Kirsty Marrins: Make the most of Giving Tuesday

The annual social media campaign can be a huge fundraising opportunity for charities that engage with it. But how do you make the most of the day?

The days are getting darker and the nights longer, but at least one positive aspect of the grey descent into winter is the advent of the traditional season of goodwill. And it’s not just Christmas: first comes Giving Tuesday, an annual day of giving, fuelled by the power of social media and collaboration. 

Celebrated five days after Thanksgiving, the event was first launched in 2012 in the US as a reaction to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Years later, Giving Tuesday has grown into a global movement, with more than 70 countries taking part, and in 2018 it raised more than $400m online worldwide. The Charities Aid Foundation, which oversees Giving Tuesday in the UK, reported that the campaign reached more than 41 million people in the UK alone and raised £7.8m last year. 

So how can your charity make the most of this global day of giving, which this year will be celebrated on 3 December? Here are four practical tips.

1. Use the day to launch your own campaign 

Giving Tuesday takes place in December this year, so why not use it to launch a Christmas or Winter Appeal? The #GivingTuesday hashtag always trends on Twitter so is a great opportunity to ride that wave of awareness and get your appeal in front of more people, as well as raise money towards your target. 

2. Re-energise an existing appeal 

If you’ve already launched a campaign, Giving Tuesday can be used to re-energise your campaign and give it another boost. Last year, the small charity Tiny Tickers launched an appeal a month before Giving Tuesday called Test for Tommy. It aimed to raise enough money to fund a machine that tests the amount of oxygen in a newborn baby’s blood to see if they might have a heart condition. 

On Giving Tuesday, the charity set up the tangible goal of raising £750, enough money to pay for one machine. With no budget, it relied heavily on social media, creating a Facebook fundraiser and using text and online donation platforms to give people different donation options. It promoted positive case studies so that people could see how these machines changed lives, and the charity’s chief executive, Jon Arnold, created a video demonstrating how the machine worked, bringing the campaign to life. Arnold led two Facebook takeovers on the day to keep people interested and inspired to give. 

By the end of Giving Tuesday, the charity had smashed its fundraising target sixfold, raising £4,500, which bought six machines. "We were blown away," Arnold said of the response. 

3. Get your celebrity ambassadors and patrons involved

Giving Tuesday is a brilliant opportunity to give your celebrity ambassadors and patrons an easy way to offer support. Every year, Haven House Children’s Hospice invites its ambassadors and patrons to get involved, providing them with copy and a link to where people can make donations. It sends this a week before Giving Tuesday, reminding them of the initiative the day before. The strategy has been highly successful in raising awareness of the charity to a wider audience. 

4. Think beyond support in money

Millions of pounds are raised on Giving Tuesday, but it doesn’t have to be about money. In 2017, Marie Curie asked staff to get involved by writing personalised thank-you cards to its most outstanding supporters. More than 2,000 cards were handwritten by staff, and even one of its corporate partners got involved, writing 200. This is a lovely way to give back to your supporters and offer everyone in the charity (not just the fundraising team) an opportunity to participate in Giving Tuesday.

Last year, Carers Link asked supporters to donate Christmas gifts to young carers instead of making donations of money. Giving Tuesday gave it national reach as a local charity and it was able to treat 20 young carers to gifts at its Christmas party.

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