Over the past eight years, I've wrestled with different feelings about the value of Giving Tuesday. The first several years after it was launched, I was a fan. The idea that a rising tide lifts all boats seemed to be the appropriate sentiment. I say this because the day provided nonprofits with a heightened sense of awareness from the public and a great recognition of the need for financial support. Some of that positive feeling may have been contextual. Around the time Giving Tuesday was introduced, I was splitting my time between growing my own new nonprofit organization and leading another more established nonprofit. I could see that for less visible organizations like mine, Giving Tuesday was especially helpful.
Over the years, that sentiment has shifted. I still believe Giving Tuesday is a wonderful idea, but I've also experienced some of the pitfalls. Please know I'm not generalizing here - I'm merely stating some of what I've experienced. I've worked with several nonprofits where Giving Tuesday cannibalized the launch of a year-end holiday appeal. There was an organization which made the process of donating and fundraising so complicated that it became an 8 step process requiring numerous emails many weeks in advance. I've talked to organizations that spent lots of time, energy and resource planning elaborate campaigns for the day only to see very small amounts raised - sometimes pretty much what would have been raised with little or no effort.
Here's my end point: Giving Tuesday provides a unique opportunity to globally raise awareness of the important work of the nonprofit community. That in and of itself is of value. At the same time, organizations should decide whether it's a worthwhile investment to dedicate significant resources to the effort.
How do you make that kind of decision? Pretty much the same way you'd decide on and structure any campaign. Understand the results you want to create. Have a good understanding of what you'll need to raise to create those results. Know your donors and how they receive messages. And finally, figure out if Giving Tuesday is the best way to connect with those that are eager to support you.
And my final endpoint: Wishing all of you a Giving Tuesday that rewards your efforts and supports the important work you do.