Carpe Diem: Use a Giving Day to Raise Money — and Awareness

Do you have plans for November 29, 2016? If that date doesn’t ring a bell, your organization probably isn’t participating in National Giving Tuesday. But considering the opportunities associated with it, maybe you should.

What is it?

Giving Tuesday, or National Day of Giving, was created to encourage Americans to contribute to charity during the holiday season, similarly to how they participate in commercial shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Like Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday wouldn’t be possible without technology. Participants use social media to raise awareness about issues and how their nonprofits are responding to them. Raising money online is a central goal, but Giving Tuesday is also intended to educate potential supporters and encourage them to volunteer in their communities.

Since its establishment almost five years ago by New York City’s 92nd Street Y, Giving Tuesday has grown into an enormously successful global event. It currently has more than 40,000 charitable, for-profit business and government participants. In 2015 it raised more than $117 million in a 24-hour period — a 150% increase over the previous year — and received 1.3 million Twitter mentions, according to NBC News.

Get involved

If you’re interested in participating, sign up at GivingTuesday.org. You must be registered as a 501(c)3 organization and you’ll need to provide a link to your own website or a third-party payment service that supporters can use to make donations. Donors can’t directly give money to your charity through the Giving Tuesday website. What the site does offer, however, are free marketing tools, including logos and banners, and advice on leveraging your social media presence and support base for maximum impact.

Your nonprofit’s participation in this designated day can be minimal or substantial, depending on your resources and greater objectives. If this is your first year, try a simple goal. For example, use the day to remind supporters to make their deductible gifts by year end. Or publicize the list of supplies your facility needs on an ongoing basis. It’s easier to both accomplish and measure progress toward such focused goals.

Start planning

At a minimum, start planning several months in advance of November 29. If you’re getting a late start or are simply too busy the week after Thanksgiving to spearhead a fundraising campaign, consider participating in another 24-hour fundraiser. In addition to city-specific events held throughout the year, such as Pittsburgh’s Day of Giving and Seattle’s GiveBIG, there are more general options, such as Give Local America®.

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