Should historic places seize the Giving Tuesday opportunity?

In the lead up to Giving Tuesday 2019 (December 3), staff members at the National Trust for Canada have gathered our thoughts on this giving phenomenon.

Should historic places seize the Giving Tuesday opportunity?

Should historic places seize the Giving Tuesday opportunity?

By now, most of us have heard of Giving Tuesday and we have likely become used to our inbox filling up with emails from our favourite charities asking us to give. It’s an exciting day for charities in Canada, but it’s also noisy. And, it leaves many of us in the charitable sector, especially at small organizations, wondering if it is worth it to step into the fray.

In the lead up to Giving Tuesday 2019 (December 3), staff members at the National Trust for Canada have gathered their thoughts on this giving phenomenon.

As a quick refresher, Giving Tuesday is a global movement that started in the United States in 2012 as a counterbalance to the shopping frenzy created by Black Friday. In Canada, in 2018, $15 million was donated to Canadian charities on Giving Tuesday alone.

Although there is a great deal of evidence to persuade one to seize the opportunity, it’s not a one-size fits all solution for historic places.

Our advice?

Don’t shift gears, unless you must. For some charities, it might be more strategic to make Giving Tuesday complement your fundraising plans.

Like most fundraising trends, it can be tempting to jump in feet first, simply because others are asking ‘why not?’ Remember, there is an opportunity cost to everything you do in fundraising, especially for small, volunteer-run historic places. If you pour your energy into a Giving Tuesday campaign, what other activity comes off your plate? It might be worth it, but it is worth pausing to consider the options.

You may already have a fundraising plan that is working for your organization. Maybe there are other days in the calendar or local events, when your time and energy are bearing fruit. Please don’t stop!

Instead, consider how you can work up to a more comprehensive Giving Tuesday event in the future or simply make it a milestone during your general year-end campaign. It doesn’t have to be a stand-alone event.

You might consider unveiling a matching gift on Giving Tuesday or kicking off your year-end campaign by announcing a fundraising goal with still plenty of time to reach that goal before the end of the calendar year.

Consider flexing your social media muscle each Giving Tuesday.

Harness the existing momentum of the Giving Tuesday movement on social media by reminding your followers that you accept donations. Remember, that you can’t send online donors to your website unless you have an online donation form. And, better yet, it should be a webpage that can be read on mobile devices. If your organization doesn’t have a dedicated donation webpage, you could consider linking your social media posts and your website to a Canada Helps webpage. There is a cost for each transaction, but it is free to set up and easy to use.

Don’t forget all the basics of good social media practice. Use photos or video to increase the potential reach and engagement and, use the hashtag #GivingTuesdayCa to expand your network.

Even if you have don’t have any plans to participate in Giving Tuesday, you can still put your best foot forward.

Use the lead-up to Giving Tuesday as an opportunity for some basic fundraising housekeeping. Test your donation page on your website (if your organization has its own) and make sure that the donation button is easy to see on your homepage.

Remember that some donors may come to you through Canada Helps (https://www.canadahelps.org/en/) or visit your profile on the Giving Tuesday website (https://givingtuesday.ca/). Consider updating these web pages with information about your historic place.

Finally, ask yourself if you are prepared to engage donors after their gift. Be ready with a prompt acknowledgement and consider personalized ways to say thank you. You may consider enlisting your volunteers to make phone calls or send hand-written thank you notes. Remember that your Giving Tuesday donor, like all contributors, is a potential life-long supporter for your historic place. Start building that relationship as soon as you can.