Article

Why GivingTuesday Was a Failure

GivingTuesday is over.

In the next few days, you’ll hear about how this year’s GivingTuesday was bigger than last year and the years before. 

$2 billion raised from thousands and thousands of charities of all sizes.

At CauseVox, our users raised more than 2x more than last year. There’s much to celebrate all around on how much impact this can enable.

But when you dig a bit deeper, I believe that most nonprofits failed on GivingTuesday.

Here’s why.

On GivingTuesday, I received three dozen emails from nonprofits. It’s the typical, “Hey it’s GivingTuesday, please donate.”

Some folks did a great job of adding in content about impact and making a specific ask.

I made it an effort to read and click on the donate link in all of those emails. I donated to some.

About 10% of folks gave me a seamless donation experience. I click on “donate” in the email, a browser window opens, and I can make a donation in two or three clear easy steps. 

Some people were using CauseVox, others were using competitors, but still easy to use. Hooray for frenemies (and thank you for your service).

But, I was horrified at the rest.

90% of the folks had something that was clunky and unprofessional.

If I was lucky, I got a form they typically use for their website that was not appeal specific. Some of these were not mobile optimized and had the tiniest radio buttons ever. How do I not fat-finger this process and have to start over three times!?

If I was unlucky, it just took me to their homepage where I had to hunt down where the donate button was. 

Thank you for the scavenger hunt. 

Since it was so hard to figure out how I could give, it seemed like my donation wasn’t important to them at all. Bummer.

Here’s the truth. Donor stewardship starts before a donor donates and is still an afterthought for many nonprofits.

At the point of conversion, most nonprofits gave their donors a terrible experience that fell way below what they experienced shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday on other websites.

This is what you’re telling your donors: I don’t care about you. Just give me the money because today is the day when I’m supposed to ask.

Nonprofits, you can do better than this. Here’s how:

  • Nurture before you ask. Give them a delightful experience in every interaction — in person, via email, and when they donate.
  • Your donation form matters, own it. Make it more joyful than buying stuff online.
  • Fundraising is a process that can be optimized and scaled every single day rather than just once a year on GivingTuesday.

As a donor, please don’t make us collectively face-palm ourselves when we support you.

When you invest in your donor’s experience, you show your donors you care about their time, effort, and gift.

Making their giving experience easy on any device will not only help you raise more now, but when they return.

Ultimately, GivingTuesday is only one day but fundraising doesn’t have to be a one time project. Imagine what could happen if you invested more in growing giving every single day through an amazing fundraising process and donor-stewardship?

Now, that would be something to celebrate.


This piece was written by Rob Wu (CEO + Founder at CauseVox). He will be ranting through opinion pieces like this from time to time moving forward.

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