Tips for Making the Most of GivingTuesday 2020

Membership, #GivingTuesday, COVID-19

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More than any year in recent memory, GivingTuesday 2020 is taking place amidst historic and unsettling events: the pandemic, the U.S. elections, a racial justice reckoning, a recession, extreme weather, and more. Even as the world seems upside down, remember that generosity unites us, especially in tough times. In 2020, generosity has been one of the key ways that people have expressed their power, providing an antidote to isolation, fear, and division. 

On GivingTuesday, generous people look for causes that matter to them, and you want to help them understand why your station is central to their lives, particularly this year. Never has relevant, factual information from trusted sources been more vital. Public media stations are information first responders, on the front lines of facts, and critical local resources.

As you think about ways to connect with your community, there are a few core truths that are at the heart of successful GivingTuesday campaigns, as well as to the long-term resilience of stations.

Generous People Are Generous

This year, giving is actually up as people are looking for ways to help others and make a difference in their communities. We see no evidence of donor fatigue. To the contrary, the same person who advocates on behalf of a cause, volunteers, or responds to a GoFundMe for a friend’s cat who needs surgery is the same person who will likely give to your station.

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Station Results From the May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow Event

Membership, pledge drive, #GivingTuesday, COVID-19

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Facing a disrupted spring fundraising season, many public media stations around the country participated in the May 5 special international campaign organized by GivingTuesday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: #GivingTuesdayNow. In a survey of Greater Public member stations, we found that 86% of them participated in the event. Most of the 14% who did not participate didn’t believe the day fit their strategy.

The setting for the day was anything but promising: stations were shifting or cancelling on-air drives, personnel were scattered by work-from-home rules, and audience members were reeling from a relentless daily flow of news about the devastating health and economic consequences of a pandemic. But the special campaign was driven by three elements: 

  1. A near-universal sense of shared purpose
  2. A deep gratitude for the work of community groups including public media
  3. A desire to take some sort of action in response to the helplessness felt by so many stuck at home

The number of stations reporting strong results on May 5 far exceeded the number of those that did not, and a scan of some examples paints a picture of how to succeed in fundraising in the middle of the biggest disruption the nation has faced since the last world war.

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How Public Media Stations Can Participate in the May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow Event

Membership, #GivingTuesday, online giving, COVID-19

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GivingTuesday, the organization behind the annual #GivingTuesday event that follows Thanksgiving and Black Friday, recently announced plans to generate support for #GivingTuesdayNow, a “day of global action for giving and unity in response to COVID-19.” The event will happen on May 5, 2020. 

Representatives from GivingTuesday recently came together with more than 200 public media fundraising professionals to consider the unique ways in which our industry could engage audiences during #GivingTuesdayNow.

Here are examples of what some stations are planning during the May 5 event:

  1. Some stations will run giving campaigns that fall on or include May 5. On that day they’ll emphasize service-oriented match incentives, such as the donation of a meal to a local food bank for every contribution made.

  2. One news station will conduct their own short fundraising campaign to support news coverage from Sunday, May 3, World Press Freedom Day, through May 5. Their call to give will emphasize #GivingTuesdayNow’s call to take action. They will also urge audiences to share content from stations and NPR on this day.
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Increase Year-End Giving With a High-Performance #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday, calendar year-end

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Data and recommendations provided by Jamie McDonald, advisor to #GivingTuesday and founder of Generosity Inc.

Since its inception in 2012, #GivingTuesday has grown to be one of the largest one-day generosity movements in the world. It’s now one of only three days during the year when donors actively look for a nonprofit they can support. The other two days are December 30 and 31. Of course the rest of the year, we’re going after donors to support us. 

There’s also evidence that simply participating in #GivingTuesday boosts year-end giving overall. Fundraisers used to be concerned that this post-Thanksgiving event displaced dollars from donors’ year-end gifts, simply moving them earlier in the year. But #GivingTuesday data shows that using the event to launch year-end giving leads to greater fundraising success during the month of December.

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Your Email and Social Media Action Plan for #GivingTuesday

Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end

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Launched by New York’s 92nd Street Y in 2012, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media. It always falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving; this year that's November 27, 2018.

It's essential to prepare in advance in order to execute a successful #GivingTuesday campaign. Start promoting on-air and online at least three weeks before the event. Make sure your landing page, email, and social media tactics are in place. And on November 27, here's what you should have in place in order to harness the growing levels of giving that occur on this day.


Send a minimum of two emails on #GivingTuesday that include a #GivingTuesday header graphic (600 x 200 pixels). The first email should be sent in the morning announcing “It’s #GivingTuesday!” and the second in the afternoon for announcing that your station has reached XX% of its fundraising goal. Also, in the morning, send an email your ambassadors to call them to action and to express gratitude for their participation.

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Secrets to WETA’s Record-Breaking Year-End Email Campaign

Membership, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end, email

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It’s not uncommon for a station to generate about 30% of its annual fundraising between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. But does your email during that period generate 60% of your annual email revenue? In 2017, WETA’s year-end email campaign did just that.

WETA’s 19 calendar-year-end email appeals generated 60% of all email revenue for 2017. The station saw a four-year 142% rise in CYE revenue that resulted from a comprehensive strategy beginning with Giving Tuesday and running through December 31.

Consider the following three recommendations that could significantly amplify the results of your own year-end email campaigns:

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Pull In Your Best Year-End Giving in a Time of Tax Reform

Membership, Major Giving, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end, planned giving, Year End Giving

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by Melanie Coulson, Jay Clayton, and Jennifer Fusco

The holidays are a time for giving gifts to family and friends… and to nonprofit organizations. In fact, more money is donated during November and December than in other months. The numbers vary by survey, but nonprofits report anywhere from 30-50% of giving occurs during the holiday season.

Both the House of Representatives and Senate tax-reform bills that are being reconciled in conference committee will likely significantly change the way tax law governs charitable giving. There is speculation about how this would affect charitable giving overall. Once the law is finalized, we will provide comprehensive advice on how to approach this situation. 

For now we recommend that you stay focused on the current tax deductibility of gifts and avoid speculative pitches or language when talking to donors. As with other legislative actions and threats, keep it simple and stick to the facts.

These six points will help you make the most of this vital year-end fundraising opportunity.

1. Be weekend-ready.

December 31st falls on Sunday this year. Prepare to accept gifts from your listeners on Saturday, December 30th and Sunday, December 31st. Make sure your shop is up and running in the same way it would be were these two critical fundraising days to fall on weekdays. Remind your listeners that you will be available to them even on the final weekend of the year.

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Six Things to Do to Tap the Growing #GivingTuesday Donor Base

Membership, Social/Mobile, #GivingTuesday

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Launched in 2011, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media; the event always falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. In 2016, more than 1.6 million people worldwide donated on #GivingTuesday, the highest number since its inception. In the future, #GivingTuesday is expected to raise more funds for organizations of all types all over the world as its popularity grows with donors.

For public media to be successful on #GivingTuesday, your station’s campaign should be ready for on-air and online promotion at least three weeks before #GivingTuesday.

1. Create a #GivingTuesday landing page.

The first step is to create a visually-compelling #GivingTuesday landing page on your website that you can promote in email and on social media. It should also have a URL that is easy to verbalize in on-air promotions, such as Be sure to prominently feature the date of #GivingTuesday (November 28 in 2017), the #GivingTuesday hashtag, and a “Donate” button on your landing page and if you’d like to have your #GivingTuesday campaign focus on growing your monthly donor base, then include a “Donate Monthly” button as well.

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Eight Easy Ways to Finish Year-End Fundraising With a Bang

Benchmarks for Public Radio Fundraising, Membership, #GivingTuesday, Year End Giving

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By about mid-October, you should get your year-end giving efforts underway. American donors love giving at the end of the calendar year. Trust the data: 30% of all giving in 2015 occurred in December and of that 11% in the last three days!

Make the most of your year-end opportunities and close the year with champagne, fireworks, and a healthy revenue bump by following these eight steps to success:

1. Make a plan and share it.

Whether you use the latest project management software or the cat calendar tacked above your desk, your campaign success depends on making an integrated communications plan. Decide which elements you want to use, then map out the start date and frequency of those efforts. 

In addition to produced on-air spots, direct mail, and e-appeals, consider adding some of these pieces to your communications mix:

    • Goal trackers
    • Lightbox
    • Live on-air appeals
    • Challenges/matches
    • Special giveaways
    • Homepage takeover
    • Digital ads
    • Street marketing

Share your year-end plan broadly, so that everyone at your station, from traffic to programming to the front desk, feels like he or she is working towards a shared goal.

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5 Things Every Public Radio & TV Station Should Know About #GivingTuesday

Membership, social media, #GivingTuesday, calendar year-end

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#GivingTuesday this year will be on December 1, 2015 – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. Since its inception in 2012, it’s quickly become a nationwide effort to connect people’s spirit of giving directly to nonprofits during the holiday season. #GivingTuesday was originated by the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The event has harnessed the power of social media and now includes 30,000+ registered partners in 68 countries. Online donations on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving have increased 470% since 2012.

“The main attraction for me, and I hope other stations, is that #GivingTuesday is a thing in itself that we're just joining up with,” explained Jill Shepherd, director of membership at WBEZ. “Our main message for 2015 is (roughly): ‘Celebrate #GivingTuesday! WBEZ is a participating nonprofit, and you can help #ILGive and #GivingTuesday reach amazing fundraising goals by donating to WBEZ.’"

"That's an unusual message that doesn't apply at any other time of the year," she adds, "so I want to make sure we get the most out of it while we can. Plus, it's very community-based, so it leaves a lot of room for mission-type messaging, which is ideal early in the campaign/month.”

So is it too late to get in on the action? Yes and no. You can pull together some elements quickly, like e-appeals, on-air mentions and social media posts. But it's also worth executing a more strongly-planned effort. Give it a try and join a number of other stations that have now strategies to harness the generosity of donors and bring awareness to the service they provide in their communities.

Here are five things to get you started:


1. Make the Most of Resources at

The #GivingTuesday site lets you register your station, download graphics, obtain training, and access all of the information you need to have a successful campaign.

Since #GivingTuesday’s success has largely been online, your plan should focus on email and social media strategies. Public media does have the advantage of being on-air, so adding some spots on that day would be beneficial.

In 2014 Indiana Public Radio and WIPB-TV instituted their first #GivingTuesday campaign. They obtained permission to customize video from for their own TV and radio spots. They also heavily utilized the #GivingTuesday social media toolkit and planning guides. IPR raised $1,940 in donations for radio and $380 for TV. They were pleased with this as a start.

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2. Test a New Strategy

#GivingTuesday is an opportunity to try out some new tactics at your station. Ever heard of Thunderclap? It's a "crowdspeaking" platform through which users donate their social reach to help promote causes. Greater Public's social/mobile expert Heather Mansfield suggests trying this out, along with many other tools, when building a cause awareness day to benefit your station.

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