Lessons From Giving Tuesday 2021

Notably re-quotable

“...it’s been demonstrated again and again that the most valuable customers [i.e., donors] are the loyal ones. While your promotional team [i.e., everything you do to acquire new donors: events, appeals, Giving Tuesday, social media posts] is out there making noise to get you new customers, you’d be much better off turning your existing customers into repeat customers and ambassadors [which you do via your extraordinary thanks and eye-opening, donor-loving reports].” ~ Seth Godin, with interpolations by me in red. I say I’ve had 500 mentors ... and that’s probably an underestimate. Seth is the best of them. He’s a diamond mine of daily insights. Meet him and his free blog.

2 lessons I learned from Giving Tuesday 2021

What my inbox revealed...

Ask Attack!

Biggest missed opportunity I saw?
Very few “day after” emails...

Well, it’s that time of year again: the season of giving.

So, here’s my gift to you: An e-news devoted to Giving Tuesday AFTER Giving Tuesday has passed.

A few ungrateful readers might fluster: “Thanks for nothing, Tom! Giving Tuesday is the last thing I want to read about — for at least 11 months!”

Agreed. Me, too: it’s the last thing I want to write about.

Which is why, while it seems like I’m writing about Giving Tuesday 2021, I’m actually writing about something much bigger: how we communicate with our supporter “tribes.”*



My numbers

On Monday, November 29, 2021, the “Day Before,” my in-box welcomed 20 emails prepping me for the wonder that would be Giving Tuesday. They were mostly wake-up calls, with subject lines like #GivingTuesday is TOMORROW.

My fave? #GivingZOODay 2021 is almost here!

On the “Day Of,” November 30 — Giving Tuesday itself — 96 solicitations battered my in-box. That “ask rate” equals 12 solicitations per hour (assuming I’m logging an 8-hour day). Drive any sane person crazy, right? It was an amazing Ask Attack ... Ask-Alanche ... Ask Stampede ... all unleashed on the charitably-inclined in just one day.

You could probably see Giving Tuesday 2021 from space.

On Wednesday, the day after, my weary-but-not-broken in-box saw 2 “match extended” emails ... and a mere 8 thanks.

And that’s when at least two useful lessons were learned:

1. Giving Tuesday, by its lonesome, is just a gimmick: “a trick or device intended to attract attention, publicity, or business.” Don’t get me wrong: as a marketer, I duly respect gimmicks. They’re useful. They’re in my quiver. But here-today, gone-tomorrow fundraising gimmicks are emotionally shallow. At least tell me you missed me if I didn’t respond on Giving Tuesday!

2. The day after Giving Tuesday, most of the charities harassing my in-box vanished. They did not try to “friend-raise.”** They clapped the dust from their hands and moved on. But a few did not. And some of these I know well, as fundraising powerhouses, ever innovating, ever growing. Among the day-after champs in my in-box: Nashville Rescue Mission, Crisis Aid International, Sole Hope, Ascentria, the Piu Tak Christian School in Chicago.




How much was given

On Giving Tuesday 2021, I responded favorably to just one charity: Providence Student Union [PSU]. Simone Joyaux would have approved, I know, because she introduced me to them.

We like everything about them.

They’re small and feisty. They define grassroots at its best. They’re a prize-winning documentary film waiting to be made. We like them because [to quote their website] “Providence Student Union is Youth-led and adult staff serve an important role in advising, training, and supporting all of our members.” We like them because they raise holy hell in a Catholic state re: Rhode Island’s chronically under-performing urban schools.

For land’s sake! > PSU sued the governor in 2018, insisting that civics (i.e., democracy 101) be re-introduced to the standard curriculum. Wowzer!!!

We like PSU because they persevere ... and sometimes, even, they win. Donors like persevering causes who sometimes win (just saying).

[Below] Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore has worked hard to make Giving Tuesday a huge success. Promotions begin weeks in advance. Donors are celebrated.



* “A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.” Seth Godin, Tribes

** friend-raising, a term learned from one of my chief mentors, Carol Golden. Friend-raising is what you do PRIOR TO fundraising.

Finally, from a winner: A positive book about boards

HERE. It’s not that Hardy Smith is easily gulled. It’s just that he’s survived a long career of working successfully with boards ranging from crazy to superb. And now he's written a book about all that, to help you move beyond your next dust-up. Must own?

What are the long-term effects of Covid-19 on fundraising?

HERE. Mark Phillips has announced an important new Bluefrog report. “Since March 2020, we have concentrated on uncovering exactly how the pandemic has impacted giving (and helping) behaviours [in the UK]. We have now turned our attention to trying to unpick what the lasting impact of the pandemic will have on giving to charity and making some suggestions about what this means for fundraisers as they plan for 2022 and beyond.” And if you’re not fundraising in the UK? Read it anyway. It’s chock-full of insights into donors and where they are right now. The headlines: Public generosity is still very high ... Many people made significant savings over the course of the pandemic ... People don’t like uncertainty ... The survival instinct works in a variety of ways ... People only have a certain amount of emotional bandwidth ... People enjoyed being part of the challenge ... Refocus your communications to answer the needs of your donors.

Comic-book superhero storytelling is ideal for your fundraising, too

HERE. Lovely article by the scrumptious Joe Waters, THE master of Cause Marketing. As in comics, there are 4 things every fundraising story needs: Monsters, Romance, Superheroes and Topicality.

Start a conversation with anyone

HERE. The challenges faced by major gift officers came to mind when I ran across this post, titled “65 Random Questions to Ask - Start a Conversation With Anyone.” It’s a guest post by Brightful, on Bob Tiede’s Leading With Questions email newsletter (super-worthwhile & FREE). As I began reading, though, I realized this list is useful to ANYONE ALL the time ~ esp. to shrinking violets (my hand's raised). Some ?s are off-the-wall: “What’s the strangest thing in your refrigerator?” Some ?s pierce the heart: “How would you want to be remembered?”

Can’t get enough? Visit this page on Simone Joyaux’s “Learning Center. Download her mind-busting PDF, one that launched hundreds of successful fundraisers over the years: “Conversation is a Core Business Practice.