Lessons Learned from Giving Tuesday

Oct 31, 2021Donors, Leadership, Message, Nonprofits, Philanthropy

Lessons-Learned-from-GivingTuesday Donors Leadership Message Nonprofits Philanthropy

There are a number of lessons learned from Giving Tuesday each year.

While giving to several nonprofits as a test one year, I received varying responses and degrees of gratitude. I was drawn in by some nonprofits and not by others. I experienced heartfelt gratitude and then again, a sense of weak sincerity by others.

If you plan to participate in Giving Tuesday this year, you want to secure and WOW donors that day!  (If you are not participating in Giving Tuesday, check this out!)

How to Wow Your Donors on Giving Tuesday

Go live.

Either the executive director, development director, board chair, or board member (or a combination) should go live before noon on Facebook and Instagram on Giving Tuesday.

Share with your listeners how your organization transforms lives or your community – whatever your mission promises.

Above all, you want to identify a story ahead of time that conveys the impact of gifts received. Practice telling that story. Then share that story when you're live.

Then ask for support!

Share how gifts matter to the people or places being served.

To make it more personable, read off the names of those who have given on this day so far.

No doubt, have well thought-out points to cover.

Be natural. Be conversational. And allow your sincerity to show. Remember to practice so you are comfortable.

My Lessons Learned from #GivingTuesday

Certainly, there were take-aways from Giving Tuesday from the gifts I made. The responses varied. In fact, the responses varied greatly.

With one nonprofit, I was impressed when I immediately received two separate gift acknowledgment emails after making my online gift.

One message was highly personalized and came within 20 minutes of making my gift. The other acknowledgement came several hours later from a friend on staff. With these timely responses, the staff made me feel they truly appreciated my gift.

On the contrary, the other nonprofit was not so responsive. I did not feel the gratitude. Several days after making my online gift, I receive a form letter in the mail from the executive director. No doubt, I didn’t feel the love from this one organization like I felt from the other one.

Giving Tuesday is fueled by the power of social media. Since we are using social media to ask for support, we need to leverage social media to provide a quick response of sincere gratitude.

With this in mind, know that major donors are on social media. They are watching and judging how you interact with supporters and how appreciative you are of gifts received.

Indeed, this example is about Giving Tuesday. But it’s a day representing how you show gratitude to your donors.


Ways to instill a culture of donor gratitude at your organization

A culture of donor gratitude is reflected in every activity at your organization. Which organization are you? The one that practices gratitude all of the time? Or the organization that doesn't consider how you make your donors feel?

1. Thank all donors within 24 hours of receiving gift

Without question, the longest time between receiving and thanking a donor is 72 business hours.

When you receive a major gift (as defined by your organization), pick up the phone and call the donor immediately to say thank you. Leave a message on their recorder if you need to. If you are slammed in meetings all day, call the donor on your drive home from work. It does not need to be a long conversation.

The donor wants to know you received their gift.

With sincerity, the donor wants to feel appreciated.


2. Do not fake gratitude

Absolutely, be sincere when you thank a donor for their gift. You have been on the side of giving and felt insincerity before. I bet you felt disrespected. Don’t be that person.

Your donors are making sacrifices and have selected your organization to support. Let them know you appreciate their gift.

Note: If you don't feel deep appreciation for donor giving, think about another career outside of nonprofit work.

3. Respond to calls, emails and gifts immediately

Without a doubt, your schedules are busy. You have a skeleton crew and are wearing many hats to make your nonprofit churn on a shoe-string budget.

However, when your most ardent supporters (board members, partners, donors) contact you or make a gift, make it a habit to reply to them as soon as possible. Your timely response sends a message they are valued. Respect they are offering to help. They think enough of you and your organization that you are top of mind.

Why would you stop giving to a charity?

How you show gratitude and make your donors feel should always be at the forefront.

Annual donors, and certainly major donors, have estate plans and keep several nonprofits in their plans. Those plans can be changed.

Bottom line, aim to surprise and delight your donors. That includes on Giving Tuesday.

Often, it’s the simple things we do to show gratitude.

Be timely.

Be sincere.

And make it a part of your culture. It starts at the top with leadership and trickles down.

Think about why you would stop giving to a charity. Read more about Why Donors Don’t Respond here.

Question: What are ways you are uniquely practicing gratitude with your major donors?

Nancy Rieves, Ed.D. is a fundraising coach. She provides executive and development directors with a roadmap to maximize and sustain major gift fundraising. She prepares leaders to be confident and successful in raising money. Reach her at nancy@nancyrieves.com.


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