I have serious concerns about #GivingTuesday. Recently, the Context with Lorna Dueck Canadian television show invited me to share some of those concerns. My interview begins at about the eight-minute mark.
I have many issues with #GivingTuesday.
Nevertheless, I continue to hope it will ultimately prove worthwhile for the entire nonprofit sector. Time will tell. Meanwhile, I want to make sure you do not commit a serious #GivingTuesday mistake that can hurt your organization.
If #GivingTuesday attracts new supporters and successfully inspires increased contributions from current donors, you can’t just operate as you normally would and expect to retain such support. Business-as-usual would be a big mistake. You need to do more to retain support.
We have Black Friday immediately following Thanksgiving. We also have Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Thanks to the folks at New York’s 92nd Street Y, we now have #GivingTuesday. The 92nd Street Y served as the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday. Early on, the United Nations Foundation joined as a partner, bringing its strategic and communications expertise to the project. #GivingTuesday has now attracted participants from around the world.
To be worthwhile, #GivingTuesday will need to encourage:
- more people to give,
- more people to give more often,
- and more people to give more.
In other words, to be good for the entire charity sector, #GivingTuesday must significantly increase the philanthropic pie. Helping some organizations do better at the expense of others is not a beneficial outcome for the entire nonprofit sector.
Unfortunately, most nonprofit organizations are poorly equipped or motivated to do what is necessary to secure gains made through #GivingTuesday. While charities might be able and willing to leverage #GivingTuesday promotions to attract new donors, those same charities are doing little to ensure those donors continue their support. Sadly, it’s not a problem unique to #GivingTuesday donors.
In the USA, donor retention is a real problem. Seven years ago, the average donor-retention rate was just 50 percent. While that’s not good, the retention rate has become far worse, falling to 39 percent!
In Canada, the pool of philanthropists relative to total tax filers has fallen in recent years, from 30 percent to 23 percent. In other words, the donor-pie is shrinking, rather than growing, relative to the total population of tax filers.
If your organization has participated in #GivingTuesday, I hope you have developed a creative strategy for engaging and cultivating all new and increased donors. By properly stewarding these individuals, you just might be able to hang on to them. If not, what’s the point of investing in #GivingTuesday?
So, are you doing anything special to retain your #GivingTuesday supporters as well as your other donors? At the very least, I hope you: