Prepping for Giving Tuesday: How to Get Ready for the Most Philanthropic Day of the Year

Prepping for Giving Tuesday: How to Get Ready for the Most Philanthropic Day of the Year




September 30, 2020

Last modified: 

September 30, 2020

If you work in higher-education, you’re probably ramping up for Giving Tuesday, but if your organization is not already doing that, you better get started. If you’ve never heard of this day that’s filled with philanthropic spirit, no worries! Giving Tuesday, a day devoted to charitable giving, marks the beginning of the year-end giving season. It falls on the Tuesday directly after Thanksgiving and is one of the most highly-anticipated days of giving across the world.

This day alone brings in millions of dollars for higher education institutions, so it’s important to leverage it in your fundraising strategy. Specifically, the higher ed market stands to gain substantial sums of money from alumni and other major givers on this day.

This year, Giving Tuesday is in December, but it’s never too early to start prepping! To ensure your institution or organization reaches its maximum Giving Tuesday potential, do the following:

1. Create a reasonable timeline

2. Set aspirational goals

3. Communicate before, during, and after

4. Enable multiple donation platforms

5. Inquire about matching gifts

6. Rely on volunteer fundraisers

If you need a refresher on why the giving season is so important, visit this end-of-year fundraising guide.

Ready to have the best giving season ever? Let’s get started!

1. Create a Reasonable Timeline

As with any fundraising endeavor, your institution can’t wait until the last minute to plan. Otherwise, you’ll wind up with a chaotic mess that doesn’t come anywhere close to its potential.

While it may just be one day of the year, it’s the most important day of the year for fundraising. So treat it as such. Crafting your Giving Tuesday plan requires a lot of careful planning and communication.

Specifically, you’ll need to engage two main groups of people before the big day: your employees and your supporters (both current and potential). Before you can even conduct outreach, your team needs to be on the same page. That means fully planning your campaign by doing the following:

- Setting goals and timelines. Remember, this day kicks off end-of-year giving. Span your timeline over the course of giving season, with the biggest goals set on Giving Tuesday. Read on to learn about the types of goals you should set.

- Planning your outreach strategy. Before contacting any prospects, you should plan your strategy. This means planning your posts, emails, and so on and determining what they’ll say. For posts after Giving Tuesday, plan outlines for different types of end results. For instance, you should outline separate posts for meeting your goals, not quite reaching your goals, and exceeding your goals.

When you plan ahead and consider multiple campaign outcomes, you set your institution up for fundraising success!

2. Communicate goals with your team

Your Giving Tuesday ideas (get inspiration here!) might be more creative than any other campaign you’ve ever created, but creativity means nothing without communicated goals. You need to make sure that your entire team is on the same page so that everyone is working towards the same overarching goal. 

There are a number of goals you can set. For instance, your institution may set the following goals:

1. Financial goals

2. Total number of donors

3. Number of recurring donors

4. Number of new donors

5. Percentage of participating alumni

While these goals can be measured via metrics, there are others that don’t rely on numbers. While you should implement measurable goals, consider making qualitative objectives, too. For instance, maybe you want to provide donors with opportunities to actively engage with you. Perhaps you want to simply spread the word about your higher education organization. Regardless of the goals you choose, they should be aspirational but still attainable. That way, you don’t sell yourself short, but you don’t create goals that are impossible to reach, either.

3. Communicate before, during, and after

As you’ve learned, before even launching your campaign, you should communicate the goals and explain the fundraising strategies to your team. Once the campaign is fully planned, your employees will need to conduct outreach to both current and potential supporters. Outreach should continue throughout the entire campaign. Throughout your campaign, keep both your staff and supporters updated on the progress. That way, they know when they need to step up their efforts to reach your goals.

Remember, whatever goals you choose, your employees need to be on the same page. That means continuous communication. Otherwise, neither your employees nor your donors will have a solid understanding of what they’re trying to achieve. Then, once your campaign wraps up, thank your donors personally via email, so they feel valued. Additionally, use social media to announce the end totals in relation to your goal.

Your campaign isn’t over until you announce your end totals. Since the giving season continues over the course of the next several months, you shouldn’t wrap up quite yet. Instead, you should post an update once Giving Tuesday ends and say where your organization stands in relation to its total goal for the rest of the giving season.

4. Enable multiple donation platforms

Planning, communication, and aspirational goals mean nothing if your donors don’t have a way to give! To ensure that your college or university receives the most funds possible on Giving Tuesday, you’ll need to enable multiple donation platforms. You likely already have the basics set up, like an online donation page or direct mail giving. However, if you don’t enable other ways to give, you won’t make as much revenue as you possibly can.

To start, look at the types of donations you allow. In other words, don’t just allow credit and debit card donations. Allow cash donations, check donations, donor-advised fund gifts, foundation giving, and so on. Also, for those who have the affinity to give but not the capacity, provide volunteer opportunities for events. By encouraging the philanthropic spirit, you let them know their efforts are recognized. Then, if they ever acquire the funds to donate, they’ll be more likely to give! Text-to-give is also on the rise. Get creative with your ways to give. Don’t limit your donors! Multiple donation platforms shouldn’t exist only on Giving Tuesday. Rather, you should enable several platforms year-round to accommodate all donors. That way, you boost your fundraising potential!

5. Inquire about matching gifts

If you’re not already aware, corporate philanthropy has changed the fundraising game for all players in the nonprofit world. When an employee of a company with a matching gift program donates, the employer then matches that donation, so long as the donation meets the company’s criteria. In other words, eligible contributions might be doubled, or maybe even tripled depending on the program guidelines! Some major companies will even match the donations that your volunteers raise from their friends and family on your behalf! It’s all about locating those opportunities, so you don’t miss out on any revenue opportunities.

A good way to start the conversation about matching gifts is to create a dedicated matching gift page on your website. You can also add information about corporate giving on your Ways to Give page. From here, start devoting time to making matching gift appeals, such as direct mail, emails, social media posts, and so on. When valuable supporters learn their donations can be multiplied without reaching back into their own pockets, they’ll likely take an extra five minutes to fill out the necessary forms. As a higher education institution with a substantial donor base, you are undoubtedly missing out on major revenue opportunities. However, if you leverage dedicated software, you can pinpoint all of your matching gift opportunities.

Remember, Giving Tuesday produces substantial amounts of revenue for colleges and universities, so if you can multiply your donations through matching gifts, do it.

6. Rely on volunteer fundraisers

Just like corporate philanthropy, peer-to-peer fundraising is on the rise, too! Giving Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to reach out to your supporters to raise money on your behalf. Since your institution likely has more donors than the average organization, you stand to gain major revenue from volunteer fundraising.

If you’re unfamiliar with peer-to-peer fundraising, here’s how they typically work:

1. Your fundraising team sets goals and timelines like any other campaign

2. You choose a peer-to-peer fundraising platform

3. Your team recruits and trains your volunteers

4. Participants create personalized pages where they’ll fundraise for you

5. Volunteers share their pages and encourage friends and family to donate

Volunteer fundraising ensures that you’re reaching the widest possible audience. Instead of only reaching your current supporters, you’ll reach supporters’ friends and family, too! To kick off your peer-to-peer research, check out these six proven peer-to-peer fundraising strategies that bring success

Plus, you can incentivize participants to raise more with gamification tools. Gamification can mean anything from leaderboards to badges to fundraising thermometers.  Leaderboards show your participants those who have earned the most, and badges show up on participants’ profiles when they reach certain milestones. On the other hand, fundraising thermometers show overall financial progress toward your goal. There are several peer-to-peer fundraising platforms and tools on the market. Choose the ones that best align with your institution and its goals. That way, you enable your volunteer fundraisers to do the best campaigning possible!

The whole point of Giving Tuesday is to boost funds, but your institution can experience a number of other benefits, such as new donor acquisition and alumni engagement. The point is, the giving season represents a major opportunity for every organization in the nonprofit sector, including major schools. Remember, fully plan your campaign, set aspirational goals, and communicate effectively throughout the entire giving season. You should have multiple ways of giving, look for matching gift opportunities, and rely on your volunteers year-round. However, these strategies are especially important on Giving Tuesday. As always, remember to thank your supporters. Now, get out there, and plan for your institution’s best giving season ever!

About the author:

Adam Weinger

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form

Related Blog Posts


How to make the most of Giving Tuesday?

Get this GivingTuesday checklist for hosting a successful campaign for your school, college, or university in 2021. Boost alumni donations & drive peer-to-peer fundraising.


#GivingTuesday Infographic: Campaign Planning Tips

This #GivingTuesday, try out these proven strategies to help drive awareness and attract new donors to your nonprofit organizations.


5 Fundraising Tips for Fall Giving Day in 2023

As institutions across the country start preparing for their Fall Giving Day 2023 and Giving Tuesday campaigns, here are 5 fundraising strategies to help them engage donors and boost donations this year.

Best Practices

5 Fundraising ideas for your Virtual Homecoming

As schools and universities turn to host their 2020 Homecoming virtually, here are the top 5 best practices employed by Alumni Relations & Fundraising teams to maximize fundraising profit potential at their Virtual Homecoming this fall.


Why are Giving Days so important?

Giving Days have proven to be highly successful in boosting fundraising efforts. Learn how they can help you acquire new donors, enrich the giving experience, and instill a culture of giving in your constituents.


8 proven ideas for promoting Giving Days

The success of your Giving Day depends not only on planning but equally on its promotion. While there are many ways to promote Giving Days, in this blog post, we’re looking at the 7 most effective ones that have helped our customers achieve Giving Day success. 


7- Effective Online Giving Practices

Here are two main reasons why Online Giving is the best place to invest your time and talent.1. It is the hottest form of giving right now – Online giving in Education sector has risen by a staggering 12.3 % and 15 % in last two years.


6 email marketing ideas to drive participation towards your online giving campaigns

Find email marketing best practices to improve alumni engagement and boost fundraising for schools, colleges & universities.