What is GivingTuesday?

By Katharine Bierce | November 26, 2019 | Fundraising, Nonprofit

GivingTuesday started in 2012 with the 92nd St YMCA in New York City in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. In July 2019, GivingTuesday became its own organization.

When is GivingTuesday?

The date of GivingTuesday changes every year, as it is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. In case you want to save the dates for the next few years of GivingTuesdays, here they are:

2019 date: December 3

2020 date: December 1

2021 date: November 30

2022 date: November 22

2023 date: November 23

Note: if you’re in marketing or fundraising at a nonprofit, you’ll probably want to start planning your GivingTuesday campaign in the summer or several months before, because the fall and winter fundraising season can be so hectic!

A happy family photo of holiday shopping

Why is GivingTuesday after Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is a major U.S. holiday on a Thursday where people spend time with their families. Americans often begin the Christmas holiday shopping season the next day, the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is known as “Black Friday” because it’s when many retailers go from being “in the red” (losing money) to “in the black” (profitable) because so many people go shopping. Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving, where online retailers promote their biggest discounts or deals of the year to entice shoppers to buy online.

In the middle of this consumer spending frenzy, you could ask: why all the focus on shopping and not on giving and being thankful for what you have? Good question! The GivingTuesday website says “it’s a grassroots movement for generosity.” There are over 200 local GivingTuesday movements happening in the United States and 60 country campaigns. In just seven years, the GivingTuesday movement has raised more than $1 billion online in the U.S. alone. United Way was a part of the first Giving Tuesday in 2012, as well.

Should my nonprofit participate in GivingTuesday?

It depends. Like any big fundraising campaign, getting results takes some planning, and it helps to have technology to help you get the word out.

Benefits of participating in GivingTuesday:

  • It’s useful for getting first-time donors involved
  • If you have the time to plan ahead a few months, you can take advantage of the momentum around holiday giving season
  • Especially for U.S. nonprofits, it will look out of place if you don’t have any mention of GivingTuesday on your website, even in some small way (i.e. don’t miss out)

Plan Your Giving Tuesday Campaign

How do you participate in GivingTuesday?

There is no cost to participate in GivingTuesday, except for the usual costs to operate a marketing or end-of-year fundraising campaign. The most important thing to consider is how to get new, potentially one-time donors from GivingTuesday, to become recurring donors. So take some time to set up your campaign plan, marketing automation, and social media strategy in advance. Salesforce.org has a Guide to GivingTuesday here.

Some useful things you can do on social media are:

  • Talk about giving, volunteering, and any kind of generosity using the hashtag #GivingTuesday on Twitter
  • See some example Facebook posts — facebook.com/GivingTuesday
  • Follow the GivingTuesday organization on TikTok— GivingTuesday
  • Post on Instagram — givingtuesday
  • Share on Snapchat — add/GivingTuesday
  • Share our social media channels in your organizational and personal social networks
  • Announce your participation in GivingTuesday to your networks and email lists
  • For donors – tell them to Use the #UNselfie hashtag on Twitter to talk about how you are giving and why (i.e. UNselfie = unselfish, i.e. not just a selfie photo)

GivingTuesday Ideas

Before you create a campaign, make sure that you take the time to set up your nonprofit marketing technology across channels. Keep in mind that GivingTuesday gets over 21.7 billion social media impressions, so there is a lot of noise out there: Donors get a lot of fundraising emails at this time, so you’re competing with other nonprofits for attention. That’s why it’s especially important to:

Want to move beyond one day of fundraising and motivate one-time donors to give monthly? Read this “mystery shopping” style research of recurring donations to 115 organizations, analyzing their websites, giving pages, and emails and more. Get your free copy of their detailed research today!

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Nonprofit Recurring Giving Benchmark Study


About the Author

Katharine Bierce Katharine Bierce manages the Salesforce.org blog and helps create research-based content at Salesforce.org. She is a lifetime member of Net Impact, a StartingBloc fellow, and has volunteered with TechSoup to produce “tech for good” events and content with the SFTech4Good Meetup (a NetSquared community) from 2014-2018. A self-described “full-stack human,” she is an avid meditator and yogi. When she’s not managing marketing content, you can find her teaching or taking yoga classes around the San Francisco bay area. Her favorite Sustainable Development Goal is #3: Good Health and Well-Being. Follow her on Twitter: @kbierce