It comes up every year, and we just have to comment on it. It’s Giving Tuesday. Another event that someone created to raise money. Jeff wrote about it a year ago in this blog post. Read it.

Jeff made a couple important points:

  1. Giving Tuesday diverts attention away from developing relationships with donors.
  2. It focuses donors on a transaction and the money.

Well, the response was as we expected. Many fundraising professionals agreed with what Jeff said. Others strongly disagreed. Here are some comments we saw in support of Giving Tuesday:

  • If the organization implementing Giving Tuesday has it as part of a comprehensive annual digital plan, then it just leverages the storytelling and stewardship (which is good).”

    Our response: An interesting point, IF what surrounds and leads up to Giving Tuesday is communication and messaging to the donor that: (1) tells them how their giving is making a difference, (2) is personalized to the passions and interests and communication preferences of the donor, and that (3) focuses the relationship on the good that is being done by the donor, the problems or situations that are being addressed that the donor is interested in, and what is important to the organization is the donor’s interest and partnership, not the money. Unfortunately, events like Giving Tuesday don’t do that. Instead, all they do is pass the collection plate around to gather more coin.

  • What’s wrong with Giving Tuesday? It’s another way to get in front of your donors.”

    Our response: Yes, some of the donors, but not many of them. And further, it focuses the relationship on the money and transactions, which will result in high donor and value attrition. An event like Giving Tuesday does not satisfy the inner motivations of most donors. Measure it in your organization and see that what I am saying is true.

  • Several donors and board members get very excited to participate on Giving Tuesday – could we ask them to do this on a different day? Sure, but the momentum would be gone and they might not have the same motivation.”

    Our response: Those donors and board members would get far more excited and participate at greater levels than what they do on Giving Tuesday if you uncovered and properly served their passions and interests. When this is done correctly, the economic return is far greater than any event like Giving Tuesday will deliver. Why? Because the donor is giving to a specific area that matches their passions and interests. And that is a very powerful motivator.

Don’t fall for all the promotions and offers swirling around these days with “easy” advice to “ask your monthly donors to upgrade their gifts” or “how to ask a lapsed donor to give again” or “ask a volunteer who has never donated to donate”. It’s all superficial transactional advice that will get you nowhere.

In fact, when the advice you’re getting from these “experts” is about who to talk to in your donor file, in order to get another gift, be careful. That advice, while good for segmentation, will not get you there unless your messaging to donors (1) matches what they care about, (2) proves that their past giving has actually done some quantifiable good (impact), and (3) gives them a compelling and believable offer that matches what they’re interested in.

It is so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of fundraising and forget the heart and purpose of it, which is to help donors make a difference on the planet.

In our opinion, Giving Tuesday does not offer the donor another way to make a difference on the planet. All it does is attempt to collect money. And that is a dead-end street.