Giving Tuesday 2021 Tips and Trends

Everything you need to know to raise more money and win more Giving Tuesday campaigns

Giving Tuesday 2021 is around the corner, but does anyone know what’s in store for us this year? Will we see a surge similar to the pandemic-related giving of 2020? Will arts organizations and small nonprofits–many of whom saw steep declines last year–rebound? Will the increasing cost of living in many areas result in smaller gifts? 

While the world has changed quite a bit since Giving Tuesday 2020, one thing that hasn’t changed is the uncertainty of navigating our new normal. That said, the same qualities that brought organizations record-breaking contributions in 2020 ($2.47 billion in the U.S. alone) will be essential once more in 2021: knowledge, preparedness, creativity, and a keen eye for opportunity. Luckily, these are qualities that nonprofit professionals have in spades!

So in the interest of helping you prepare for November 30, let’s take a look at the predictions for this year, and how they were informed by data from 2020. Then we’ll provide some specific recommendations on how digital engagement tools can help you make the most of Giving Tuesday 2021.

Giving Tuesday 2020 trends, insights and 2021 predictions

As you put your Giving Tuesday 2021 plans in motion, I highly recommend GivingTuesday Data Commons’ excellent analysis of last year, “Giving in Unprecedented Times: A Lookback at 2020 U.S. Giving Data & Trends” for insightful and actionable takeaways. For a quick overview, here are some metrics supplemented by insights from Engaging Networks:

giving tuesday infographic

One of the most common predictions for this year is that the surge in giving will settle, and that fundraising will more closely resemble pre-2020 giving. In 2020, new donors, high value retained donors, and recaptured donors were largely responsible for increases in overall fundraising dollars (+5.2%) and number of donors (+1.3%). These new donors drove an 11% increase in small donations between $101-$500 and reversed a five-year trend for donations under $100, which increased by .5%. At the same time, however, donor retention dropped significantly (-38%), indicating a high level of donor mobility. In other words, last year donors changed not only how much they gave, but also who they chose to receive their donations. In a year of great need, donors shifted their giving to the causes they felt were most important, and those causes were not, in many cases, the same as those they supported in 2019 and before.

What does that mean for this year? It means that many organizations will enter this year’s Giving Tuesday with large numbers of lapsed donors who contributed elsewhere in 2020 as well as new donors that they hope to retain. As a result, organizations should prioritize retention strategies (for new 2020 donors), and recapture strategies (for donors who stagnated in 2020). It also means that organizations who acquired large numbers of new donors have an opportunity to upgrade them this year and convert one-time gifts to recurring support.

Let’s take a look at some of the most helpful tools to accomplish these goals!

Engagement tools to help you make the most of Giving Tuesday 2021

Given the circumstances, Giving Tuesday 2021 may sound like a tough needle to thread: you want to retain and upgrade new donors gained last year, but you also want to recapture donors who may not have had the interest or resources to contribute in 2020. While it certainly isn’t easy, I like to think that a few guiding principles can help keep us on track. For me, those are: make it personal, make it easy, and make it the first of many. Luckily, there are a number of digital tools to help you, all of which can be utilized with the Engaging Networks platform.

Make it personal: Customize communications with donor

When it comes to retention and recapture strategies, the strongest tool at your disposal will be making use of your established relationship with a donor. You know who they are and what they care about, so use that in your outreach! Consider the following digital engagement tools to help:

  • Use Personalized Ask Amounts: One size fits all donation pages are great for getting folks in the door, but relationships with donors grow when they’re prompted to give specific amounts informed by their giving history. With Engaging Networks’ Next Suggested Gift tool, you can provide your donors with a donation page and ask amounts unique to them, based on either their highest previous contribution amount or their most recent contribution.
  • Highlight the Interests of your Supporters: Not all of your donors are drawn to your work for the same reasons. Some may be interested in one program over another, or a specific geographic region, or a type of service. On a day when people will be bombarded on all sides with appeals to giving, you can get a leg up by leveraging the knowledge you have and presenting conditional content to your donors based on their interests and relationship with you. If I’m a cat person and I land on a donation page with impact stories all about dogs, I might just navigate away! However, with conditional content I can click an email link that will bring me, a known lover of cats, to a donation page that focuses entirely on cat rescue efforts, while another supporter who heads to the same page will see dog-specific content. Full disclosure: I love all animals equally.
  • Leverage your Networks: Giving Tuesday continues to grow because it feels good to participate in a movement for a good cause. With that in mind, give your supporters the opportunity to join in further with a DIY peer-to-peer fundraising page. While we’re used to individuals fundraising for events, races, birthdays, and memorials, a DIY fundraising campaign for Giving Tuesday provides the opportunity for your dedicated supporters to join in on a day when so many are looking to give. It’s also an opportunity to add some new names to your lists!

Make it easy: Simple donation fields and corporate matching

Let’s be clear: a smooth and simple donor experience is always the goal, but on a day where the public is being appealed to from the entire nonprofit community, it’s absolutely essential. Here are a few ways to help your donors make the most of their day.

  • The Less they Need to Fill Out, the Better, Part One: Giving Tuesday can sometimes feel like the shortest 24 hours of the year, so your donors will be thankful for any time they can save. By inserting campaign links in your emails through Engaging Networks, you can make sure your donation form fields are pre-populated with supporter information, meaning your donors won’t waste valuable time trying to remember their zip code (although this may be more of a personal problem).
  • The Less they Need to Fill Out, the Better, Part Two: Sometimes the choice between which organization to donate to may come down to nothing more than who makes it easier to pay. With options for Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Paypal One Touch, you can be sure that your supporters will be able to donate even if their wallet has fallen out of their pocket and into the little space between the driver’s seat and center console (again, this might be a me problem).
  • Leverage Corporate Matching and Leave Nothing on the Table: By utilizing Engaging Networks’ integration with Double the Donation, donors can easily search Double the Donation’s database of corporate matching gift programs to see if their employer will help increase the impact of their gift. With smaller gifts taking an increasingly large role in 2020, you can use this tool to help supporters make the most of their donation.

Make it the first of many: Finding new donors

So far I’ve focused on tools to help you retain first-time donors from 2020 and recapture donors from previous years, but one of the most exciting opportunities offered by Giving Tuesday is of course the chance to find new people who are passionate about your mission. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression, so be sure you’re putting your best organizational foot forward, especially on Giving Tuesday.

  • Highlight Mission and Impact: With Engaging Networks’ free and flexible templates, you can easily build and customize a donation form that provides a quick snapshot of your organization’s mission and the impact a donor’s gift will have. Images, videos, colors, and text are all customizable, and for the tech savvy members of your team you can also add custom HTML, CSS, and JS.
  • Take It a Step Further with Symbolic Gifts: Symbolic gift ecommerce pages can help you go even further in communicating the impact of your work to new donors. These pages allow donors to donate an amount that will accomplish a specific action or goal, for example “build a well for a village,” or “buy a goat for a farmer.” This allows donors unfamiliar with your work to see exactly what their contribution accomplishes, communicating both the importance of your work and the impact your donor has on the world. Since it’s the holiday season, you can also send e-cards to the recipient of the gift!
  • Don’t Stop There! It’s December 1, 2021, and Giving Tuesday is over, but your relationship with your new donors is just beginning! Instead of immediately adding these donors to your regular appeals, use marketing automation tools to send a welcome series. These new supporters may have donated impulsively from a social media ad or through word of mouth, so make sure to take some time to share information about your organization and how they can stay involved. Lay the foundation for long-term stewardship and many happy Giving Tuesdays to come!

For more information on preparing for Giving Tuesday 2021, download our Giving Tuesday Checklist!

Looking for more Giving Tuesday ideas and case studies? Check out tips and tricks from year’s past:

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