#GivingTuesday 2020 Ideas & Best Practices

Candace Cody
Candace Cody

GivingTuesday Best Practices

It’s safe to say that 2020 has been all about virtual giving, so if you want to finish strong, it’s a good idea to have a stellar #GivingTuesday digital fundraising strategy. 

2019 was an impressive year for #GivingTuesday. $511M was raised on the day of giving. This is a 28% increase from 2018.

But it wasn’t just the money that benefitted nonprofits and charities across the world. 

In fact, #GivingTuesday organizers estimate there were an astounding 14.2 billion social media impressions and over 110 community coalitions in 2018, meaning supporters weren’t just giving, they were engaging with organizations online.

You definitely want to get in on that conversation. 

Last year we shared some info about Fiver Children’s Foundation, a comprehensive youth development organization that helps children in underserved communities throughout New York City. What they showed this year is that if you have a solid strategy, you can get strong results year after year.

In 2019 they raised $33,944 through their GivingTuesday campaign. Their strategy rests in large part on peer-to-peer fundraising, which is a great way to spread your reach in virtual fundraising.

They recruited 29 supporters to build fundraising pages on their CauseVox page.

We’ve all had to pivot to virtual fundraising in 2020, and 2021 looks like it will continue that trend. Whether you’re a virtual fundraising expert or still getting your feet under you, #GivingTuesday is a great way to improve your virtual fundraising and get your supporters excited to give online.

To help you make the most out of your #GivingTuesday campaign, we’ve put together this list of #GivingTuesday ideas and best practices. End your year strong by having a great #GivingTuesday.

Download your #GivingTuesday planning guide below:

1. Prepare Early

Let’s be real: this year has been buckwild. We’ve spent most of the last 9 months putting out fires. But that doesn’t mean we can’t move into 2021 with a plan, and #GivingTuesday is a great place to start.

Campaigns are only as good as the preparation that goes into them.

In surveys from past #GivingTuesday campaigns, many organizations noted they anticipate spending more time preparing for their campaign in future years. Campaign planning is the ideal way to ensure your campaign goals align with your organization’s goals.

If you can spend just a few hours in the upcoming weeks brainstorming your campaign, you’ll be ahead of the curve. Here are a few things you should discuss with your team as we head towards the holiday season:

  • Themes to tie your fundraising together.
  • Fundraising techniques, such as peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, and special event fundraising (especially if you’re looking at how to move your events to virtual).
  • Potential corporate or major donor gift sponsors/matches.

Watch our Nonprofit Leader Panel from our Digital Fundraising Summit that dives into the details of how Fiver and Catalogue For Philanthropy successfully planned and executed their #GivingTuesday campaigns:

Trust me, learning best practices from real fundraisers who have run successful #GivingTuesday campaigns will pay off in the long run.

2. Set Goals

In a survey of 2015 #GivingTuesday participants, Impact Lab found 62% of all nonprofits that participated had a fundraising goal, with 44% of them achieving it and 25% of organizations coming close to meeting it.

This data helps prove a valid point: setting a goal drives more donations.

Goals help your donors and staff have something to not only work towards but celebrate.

I know that when I’m sitting around the planning table (virtually of course) with my team, we always get a bit anxious about the prospect of setting a goal and not meeting it. But goals don’t have to be just dollars.

In their annual Peanut Butter Drive, North Texas Food Bank had a goal to raise over 220,000 pounds of peanut butter. 

While this example didn’t happen on #GivingTuesday, it’s a great example of how you can think outside the box. By including peanut butter, the food drive got their donors interested and excited and ended up exceeding their monetary goal as well.

Including a goal beyond fundraising helps a campaign gain traction throughout supporter communities. Supporters know exactly what their funds were accomplishing. You can make this even more effective by making frequent updates on their progress throughout the day on social media, ultimately building momentum for the campaign.

This #GivingTuesday, think about the ways your organization can set SMART goals to give your campaign a more relatable target. 

Consider setting any one or more of these goals:

  • Awareness: How many people do you want to educate about your cause?
  • Donors: How many donors are you looking to get overall? How many new donors are you looking to attract?
  • Financial: How much do you want to raise?
  • Personal fundraisers: How many individuals are you looking for to raise funds for your cause?
  • Impact: How much impact do you want to see from the funds raised? How much money does it take to create this impact?
  • Partner: How many partnerships are you looking to build?
  • Pledges: How many people do you want to pledge a commitment to the cause?
  • Reach: How many impressions do you want your campaign to get on social media?
  • Volunteers: How many people do you want to commit as volunteers?

Perhaps not every one of these goals will apply to your campaign, but it’s still important to assess which goals you want to set. Not only do the goals give you a good way to communicate with potential donors, they’ll also help you build out your plan as we move forward.

 3. Tell Good Stories About People

More than ever before, this year is about connecting your donors to the people they’re helping. 2020 is stressful, and many people are feeling like they don’t have control over a lot. You can put a little bit of control back in their hands by giving them the power to help someone else.

In order to do that, you have to tell a good story that shows donors who they’re helping and how it works.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with #GivingTuesday to develop the #MyGivingStory initiative, a space for donors, volunteers, and nonprofit staff to tell the story about why they give. This initiative helps an organization’s supporters find the words and inspiration they need to activate and rally others to get involved.

Stories help to connect people. Not only that, but they help your donors to place themselves in your organization’s work: they can see what their role is and how it impacts someone else.


By telling the story of someone your organization has helped or sharing the reason why a donor is giving, you are putting your audience in their shoes, fostering empathy. This empathy is the inspiration that activates your donors to give.

For #GivingTuesday 2020, think through what stories your nonprofit has to share and how you want to share them with your online audience. One of the easiest ways to make this happen is to get your supporters involved.

Ask your existing donors and social media followers to share why they give to your cause or what activated them to become advocates for your cause. You can use their direct testimonials ro build out larger stories to share.

To further capitalize on your supporters’ stories, give them the opportunity to create their own personal fundraising page, where they can share their own story and fundraise on your behalf on #GivingTuesday.

Peer-to-Peer fundraising page on CauseVox

4. Get A Matching Gift

GivingTuesday and challenge gifts are a perfect pair. A sponsor or donor pledges to match donations up to a certain amount for a specific amount of time. 

You can recruit your board to commit to matching gifts up to a certain amount on #GivingTuesday, or perhaps you want to approach an organization that always makes a large end of the year donation and ask if they would use that gift as a match. Letting donors know that their dollars will be doubled is a huge motivator for giving.

In fact, mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals has been found to increase the response rate by 71% and result in a 51% increase in the average donation amount.

Earlier this year, Just1, an organization that works to end human trafficking, ran a campaign called the 20 For 40 campaign which has a matching grant of $20,000. They highlighted the grant in their marketing and on their page, and it got great attention.

 5. Make Partnerships

#GivingTuesday isn’t just about soliciting donations from your audience; it’s about drawing attention to your cause and building relationships with current and prospective supporters.

Henry Timms, the founder of #GivingTuesday, noted, “Giving can be transactional, but at its best, giving creates life and shares warmth. Giving is empathy in action.”

Giving is about collaboration and working together to create positive impact. Timm even credits that collaboration with #GivingTuesday’s rapid growth.

We can see from past #GivingTuesday campaigns that truly successful organizations do it with partners.

One great example of partnerships is the Give Local initiative hosted by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. This organization didn’t focus on raising funds for themselves, but instead spent their #GivingTuesday 2019 sharing other causes.


This partnership gave donors a sense of confidence in the nonprofits that Catalogue for Philanthropy highlighted. Plus it allowed Catalogue for Philanthropy to focus on one of those non-monetary goals we mentioned earlier: awareness. They got to spread their message and increase awareness of their own goals.


When nonprofits work together using the same media kit, social media hashtags, and share one another’s campaigns online, these actions foster community engagement and give the community something to rally around. This can be especially powerful when you connect with other local organizations and focus on building community in your area.

This year, consider expanding your partnerships with corporations, local businesses, marketers, and other nonprofits to increase your exposure and build new relationships.

Here are a few ways your organization can partner with others:

  • Obtain a matching grant from a corporation that shares the same community values and vision as your own
  • Find businesses that support your cause and ask them to leverage their networks for your campaign, donate a portion of sales on #GivingTuesday, or donate their product/space to host an event
  • Connect with other nonprofits that have supplemental services to yours and consider running a joint event or a competitive campaign
  • Reach out to marketing agencies to donate a certain amount of media for your campaign
  • Research influencers or celebrities that care about your cause and ask them to be an advocate
  • Develop a relationship with media outlets in varying mediums (print, digital, video, etc.) to get the word out about your campaign

If all that sounds overwhelming, we’ve got a few tips to help make it a bit easier:

  • When working with a business, also cater to their employees. Offer opportunities to engage such as by becoming a personal fundraiser.
  • When building a partnership, make sure expectations are clear on both sides. The relationship should be two-sided.
  • Provide a toolkit for your partners to promote your campaign on social, through email, on their website, and in person. Offer customization to better reach the partner’s audience as needed.
  • Follow up with a thank-you note after the campaign ends and ask your partners for feedback.

6. Incorporate #GivingTuesday Into Year-End Fundraising

Since 2012, nonprofits have incorporated GivingTuesday into their year-end fundraising and seen amazing results. In fact you’ll probably notice that your year-end strategies will be very similar to your #GivingTuesday strategies.

Think of GivingTuesday as the launch pad for your larger year-end fundraising campaign. It’s the day you start telling the story you’ll tell for the rest of the season. It’s the first hard ask.

Participate in GivingTuesday with a clear fundraising goal for the day, but keep talking about how that figures into your larger year-end goal. Make it clear that while the first step is definitely launching your fundraising rocket, your goal is to get it to the moon.

You can even use this concept to inspire you when you think about your branding. Imagine your year-end fundraising campaign as one event with GivingTuesday as the kick-off. You could use names like “30 Days of Generosity” or “The Holiday Generosity Quest”.

You can use your branding to send the message that your campaign will keep going through the end of the year, that you’ve got a big goal, and that people can keep participating in the journey after they make a single donation.

Plan Your #GivingTuesday Campaign

As you can see, #GivingTuesday isn’t just a “Day of Giving.” Nonprofits can also use the movement to foster a giving community focused on impact and relationships. It’s an opportunity to build something positive during an otherwise rough year. It’s a chance to change people’s perception of giving to something that ordinary people build together.

Yet, without a strategy, an organized effort to make this change is impossible.

So follow these ideas and best practices to ensure you start your #GivingTuesday 2020 campaign planning on the right foot.

Raise More With Less Effort On #GivingTuesday

CauseVox makes it easy for you to run a #GivingTuesday campaign that’s designed to help you get more donors.

We make it easy for you to setup and brand your #GivingTuesday campaign with less effort.

Plus, all of our forms are conversion-optimized, mobile-optimized, and support 1-click mobile payments (with Apple or Google Pay), so you’ll get more donations through your site.

If you’re looking to power your #GivingTuesday campaign, you can get started with CauseVox for free.

This post was originally published in July 2017 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness in 2020.

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