Widely adopted in the US, billions raised worldwide, and a slow uptake in Australia. With the campaign happening this week, we take a look at results and share insights.

GivingTuesday takes place this week, so it’s an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on the results and learnings from the initiative, using Australian data and research from the US.

First, let’s understand the origins and mechanism of the campaign.

GivingTuesday – where it began and how it works

GivingTuesday was created in New York in 2012 as a simple idea: a day that encourages people to do good. It is now an independent nonprofit and a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity on one nominated day each year (30 November in 2021).

Participating organisations are encouraged to create special initiatives around the event and individuals are inspired to connect with their local GivingTuesday movement and give back in a number of ways, such as donating or volunteering.

The global impact of the initiative is indisputable. The event raised an incredible US$37.9 million in 2020, a huge increase on an already massive US$19.4 million in 2019.

That’s incredible! How were those results achieved?!

This month, US virtual fundraising platform, RallyUp released the findings from its first annual survey of 463 organisations (405 based in the US) that have participated in GivingTuesday, in a report called Best Practices for GivingTuesday. This is what the results tell us:

  • 59% of organisations surveyed said that the campaign is a significant part of their annual fundraising.
  • Underscoring just how valuable the day is for big and small fundraising organisations, 37% of nonprofits, 60% of corporate CSRs and 76% of individuals surveyed said 2021 would be their first year fundraising on GivingTuesday – suggesting that the event is still very relevant, successfully acquiring new participants in its ninth year.

Top fundraising, marketing and promotional tools

Among the many types of fundraising activities that have emerged during GivingTuesday over the years, 54% of surveyed organisations and individual fundraisers said raffles helped them raise the most funds, making them the most popular online fundraising tool (but in-person events still top the list of activities that have yielded the best fundraising results).

While fundraisers struggle to keep up with constant advances in digital marketing, many will be glad to know that some things never change: email still rules, with 76% of fundraisers pointing to email marketing as the most effective online fundraising tool. However, organic social media is nipping at its heels with 67% counting it among the most effective marketing tools.

When it comes to promotional efforts, peer to peer fundraising is also a huge driver of success, with a whopping 81% of survey respondents reporting that P2P is significant to their GivingTuesday efforts.

Pandemic impact indicates the future is hybrid

The global pandemic has dramatically affected fundraising and giving over the last two years. The survey showed that 49% of fundraisers have seen fewer volunteers while 50% have received smaller individual donations throughout the pandemic.

Despite the rise of virtual events, in-person events were still identified as netting the biggest fundraising results, according to 61% of fundraisers. That said, nearly one-third of surveyed organisations (31%) said they attracted more new donors with virtual events, while 63% said virtual events require less staff and volunteer time to organise. This data suggests the giving landscape will witness a steady rise in hybrid event adoption, not only for GivingTuesday but throughout 2022. Hybrid events leverage online and offline fundraising with a single effort that yields the benefits of both.

Lack of technology skills can be an obstacle to fundraising

More than two-thirds (67%) of survey takers said technology is an obstacle to their fundraising efforts. The top reasons being a lack of in-house technical skills (46%), followed by the time it takes to comparison shop technology tools (26%), poor donor experience (25%) and lastly, having too many programs to learn (23%).

Social media – what delivered the best results?

Facebook is by far the most used social media platform for fundraising efforts for GivingTuesday, preferred by 87% of surveyed organisations. Instagram is next at 49%, with Twitter and LinkedIn representing the next tier at 19% and 13%, respectively. For such a new platform, TikTok made a respectable showing at 5%, a figure that is likely to rise sharply over the coming year.

So that’s the US picture, what about Australia?

In 2020, 498 Australian organisations participated in a GivingTuesday survey, summarised in the Giving Tuesday Australia 2020 Campaign Report created by Our Community. The organisation acts as the country’s leader for the campaign.

Our Community provide a number of resources to help guide Australian nonprofits through the campaign, including ideas about how to engage volunteers, how to run a 24-hour fundraising campaign, how to secure gift matchers and how to use the day as an opportunity to thank supporters.

Of the organisations surveyed by Our Community in 2020, 22% experienced a rise in giving from new and existing donors as a result of the initiative, 19% witnessed more giving from existing donors and 33% saw a rise in giving from new donors. Encouraging results indeed.

What the 2020 Our Community insights tell us about the impact of GivingTuesday in Australia

Australian nonprofits first and foremost see GivingTuesday as a fundraising tool, with 68% of organisations saying they used it to raise money above all other activities:

Increasing social connection was the top cause/need targeted by nonprofits in 2020 when implementing their GivingTuesday activity, which won’t come as a surprise given the restrictions and lockdowns experienced throughout 2020.

There is room for improvement when it comes to the ease of participating (with only 52.6% of participants ranking the initiative high in terms of ease of participation), but a majority (57.9%) ranked GivingTuesday as 60 or higher (on a scale of 0 – 100 with 100 being extremely valuable) in terms of how valuable the initiative was to their organisation.

Innovation – this is where the campaign really shone in 2020. 65% of people said that GivingTuesday 2020 inspired innovative activities. Many comments focused on increased leverage and agility across social media, including the use of influencers, focusing on messages of giving thanks, and the development of a giving app. Corporate gift matching was also a successful new activity highlighted by several organisations, as shown in this testimonial:

“One of our corporate partners came on board to offer a matched giving opportunity of $24,000. We used this amount to go to our market to raise $24,000 in 24 hours.

“We have only tried matched giving once before, so this was still a test for us. We were already out in market for our Christmas campaign and used GivingTuesday as a way to commence December giving in a positive way. We sent two emails out to 13,000 people and two boosted Facebook social media posts.

“Our tag line was ‘Double your Impact this #GivingTuesday’. Within the 24 hours we had raised $15,000 – we then extended this out to 48 hours to finally reach our goal of $24,000.”

With the exception of these insights, information about the growth of GivingTuesday in Australia is sparse, and to date Our Community have not measured Australian fundraising totals; this is something they hope to track in the future. We are therefore dependent on data tracked by the GivingTuesday HQ in the US at this stage.

Opinions on the campaign’s effectiveness are also hard to come by on our shores, but they certainly vary wildly amongst our American friends:

Why Your Non-Profit Should Avoid #GivingTuesday Like the Plague

How Does Giving Tuesday Work?

Love It or Hate It, #GivingTuesday Has Become ‘A Thing’

On one side of the fence there’s the argument that you will be trying to fundraise on an incredibly cluttered and over-crowded day of fundraising, and that you may cannibalise your Christmas appeal. On the other side is the undeniable groundswell of momentum created by a global movement of giving.

Either way, it might be worth taking a look at the infographic below. Because the numbers are something to behold. In light of figures like this, ask yourself if you should at least dedicate a little time to considering the pros and cons of participating in this growing global event.

To read the full RallyUp report, click here.

To read the Our Community report, click here.

Check out this Classy blog post for winning GivingTuesday ideas.

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