As we shift into the second half of 2020, organizations will need to re-evaluate their strategies around fundraising and donor engagement. This is a key moment to step back and review what worked and what needs improvement.
Yet now more than ever it is critical that organizations invest into creating moments that help your mission stand out. One of the best ways a nonprofit can get focused is to pick a focal point for their efforts and start to work toward that. An excellent example of this is GivingTuesday.
While there are certainly detractors around GivingTuesday that view it as the articulation of what Vu Le calls “the nonprofit hunger games,” the reality is that a properly run GivingTuesday campaign can be an extremely effective way to retain existing donors and engage new ones.
This year is going to be very different though, so we wanted to unpack what has happened so far this year and help position your organization for maximum success in the lead up to this coming GivingTuesday (which is December 1, by the way).
Where We Are
The coronavirus pandemic has upended the traditional giving cycle for many nonprofits. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, there has been a 6% decline in dollars raised in the first three months of 2020. Retention declined 3.1% compared to last year as well. Yet there is a silver lining in these numbers, with small dollar donors of $250 or below actually giving 5.8% more when compared to last year.
More positive news came in May with the initiation of GivingTuesdayNow, an emergency call to action by the folks who help coordinate GivingTuesday. On May 5, they asked the world to rally for a focal point of generosity and helped deliver an impressive $503 million in one day.
Neon One is a close data partner with GivingTuesday and our clients in particular saw some very encouraging gains. Across our CRM, peer to peer fundraising, and giving day platforms, the Neon One ecosystem helped raise over $54 million for over 10,000 organizations. To break things down a bit further:
- 50% increase in dollars raised on GivingTuesdayNow compared to GivingTuesday 2019
- $20,754,228 was raised by the North Texas GivingTuesdayNow campaign alone, the largest GivingTuesdayNow campaign in the industry
- The average online credit card gift was $131.03, a 10% increase from April’s average
- The average online ACH gift was $179.35, a 17% increase from April’s average
Yet not every nonprofit sees this type of success on giving days like this, so what can an organization do to be successful?
Where To Go Next
With an uncertain giving environment, it is critical that nonprofits continue to communicate with donors consistently throughout the year. Creating a feedback loop that articulates the impact that donor dollars are having will help increase donor retention as well as ensure that donors are prepared for another appeal later in the year.
Laying the foundation for future appeals is one of the most important things that your organization can do. There’s been some studies around the impact of not communicating with donors during the coronavirus pandemic and continuing to fundraise should be a major component of your organization’s strategy moving forward.
While your organization may experience a dip in overall giving in the coming months, historically the last few weeks of the calendar year have been where the majority of donors make their gift and it should be expected that this year will be no different.
Concretely, there are a few key tactics that your organization can deploy in the lead up to GivingTuesday and end of the year.
- Don’t necessarily put the pressure to make a big appeal on GivingTuesday itself. Many nonprofits use that day to thank previous donors for their gift and lay the groundwork for an appeal shortly after the day itself.
- If you’re doing an appeal on GivingTuesday itself, make it the kick off to your overall year end giving. Get ready to report the impact of previous gifts as well as the vital need that your organization has to continue its mission with donor support.
- Start planning now for these year end appeals. With the potential for another wave of coronavirus as well as generally being a good idea, advanced planning will ensure that you can pivot your message to meet donors in the moment where they are.
- Get ready to lean into peer to peer fundraising as a driver for your campaigns. With an increase in digital giving and communications, empowering your biggest supporters to raise funds on your behalf is an excellent way to build excitement for GivingTuesday and beyond.
- Lean into creating videos to engage your audience, either through live streaming events or just to communicate. With the average person retaining 95% of what they see in a video, your organization cannot afford to invest in this communication medium.
Ultimately, nonprofit organizations should push themselves to be extraordinary and unique on GivingTuesday. Review the copy that you’re using and see if it truly speaks to the reasons that a donor personally would be interested in your mission. Are you asking them to give because it is a certain day (e.g. Give now because its GivingTuesday!) or are you asking them to give because you have developed a personalized connection with them and are appealing to that emotion (e.g. We need you now more than ever to help save cats).
No matter what, utilizing the right tools and messaging in fun and exciting way to you and your donors will be the best investment your organization can make in the coming months.