Why GivingTuesdayNow Is Not What Nonprofits Need

The nonprofit landscape right now is something we’ve never seen before. We’re all scrambling to understand what the right response to Coronavirus is, and how we can weather this storm.

Enter #GivingTuesdayNow. It’s basically GivingTuesday in May. 

The idea behind #GivingTuesdayNow means well. They’re looking to confront the challenges of coronavirus with increasing the giving spirit.

And that all sounds great. 

We agree that this is the time to tap into a spirit of generosity and giving and ask communities to come together. The problem is that a single day isn’t a sustainable solution

It’s just a one-day fireworks show. 

I’ve been saying this for years — what nonprofits need is a digital fundraising engine so they can raise consistent funds over time, all year long, with or without Coronavirus. 

What’s Wrong with #GivingTuesdayNow


There are ways to make online giving events incredibly effective. Unfortunately, #GivingTuesdayNow is breaking some of the most important rules of digital fundraising.

#1: It’s Short On Time

Most nonprofits take time to shift because they are thinly staffed, under-resourced, and have a governance layer for checks and balances.

Organizations that are already struggling to adapt to the coronavirus situation don’t have the hours to develop a completely new campaign strategy, reach out to supporters and board members, or build a matching grant in just a few weeks.

#2: It’s Out Of Touch

Let me rephrase: #GivingTuesdayNow is a bit tone-deaf. 26 million people are unemployed in the U.S. right now. Companies are laying people off left and right. Is this really the right time to make a big ask for people to give?

Most organizations haven’t even been able to engage in their missions in the last month or two. Do you want to be building a campaign that says “sorry we haven’t been here and you’re unemployed, why not make a gift?” It’s not exactly the way you want to build a relationship with your donors.

#3: It’s Not Sustainable 

One more time, a little louder. A fireworks show of a giving day will not support nonprofits through what looks to be months of pandemic impact. It’s a huge short-cut that will end up getting us nowhere. Sure, it sounds appealing to spend one-day fundraising and be good to go. But when is the easy way ever the right way? Instead, we should lay strong groundwork so that we can do this the right way.

We need long-term planning and donors who will help us sustain over time. It’s not like we can just have Giving Tuesday every month. 

So What Should Nonprofits Do?

Here’s the truth: your fundraising playbook got thrown out in March. 

We’re all doing things differently now. 

Unlike the way you used to do things, digital fundraising doesn’t move project by project. It’s a constant cycle of attracting and nurturing donors. Instead of thinking about individual campaigns, you should focus on your long-term strategies.

#1: Make Sure You Have A Great Donation Page

Think about how you can build an engine for fundraising that grows each week. Start with a strong donation page (even if you think your user experience is quick and easy, it could be quicker and easier). That base will help you convert donors, which allows you to focus on bringing them to the page.

#2: Spend Time Investing In Building Up Recurring Donations

Recurring gifts give you easy revenue in the future. That’s a donor you don’t have to woo 11 more times, they’ve already committed to donating for the rest of the year. This is an incredibly strong way to build sustainable income rather than a single gift that is gone the next month.

#3: You Can Raise More With Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer to peer fundraising is the best way to maximize your staff’s time and labor. Instead of putting all the burden on employees, your supporters can take on some of the work. This makes the campaign more sustainable in the long run because your employees won’t burn out. 

Especially right now when it’s tricky to make an ask, having a personal connection is incredibly important. If your supporters are reaching out to their family and friends, they know how to ask (and who shouldn’t get an ask right now). 

If this all feels like we’re telling you to throw your experience out the window take a deep breath: you know what you’re doing! 

You got this.

You know how to build long-term relationships that bring your donors back month after month to support your organization. Use the skills you already have to focus on sustainability and long-term planning instead of jumping into flashy events that won’t be there for you in a couple of months.

And if you’re looking for even more support, check out these ideas for fundraising during a pandemic. 

Let’s build something sustainable together.

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