy to reach them.

Some possible goals for your annual appeal campaign include:

  • Raise a specific amount of money
  • Increase the number of donors
  • Attract new donors
  • Engage previous donors (lapsed donors and repeat donors)
  • Increase the number of monthly donors; building your recurring gift program
  • Generate more online donations
  • Strengthen relationships with donors
  • Create a more sustainable fundraising program; diversifying your revenue stream
  • Increase volunteerism
  • Raise brand awareness

Set benchmarks and measurable goals that you can evaluate and track throughout your campaign.

2. Develop a campaign strategy

Create a one page brief that scopes out your campaign's POP: Purpose, Outcomes, and Process. This will guide your campaign strategy and timeline for the duration of the campaign.

When building out your strategy, think through:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is the message you want to communicate?
  • What channels will you use to promote the campaign?
  • How will you measure the success of the campaign?
  • Will you set up a custom report or dashboard in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to review your campaign progress? Depending on your staff capacity and the technology available to you, an Excel spreadsheet works as well!
  • What is your thank-you strategy when you receive a gift?

Develop a project timeline that crafts your plan of action and covers the following:

  • Content development (all the copy and design assets you'll need for your online and offline marketing efforts)
  • Content distribution (mailings, online content calendar)
  • Donor stewardship
  • Donation tracking
  • Events (online or in-person, and all associated logistics)
  • Thank-you communications

3. Create a donor stewardship plan


How will you get donors involved in philanthropy and your mission?

Based on your campaign goals and strategy, develop a donor stewardship plan that can help you meet your goals; for example, increasing the number of donors, increasing the giving amount from donors, or building your recurring gift program. A donor stewardship plan is a guide for how you will cultivate and steward your donors. It should include how you will identify and qualify potential donors, how you will cultivate them, and how you will steward them over time. Your donor stewardship plan should also include how you will track your progress and report back to your donors.

Each donor stewardship plan is different, tailored to the needs and demographics of your organization.

First, identify and qualify potential donors. Who are your current donors? Who are your potential donors? What kind of people do you want donors to be? Identify your donor base and create a profile of the ideal donor.

Create a list, report, or database of all potential donors you would like to reach out to for support. There are a variety of ways you can rank and categorize donors based on your organization's definitions:

  • Prior giving history
  • Repeat donors: donates to annual appeal campaign every year
  • Lapsed donors: has previously donated, but has not donated in the last 2-3 years
  • Recurring donors: provides a donation every month
  • New donors/prospects: What is their current relationship to the organization? Do they have an affinity for philanthropy, and for your cause and mission?

Develop a customized strategy for donors based on the category they are in.

Think through how you will cultivate donor prospects. How will you reach new audiences? How will you get them interested in philanthropy, and in supporting your organization? Donor cultivation involves building a relationship with potential donors and getting them interested in your mission. You can do this by raising awareness of your mission, providing information about your programming and impact, and asking for support. As part of relationship building and developing a stronger connection to your donors, each donor type should have their own customized messaging.

4. Communications audit


Are all of your external platforms ready for Giving Tuesday and end-of-year fundraising? In order to spread the word and raise awareness about your campaign, make sure that all of your communications platforms are up to date. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to learn more about your organization, how to get involved, and ways to donate.

Your communications audit includes but is not limited to:

Social Media

  • Check your basic details: Is your organization's name, logo, website link, and donate button up to date? Are you verified as a business account (where possible)?
  • Test donating through social media to ensure that everything is accurately set up and working in advance of Giving Tuesday.
  • Is there a video you are preparing for launch day? Test playing the video on the uploaded platform of choice. Make your content accessible by adding subtitles.


  • Your website is oftentimes the first point of contact your audience will have with your organization. While your entire website should be as powerful as your mission, your donation page should be a top priority. Make sure it’s as easy to make a donation as possible by having one of our experts update it for you.
  • Provide suggested payment amounts and multiple payment options to give donors options and flexibility around their giving.
  • Review the contact information on your website to verify that it is up to date and easy for donors to contact you, whether it is by phone, email, mail, text, or other platforms of choice.
  • Test your donation page in advance of Giving Tuesday. Check your (Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) database to confirm that donations are being processed and reported correctly on the back end. In addition to physical thank you letters, set up an online confirmation email to thank donors immediately after they make a contribution.


  • Preview and test your Giving Tuesday and end of year fundraising emails on desktop and mobile devices. Review for both copy and functionality. Is the content clear, concise, and compelling? Are images showing correctly? Are all the links working? Are the sender and reply to emails up to date?
  • Email signatures: Provide your staff with the link to your end-of-year fundraising campaign and have them include it in their email signatures. It's an easy ask that could help boost visibility of your campaign.

Press Release / Blog Post or Article

  • Some organizations issue press releases about their participation in Giving Tuesday or about their end of year fundraising campaign. For example, this sometimes happens when there is an interesting angle or hook to a campaign, a compelling community update, an influential ambassador (for example, a celebrity) is involved, a popular fundraising event, or there is an exciting corporate sponsor. Confirm all details when drafting copy, and prepare for distribution on Giving Tuesday.

Updating and streamlining your communications will make it easy for audiences to access information and donate to your organization.

5. Fundraising plan


Build a fundraising plan that aligns with your goals and helps you outline your timeline and fundraising activities for the end of the year. There are a wide variety of ways to fundraise for your organization. Customize your fundraising activities based on your goals and donor demographics.

Here are some fundraising ideas to implement and promote among your donor base:

Online Fundraisers

In 2020, social media posts were attributed as the prominent driver of charitable giving, and over 81% of donors reported looking at a nonprofit’s website and social media accounts as their primary source of information before making a donation. The #GivingTuesday hashtag gets billions of impressions each year. Considering almost all organizations, domestic or international, are active on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you’ll need to set yourself apart. Engage your audience by having a skills-based volunteer set up your social media, create a month’s worth of content, and help you develop your strategy.

Ask your stakeholders to post on social media about your organization with a call to action to support your mission. Where possible, ask stakeholders to set up their own online fundraisers and ask their networks for support. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising has become increasingly popular in the digital philanthropy space, particularly for a time-based Giving Tuesday or holiday campaign. It gives people a clear call-to-action and a set amount of time to respond.

Fundraising Events (Virtual or In-Person)

Create an opportunity for your community to meet one another! Whether in person or online, create an event that will bring staff, board members, volunteers, community members, and donors together to network with one another and hear more about your work.

Philanthropy and fundraising doesn't have to be predictable, get creative! Host a happy hour, a movie screening, trivia night, a sporting activity, karaoke night, a fitness fundraiser, holiday card writing—whatever will resonate most with your community. Make it a ticketed event or suggested donation, with other opportunities at the event to donate. Tell stories, show images and videos, and have your donors hear from program staff about the direct community impact of your organization's work.

Matching Donations

Many companies give back to nonprofits through employee gift matching programs. Once an employee makes a contribution to a nonprofit, they provide verification to their company, and the company makes an additional contribution to the nonprofit. The process and matching gift amount varies by corporation. This is a significant source of revenue within the philanthropy space; approximately $2 to 3 billion is donated annually to nonprofits through matching gift programs.

Add language about matching gift programs in your communications to donors, so that they are aware of this additional opportunity to contribute. Many donors are surprised by how easy it is to ask their company about this!

Direct Mail

Set up a direct mail campaign to ask your donors for support. Customize the letter based on giving history and donor type to develop a more personal appeal. Combine storytelling and data to help donors visualize the impact of a contribution in your community. To drive your fundraising strategy in the future, you can test letters based on content and see what generates more donations.

Email Appeals

Develop a comprehensive email campaign to your email list. Get creative with the content and try different communication approaches to see what works. Here are some ideas:

  • Videos from the community and/or those who are impacted by your work
  • Letters from program staff (for example, if you are an education nonprofit, a letter from a student or teacher)
  • Photo collages of your community/programming
  • Data infographics on your impact
  • Letter from a volunteer on their experience with the organization and its work

Have a clear call to action and provide your list with different ways that they can contribute to the organization.

When it comes to content development, create compelling collateral that can show donors why they should partner with your organization.

Craft the perfect brochure, one pager, appeal letter, and/or donor thank-you letter for an unforgettable campaign that reflects the value and support you provide to your cause area. You can use these for your next campaign or equip your board, volunteers, and staff with this toolkit of materials so they can bolster your fundraising efforts.

6. Make a post-Giving Tuesday fundraising plan

After Giving Tuesday, capitalize on the momentum as you swing into December and the height of end-of-year fundraising—the work doesn't end on December 31st! Develop a fundraising and communications calendar for 2024 to keep the conversation going with your donors. Announce when you reach your 2023 fundraising goal as a milestone, and continue to communicate the impact of your work. In addition to physical thank-you letters, you can even go the extra mile and send handwritten thank-you holiday cards.

Keep in touch and provide information about your work by sending newsletters, program updates, and event invitations. Maintain regular communications through your social media, emails, and websites. Ensure that you have a continuous way to provide recognition and gratitude to your donors.

Track the giving history of your donors, evaluate the campaign's results, and provide reports on how their donations have helped your organization and community. Regular communications encourages people to stay involved, and goes a long way towards donor engagement and retention, and celebration of your mission.

How to use Catchafire for Giving Tuesday and beyond


Philanthropy and mission-critical work requires a great deal of work—but you don't have to do it alone.

At Catchafire, we equip organizations with the resources they need for a successful end-of-year campaign and Giving Tuesday launch. We connect you with thousands of skilled volunteer professionals from around the world who are ready to lend their expertise on one-hour consultation calls and full-length projects in areas such as marketing, finance, IT, graphic design, fundraising, and more. You'll get the capacity support you need, so that you can focus on your mission and community.

With our Giving Tuesday Hub, you can get project support from start to finish:

  • Ensure your systems, branding, and platforms are optimized for your upcoming campaign. Projects include logo design and brand visual identity, setting up your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) database, tech systems, email marketing, website, and social media.
  • Work with our experts to develop your strategy, concept, and timeline so you can create a thorough and thoughtful plan. Projects include brand messaging, elevator pitch coaching, fundraising plan assessments, social media content calendars, or consultations on storytelling and marketing strategy.
  • Use compelling graphics, emails, videos, and documents to reach your audience. Projects include donor letters, copywriting for email marketing, infographics, branded assets, video editing, translation, and more.
  • Don't forget to celebrate your wins and share them with your supporters! Projects include data analysis, thank-you letters, and graphic design for impact reports.

You can also strategize for 2024 (and beyond)!

A new year means new fundraising strategy and tactics. Maybe you’re due to create a brand new fundraising plan, or you want to revisit your existing strategy. Either way, crunching data so you can make the best decisions for your nonprofit is an excellent way to debrief on one year to prepare for the next.

If you’re a grantmaker and would like to learn more about equipping nonprofits in your community with responsive, high-quality operational support, let’s connect. 

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