Let’s be honest: When did your #GivingTuesday planning start last year? Halloween? Thanksgiving?? I’ll admit that our organization wasn’t ready, and we had been planning since August!

The time to start thinking strategically about “philanthropy’s Christmas” is now. Your organization should start setting the foundation for a kickass campaign that rises above the rest and shows your community that you’re serving them with efficiency and innovation.

Why Should I Care About Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday raised $45.6 million in 2014 and last year’s total is expected to eclipse that figure. It’s by far the biggest day of the year for charitable giving and it’s now so big that it has become an event in itself, with international media coverage, support from communities and influential corporations far and wide, and a social media maelstrom of its own.

In short, it’s a really big and lucrative party that everyone is invited to. But you have to earn your ticket.

How Can I Get Involved?

First, there are a few things you should know about #GivingTuesday:

  1. It’s inherently social.
  2. It leverages strong corporate partnerships.
  3. While there is a lot of competition from other nonprofits, there are also opportunities for those with great messages and those who are willing to work together.

What’s most exciting about this day is that it’s an entree to philanthropy for many people who aren’t usually regular donors. That means it’s your opportunity to prospect to a fantastic new – and frequently younger – potential pool of donors. #Winning! The Giving Tuesday authority has compiled some case studies that include great ideas you can steal copy and make your own.

What Can I Do to Prepare?

Start thinking about your key messages now, and make notes for yourself. This time of year is the only chance most nonprofit communicators have the time to see the forest for the trees, so now is the time to get strategic.

Find Your Stories

What are the most compelling stories that your organization has been involved in this year? What are the best images? What programs lend themselves to great storytelling? What is changing in the world in which you work? Listen for a beat and find out what your clients, supporters and staff are saying about your organization: Frequently, that will be the message you want to convey to the world.

Develop Relationships

What other nonprofits are working in the same field? How open would they be to a partnership that will boost your signal? What corporate partners do you currently have, who have extra capacity to boost their offering in a national forum? What media relationships do you need, and how can you make yourself useful to journalists now so that the Giving Tuesday messages come in the context of a thriving working relationship?

Lay the Groundwork for Success

Develop a content framework that speaks to your strengths, and plan to slow-drip stories leading up to the day. For some organizations, two months of stories will make sense. For others, a few weeks ahead will do. Whatever your schedule, develop content well ahead of time so you’re not freaking out in October when end-of-year campaigns are in full swing, the November election looms large and the holiday season is fast approaching.

Plan and build the infrastructure you might need – landing pages, email templates, branding, social media image templates and media releases. For goodness’ sake, make it easy for people to donate on mobile. Don’t forget to bring your organization’s leadership with you. Develop messages for them to share and ways they can help get the word out – most of the time, they’ll relish the opportunity to support your work.

When Giving Tuesday Comes, Pace Yourself

This note is especially for media relations and social media managers. You’ve spent so much time and energy planning for this one day that by the time it rolls around, you’re already exhausted. Take advantage of scheduling tools for tasks you can do ahead of time. For example, Outlook and Gmail will both let you schedule emails for Giving Tuesday press releases, so you can focus on making calls. And social media managers, put your posts in your scheduler days or weeks beforehand so you can concentrate on retweeting strategically and searching for mentions of your organization and its work.

And for those of you, like me, who don’t live on the east coast of the U.S., don’t forget the adage: The early bird gets the tweet. It might take some strong coffee and/or a cattle prod, but get up a little early and you’ll thrive in this hectic national event.

Good luck!


Writing for Right develops fundraising communications strategy for year-round and events like Giving Tuesday. Please get in touch if we can help plan your next campaign.