GivingTuesday.Before you get all wound up, let me say that the concept of promoting a day to give back is awesome. Our culture is so focused on consumerism – buying stuff we don’t need – that to have time to reflect on what we’re doing to give back is a good thing.
But what’s happened with “GivingTuesday” for the non-profit world is that it’s essentially turned into an event. And as you know from reading this blog, Richard and I feel that 99% of events are a waste of time, energy, and resources. They don’t do much toward building relationships with donors.
While the intention of “GivingTuesday” is noble, the practical application of it is diverting the attention of many non-profits away from developing relationships with donors.
I’ve talked to scores of development directors and MGOs who are “required” to do something with “GivingTuesday.” Here’s a story of how this has morphed into a thing that every non-profit feels they have to participate in.
A development director has a strategy developed for the year – a particularly robust one for the last quarter of the year. She knows this is when most of the revenue is going to come in. She’s worked out a combination of solid direct-response fundraising, work with mid-level donors, and she has her major gift team really working their individual donor plans and solicitations.
Her CEO or ED calls her in the office and asks, “What are we doing for ‘GivingTuesday’ this year? I was out with other non-profit colleagues, and everyone has something going on for it. We have to do something, too!”
And this is how it starts. Now the fundraising staff is focusing on a day of giving instead of working the plans they had in place to develop donor relationships. It’s what happens when non-profits start doing events. The focus is now on putting on the event, not on the donor.
So going back to the development directors I’ve been talking with: they’re frustrated because (unless you’re a substantial non-profit with a sizable brand in the market) the revenue from “GivingTuesday” isn’t that great. So the time they have to spend on this one day compared to the revenue in return is terrible.
And here’s the other thing. We’re asking donors to make a transactional gift. “Give to us, because it’s ‘GivingTuesday’… oh, and we have a matching grant for anyone who gives on ‘GivingTuesday’ – we’ll double your gift.”
What does that gift have to do with alleviating suffering, or helping our planet?
Not much.
And how does “GivingTuesday” help you understand your donor’s true passions and interests?
It doesn’t. We’re asking donors to give because we made up a day for them to do it – not because there’s a deep connection to the organization’s mission and its work to address a real need.
Non-profits don’t need another event for donors to make transactional gifts. We need more attention focused on helping our donors find joy in their giving through the good work you’re doing every day to make the world a better place. And that means talking to donors, finding out who they are, and inspiring them.
I’d like to see “GivingTuesday” changed to Gratitude Tuesday. Let’s have a day of reflection on what we’re grateful for and how we might give back to the world – instead of asking donors to “click here and give before midnight tonight.” (Tweet it!)
Then we can go back to actually working the plans that are helping us develop authentic relationships with our donors.