Like it or dislike it #GivingTuesday is almost over for another year.

I say “almost” for two reasons. First, I’m writing this at 6:45pm EST Tuesday, so there’s still a few hours to go. Second, for purposes of improving 2018’s results there are some learnings from this year’s event.

As I write, #GivingTuesday claims to have raised online $177 million from 1.6 million donors in 98 countries around the globe. Every expert I talked to in the course of the day projected another year of double digit growth.

Early Tuesday morning, before the sun was up, I checked in with Steve MacLaughlinBlackbaud’s  VP of Data and Analytics and author of The Data Driven Nonprofit. (Incidentally, Steve’s book is a classic and you can see the Agitator’s review here).

Steve’s early morning prognostication was that 2017 #GivingTuesday would again set records despite this year’s repeated calls for disaster relief funds. In short, he expressed the firm belief that no data out there is showing any sign of the mythical ‘Donor Fatigue’.

Steve’s bullish beliefs must have rubbed off on Blackbaud’s C Suite because at 9:30 a.m. they were ringing the opening bell at the NASDQ exchange. A nice touch both in terms of promoting the company, but also of recognizing some of their clients like ShelterBox, World Vision, American Red Cross and Catholic Charities USA.
As Tuesday’s sun set I checked back with Steve. Here’s what he reported based on his review of $24 million in giving data:

  1. #GivingTuesday is on track to continue growing double-digits in 2017.
  2. Growth has been solid in terms of money raised online, volume of online donations, and number of orgs receiving gifts
  3. Donations made on mobile devices are also on track to grow compared to 2016.
  4. There is indeed no sign in the data of donor fatigue from recent disaster giving.

He also offered these random thoughts:

  • #GivingTuesday is now in its sixth year and the giving bubble hasn’t burst yet. There are some who love it. Some who hate it. But it does generate a tremendous amount of awareness about the sector – not to mention the money that it raises for charities.
  • The #GivingTuesday data would also suggest that it isn’t an invented occasion that’s dominated solely by the very large nonprofits. Their share of #GivingTuesday revenue continues to shrink and it’s medium-sized and smaller nonprofits raiser a greater share each year.[Emphasis added.]
  • #GivingTuesday is a real movement now. It’s over the five-year hump and is still growing.

Steve then went back to his data, but before hanging up he said—and every fundraiser participating in #GivingTuesday should paste this on the office fridge:

“ Moving forward the philanthropic sector and nonprofit leaders need to begin shifting the conversation away from counting how much was raised to looking at whether or not #GivingTuesday donors are retained, regained, and stewarded properly. We should stop counting and start measuring.”

Meanwhile…here at The Agitator we’ve been monitoring the river of #GivingTuesday emails and have these observations on two noticeable trends:

  • A Rising Sea of Sameness. Given the flood of appeals you’d hope there would be more differentiation, more enticement to a good story. Sadly, didn’t see much of either. Take a look at this sampling of Subject lines and you’ll see my point.


  • ‘Pre-Gaming’ as a Trend. Here at The Agitator we received 42 emails by Monday, the day before. All encouraged us to give before #GivingTuesday.

The first #Giving Tuesday email was sent on Nov. 14, two weeks before.

  • Boring, Trite Matching Pleas. We’ll deal with this abusive, poorly executed tactic in a special post next week. Suffice to say, in Grandma Craver’s words, “Enough is enough. Too much will make a dog sick.”

What did you notice or learn from #GivingTuesday?


This article was posted in: Communications, Copywriting / creative, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Fundraising philosophy/profession.
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