Outreach and Storytelling: Building a GivingTuesday Campaign

For nonprofits hoping to finish the year strong by connecting with new donors, GivingTuesday provides a unique opportunity. Coined the global day of giving back, GivingTuesday occurs once a year, on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, it falls on November 30, 2021. 

Since its inception in 2012, the holiday has gained momentum, inspiring collaborations, events, and becoming a global movement. In the 24 hours of the 2020 campaign, an estimated $2.74 billion was donated in the U.S. alone.

Creating your own GivingTuesday campaign allows you to reach a broad audience and tap into the enthusiasm and excitement around the holiday. People are looking to give. You and your team just need to find the right way to reach them. Here, find tips to build a winning strategy. 

How to build your outreach strategy 

GivingTuesday is a great opportunity to connect with new donors, and nudge your existing funders to dig a little deeper. Here’s how.

Make a plan

The last thing you want is to be scrambling on the day of the event. Give yourself some time to craft a clear plan. For 2021, that means asking yourself right now: What will your campaign be focused on? Will you be asking donors to support specific projects or programs? Clarifying this up front will help you craft the language around your promotion. 

Set timelines so that you can promote your campaign in the days leading up to GivingTuesday. You’ll also want to determine who on your team will do what, so you have all your bases covered.

Set goals

What are you trying to achieve with your campaign? Is there a dollar amount you want to reach? A number of new donors you want to connect with? A project you want to fund? A clear goal will direct your efforts and help you determine whether you’ve been successful. 

Make your goals part of your messaging. Let people know what you’re trying to achieve and why. Tying the donations you receive to services and programs you provide is a powerful way to communicate impact and inspire generosity. For example, NourishNC, a nonprofit that tackles childhood hunger in eastern North Carolina, gives donors options to provide a “Thanksgiving dinner for a child” or “nourish a child for a weekend” rather than simply requesting a dollar amount. 

You can also include a commitment to celebrate in some way if you reach your goals. It could be something fun or silly, like the principal who promised to shave off his signature mustache if his students hit their fundraising goal. Or it could be more mission-focused, like an event that serves the community. 

Provide multiple opportunities for folks to get involved

Monetary donations are great, but if you don’t create other avenues for giving, you’ll be missing out on a whole subset of donors. Surveys have shown that 72% of GivingTuesday participants take part by giving time or donating goods

Consider setting up a volunteer event that encourages people to get engaged. You could also host a drive for things like food, clothing, or school supplies. Not only will you connect with more folks, but this level of personal engagement helps inspire long-term relationships with donors rather than one-time gifts. 

Auctions or raffles are another way to boost interest. This gives local businesses the chance to donate goods and services while also making the giving process more fun for the people who bid. 

Get creative about reaching your audience

You want to feature your campaign in your regular marketing channels such as email, newsletter, and social media. You can also reach out to local media outlets to see if they’ll feature your event in their coverage. 

If you’re looking for fun, interesting ideas, it’s easy to find plenty of great examples of creative GivingTuesday campaigns—from unselfies to friendly competitions to celebrity cameos, there’s lots of ways to spice up your approach.

Don’t forget about the power of word of mouth. Encourage your board to get involved and reach out to their networks to spread the word. Consider using a GivingTuesday matching funds program to boost your impact. You can connect with local businesses or wealthy donors to match gifts up to a certain amount. It’s a win-win; the donors behind the matching program get a unique marketing opportunity and your cause receives double the support. A match can also help motivate some donors who are incentivized to see their dollars go further. 

Share stories about your work

Donors want to know what kind of kind of work they are supporting. Get specific about what your organization does. Highlight stories from past projects and get feedback from community members, if you can. Using personal accounts to show the impact of your programs is a great way to engage potential donors. 

Combining personal narratives with metrics will help you paint a full picture of your work. For example, DREAM’s Year in Review report provides some inspiration, showing how you can weave together quantitative and qualitative data for a rich portrait of how an organization makes a meaningful difference. 

Learn how to use data in your storytelling

Watch our webinar on on how to bring your data to life.

Keep the connections going

Though GivingTuesday happens only once a year, the connections you make can inspire long-term relationships with donors. Make an effort to reach out to everyone who donated money, time, goods, or services with a thank you message. You can also follow up with updates about how the donations helped power specific projects and outcomes from that work. 

Hopefully, your campaign helped you to grow your network and raise awareness about the work you do. Keep the momentum going by offering more opportunities for folks to get involved. If you hosted a volunteer event or drive, consider if there’s a way to do this on a more regular basis. 

6 ways Submittable powers your GivingTuesday campaign 

Streamlined processes

Submittable eases the administrative burden on your team. Whether you’re in grant management, administering relief funds, or running another social impact program, you save time with our streamlined processes. 

When you and your team aren’t mired in administrative tasks, you have the bandwidth to get creative with your GivingTuesday campaign. Using our platform gives you the time to connect with the community, build relationships with local businesses, and get serious about promoting your organization. 

An open line of communication

Featuring personal stories is a great way to connect with potential donors. When you want to reach out to your program beneficiaries, you don’t want to be starting from scratch. With Submittable you’ve already established that open line of communication. Our in-app messaging allows you to see past correspondence along with application materials, progress reports, surveys, and more. This keeps you from wasting time digging through your inbox or asking questions that you already have the answer to. 

Reaching out is easy. With Submittable you can give folks the option to share their stories via text, images, video, or audio. Not everyone expresses themselves best in writing—allowing a variety of file types increases the odds that you’ll get a response. Plus, having videos and photos gives you more interesting content to share as part of your outreach.  

Submittable allows uploads in a variety of file types so you can collect testimonials in writing, audio, video, images, and more.

Dynamic impact reports

To tell the story of your impact in a compelling way, you want to be able to easily explore the data from your program. Submittable’s Impact Reports allow you to understand the effect of your work using both quantitative and qualitative data. For example, if you are awarding grants, knowing the total number of individuals ultimately impacted is as important as hearing how they felt about the program. 

With graphs and charts automatically generated right in the platform, Submittable ensures you don’t have to export data and go through the hassle of building visualizations yourself. Instead, with a couple clicks, you can have powerful graphics alongside narrative responses. These are great to highlight in your giving campaign. 

Submittable’s Impact Reports give you visual breakdowns of your data that you can share as part of your campaign.

One portal for your whole team

Whether you’re waiting on testimonials from past program participants or downloading impact reports, you want all your team members to be able to access the files and information they need. With Submittable, everything is organized in one place. Nothing gets lost in an inbox or disappears if a team member leaves the organization. 

When it’s time to launch your GivingTuesday campaign, your whole team will know where to go to get the stories, reports, and stats they need—whether they’re the ones running social media, sending email newsletters, building the website, managing relationships with local businesses, or connecting with existing donors. 

An easy interface 

The last thing you want is to run a successful GivingTuesday campaign and then struggle to deliver for the community. Submittable empowers you to build forms easily and quickly so you can get your programs up and running fast. Plus the platform is a cinch for users. 

If you’re running a grant program, sponsoring events, or funding scholarships or fellowships, you want everyone to be able to apply for these opportunities. Submittable makes it simple with a straightforward interface that doesn’t require technical skill. Our forms are mobile-friendly which means the whole application can be completed on a mobile device. And our customer support is always ready to help. 

Digital funds distribution

When you’re looking to take the donations from your GivingTuesday campaign and deliver them to individuals and organizations, you don’t want a big lag time or a complicated process. You want to use the money you raise to make an immediate impact. 

Submittable’s digital funds distribution allows you to deliver funds swiftly and securely. You can accept e-signatures and track payment in real time. Plus, going digital often shaves weeks off the process, getting money into the hands of the folks who need it now. 

Leveraging the right tools

To capitalize on the generosity inspired by GivingTuesday, you want your organization to be ready to move swiftly and get creative. By streamlining processes, supporting relationships within and outside your organization, and enabling you to tell the story of your impact, Submittable allows you to create an effective giving campaign and launch it quickly. 

Laura Steele

Laura Steele is a social impact writer and editor at Submittable focused on the world of grantmaking and corporate giving. Her work often explores the connection between technology, equity, and social good. She also writes fiction and nonfiction. You can read some of her stories and essays at laurapricesteele.com.