27 August 2018

7 steps to an effective #GivingTuesday campaign

7 steps to an effective #GivingTuesday campaign.

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated, in the U.S., on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season. It is also the time of year when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.
This year, #GivingTuesday is on November 27. While some folks already started planning for this in May, it’s not too late to get in on the game! Start by September or early October, and you too can be well prepared to make this year’s #GivingTuesday a success for your organization.

Step 1: Sign up on #GivingTuesday website.

While this is not required, it is an invaluable resource. The folks at #GivingTuesday will send you lots of resources, including a complete toolkit, various ideas and inspiration as well as relevant hashtags you can use on social media. You can also find most of them on their website if that is more your style.

focus in lights yet slightly out of focus

Step 2: Set a goal

While #GivingTuesday started with the focus of getting donations, today it’s a call-to-action used for a variety of goals. You can focus on increasing social media followers or engagement or recruiting volunteers. You choose what’s most important to you right now. And if it’s donations, but you also want to offer people the option to volunteer or follow you on social media, that’s okay. Although you can have multiple goals, it is a best practice to put most of your efforts into one primary, measurable goal.

Also, decide whether #GivingTuesday is something you’re working on separate from your year-end donation campaign, or if it is directly related. Organizations usually decide to send emails and post on social media a week leading up to #GivingTuesday with messages about what #GivingTuesday is, announcing their participation, and asking followers to save the date.

Step 3: Create a plan

  • Select one person to lead the project and draft the plan, with help from a designated team of staff, consultants, or volunteers, if available.
  • Determine what you need to support your goals. Do you want to develop a new landing page for the #GivingTuesday campaign? Do you need a separate donation form and link to help you track #GivingTuesday donations? Do you need a new or updated online volunteer sign-up form?
  • Next consider partnerships. What partnerships do you need or want? Do you want to partner or collaborate with businesses, nonprofits, or local government in some way? The #GivingTuesday folks have suggestions in their toolkit about encouraging your local leaders to formally designate the day as #GivingTuesday, which helps support potential for local press coverage too. The toolkit also has a template press release you can use in your efforts.
  • Finally, see if your city or state is planning a community campaign for #GivingTuesday. If there’s a local movement, reach out to their team to see how you can get involved. You can view the list of campaigns on the #GivingTuesday campaign map.

journal with large dollar sign

Step 4: Determine what resources and budget you need

You will definitely need materials to post on social media, including suggested text, photos, graphics, and potentially videos. Some templates are available at the Giving Tuesday website. Mostly, though, you will need to create your own materials to be authentic to your organization and your goal. You will definitely need to:

  • Draft text for 6 days of social media posts on all of the channels you use, 1-2 times/day leading up to Nov 27, and 5-8 times the day of.
  • Use the #GivingTuesday hashtag. If you tag @GivingTuesday in Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, or @GivingTues in Twitter, the organization will also share your materials.
  • Create graphics, compile photos, or take photos to include with each post.

You might also consider:

  • Taking #unselfies of staff, volunteers, members, or clients showing why they support #GivingTuesday (see examples in this social media toolkit).
  • Shooting short videos of staff, volunteers, members and or clients saying what your services mean to them, why they support you, or why they are participating in #GivingTuesday.
  • Drafting email content including text, photos, and graphics for 2-4 emails to be sent to your mailing list before and during the campaign. You’ll want to send 1-3 emails before the campaign to get people primed and ready, and 1-3 emails on the day of.
  • Drafting a blog post about your campaign and sharing it on the #GivingTuesday blog
  • Drafting a press release and pitching local TV, radio, and newspapers.
  • Putting attention into your thank-you message. If someone donates or signs up online, it amplifies your impact if you send them a great thank-you email. Ideally it will include a photo or graphic, and an easy way for readers to share their action on social media.

Step 5: Create a timeline

Think about all of the tasks you’ve decided that need to get done, and create a timeline to get them done by. Then create an editorial calendar for when materials will be rolled out, plus where, how, and by whom.

Step 6: Go!

Launch your plan! Create your materials, and follow your timeline and editorial calendar. You may need to adjust as you go, and that’s fine. Encourage followers to share your posts and Ask questions to engage with followers.

cash and checkbook for donation

Step 7: Measure

How did you do? Make sure you’ve worked into your plan a way to measure your success. Is it the amount of money raised that day? The number of volunteers who signed up online that day? Is it increased social media followers or engagement? Press coverage for your organization? Increased website visitors (you can get a primer on Google Analytics here)? Or some other trackable metric?


Whether you go big or small, #GivingTuesday offers an opportunity to ride the wave of online action that day. It has amplified philanthropic donations overall, and is the single largest day for philanthropic giving in the world. While year-end donations are still the highest, they roll in over an entire month. Moreover, #GivingTuesday donations have increased 500% since its creation in 2012. It’s a useful tool that you can use as much or as little as you want, but will provide benefits to whatever degree you wield it.


Natalie B.

Headshot of Natalie Bennon

Natalie Bennon is a nonprofit communications and marketing consultant for AmDee LLC and other clients nationwide.