Generous Servings: Serving up resources for connection, reflection, and giving

Last Thanksgiving, our team gathered for a Worksgiving to kick off an impactful holiday season. This year, our celebration looks a bit different. With slices of pie in hand, we gathered for a Zoomsgiving, where we enjoyed good food and good company while discussing how we can make our impact in the remainder of 2020.

We know that we are not alone in changing how we celebrate Thanksgiving. Many across the country will be separated from families, friends, and loved ones this holiday season. On top of this, we are in the aftermath of a tumultuous election cycle, with political divisions adding to physical distance. How should we gather to celebrate a holiday based in gratitude and togetherness, when we have faced such a challenging and dividing year? 

While this Thanksgiving will undoubtedly be unique, the fundamentals of the holiday — a focus on gratitude and giving — are not forgotten. This year, we encourage you to dig deep into connection and community, even if doing so looks a bit different than before. 


At the center of Thanksgiving is the idea of giving thanks. After a challenging year, gratitude may feel more complicated than usual. Many have suffered extraordinary loss, and folks on both sides of the political aisle may feel disheartened by a shockingly close election. But reflecting on the past year can help you access gratitude. 

Make a gratitude journal or list with friends and family 

While there have been many major challenges, there likely remains much in your life to be thankful for. From loved ones you can virtually or in-person unite with, to animal friends, to nature, we hope that everyone will be able to find things they can be thankful for. Studies have found that writing down things you are grateful for improves your overall health and well-being. Ask your friends and family to join you in writing a gratitude list, and share with each other! 

Look for the helpers 

Fred Rogers once recalled, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” In times of strife, there are always those who are risking their own safety to help communities. Focusing on the frontline workers at the polls and hospitals, the essential workers in grocery stores and other businesses, and the organizations devoting themselves to making an impact can be a positive reflection tool. If you know any frontline workers, considering writing them a thank-you card. It will be a meaningful gift for both of you. 

Consider how you can work toward community success 

No matter how you felt about the outcomes of this year’s election, you are certain to have reflected on how you can help those in your community who need it most. Focus on this as you celebrate Thanksgiving, and develop a plan of action to work toward community success. This reflection can be the foundation for a consistent and powerful impact. 


Thanksgiving kicks off a season of giving. In fact, Giving Tuesday, celebrated on December 1 (the week after Thanksgiving), is a great time to find a cause that needs your help. On top of finding organizations to give to, you can come up with your own ideas to expand this giving:  

Donate food and goods 

This Thanksgiving, give the gift of good food, warm clothing, and more through a donation drive. Create your own donation drive with friends and family, or participate in a drive that is already set up by an organization in your community. Food banks in particular are overwhelmed this year due to increased needs from the coronavirus pandemic. Your donations of food and goods make more of a difference than ever; help your community by giving back during this holiday season. 

Create a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign

You may be separated from loved ones this Thanksgiving, but you can still come together to make a difference. Consider creating a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign with those you’d normally celebrate with to work together toward a shared goal. You may even be able to join a Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign and align your work toward a bigger goal! 

Volunteer to thank donors and volunteers with your favorite organization 

As the giving season approaches, organizations need help from enthusiastic volunteers who will help them show donors the impact of their work. Reach out to an organization you care about and see if you can help them write thank-you letters or make calls to donors, particularly during this busy season. You can also search for opportunities to help organizations by seeing any opportunities they already have listed


A few members of our team participated in a small, socially distanced gathering to safely celebrate together! 

At the end of the day, Thanksgiving is about connecting with friends, family, coworkers, and others in your community. Doing so safely will ensure that you keep your community safe, while also sharing your gratitude with those closest to you. Here are some ideas: 

Host a physically distanced Thanksgiving 

If the weather permits, host an outdoors, physically distanced Thanksgiving. Find a space large enough to host a small gathering. Make food that can be served in individually wrapped containers (for example, Thanksgiving sandwiches with layers of turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, or individual slices of pumpkin pie), wear warm clothes, and settle in for an outdoors Thanksgiving. For extra festivities, plan ahead and set up festive autumn decorations, or even bring an outdoor space heater if you’re celebrating somewhere cold! 

Stick to your bubble and make new traditions 

Some people are quarantining with one or a few close friends or family members. These bubbles can create new traditions from these smaller, more intimate gatherings. Whether it’s working together to bake extra pies and deliver them to friends and family within driving distance, finding a new recipe to test, or deciding as a group on an organization to give to for Giving Tuesday, there are many ways that you can use this smaller group to dig deep in gratitude. 

Connect for Zoomsgiving 

Zoom, Facetime, and other video conferencing platforms allow you to connect with those you may not otherwise have been able to celebrate with, even without COVID-19. Find a time to celebrate Zoomsgiving, or create an open Thanksgiving Zoom channel for extended family and friend to hop in and say hi for as brief or long a time as they can stay. Have everyone on the call cook the same recipe and see how they turned out, come up with prompts to reflect on the year and plan for the future, and take some time to be grateful for connections that span distances. 

From the whole team at GivePulse, have a happy Thanksgiving, and stay tuned for more reflection materials as we end the year! 

Giving Tuesday Virtual Volunteers and Fundraising

Every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, millions of people around the world come together to give back to the causes they care about by making donations and volunteering their time for Giving Tuesday, a global day of generosity. Giving Tuesday is an engagement opportunity that no organization, institution or community engagement program should miss out on, especially this year. 

While COVID-19 has affected nearly everyone’s lives and operations, studies show that your community still wants to make a difference by donating and engaging in virtual volunteer opportunities, and combining those two efforts can have long lasting positive outcomes. This Giving Tuesday, on December 1st, 2020, bring your community together by offering virtual volunteer and donation opportunities, or combine the two by engaging volunteers in peer to peer fundraising or other campaign related activities. 

Leverage our Giving Tuesday Toolkit as shown below to turn your Giving Tuesday into a virtual day of generosity that will engage donors and volunteers alike. 

Step 1: Create a Giving Tuesday Fundraising Campaign 

Creating a fundraising campaign ensures that your community members who want to give back have the opportunity to do so. We recommend setting a goal you think you can hit, enabling peer to peer fundraising, and incorporating a story with examples of impact, including a featured photo or video. If you have volunteer opportunities related to the fundraising campaign, include those on your page so people know they can make a difference in multiple ways. 

For more tips on running a successful fundraising campaign, see our Crowdfunding Goal Calculator, Campaign Communications Calendar Template, our previous blog post 7 Steps to Crowdfunding Success or watch our Crowdfunding Basics webinar

Step 2: Recruit Peer to Peer Fundraisers

Peer to peer (P2P) fundraisers are volunteers who will advocate for your cause and ask for donations from their network of friends, family and colleagues through a personal fundraising page connected to your campaign. P2P solicitations are usually more personal and more effective, allowing your organization to reach new donors. 

Here are some tips to help you successfully manage P2P fundraisers: 

  • Enable P2P fundraising when creating your campaign, which will reveal the “Help Fundraise” button on your page.
  • Send messages to your volunteers, event attendees or members directing them to create a campaign through the “Help Fundraise” button on your page. Treat this as another volunteer opportunity and communicate how their help will be essential to accomplish your organization’s goals.
  • Incentivize them by providing P2P fundraiser prizes as this group did on GivePulse! The leaderboard feature makes it easy to see who your top ranking group and individual P2P fundraisers are.
  • When thanking donors for their gift, customize your campaign’s thank you message with a link to sign up to be a P2P fundraiser so they can amplify the impact of their donation.

Visit our support page for more information on how to set up and manage P2P fundraising and tips for P2P fundraisers to create and manage their own campaigns

Step 3: Create Giving Tuesday Volunteer Opportunities

For volunteers who may not want to peer to peer fundraise, you can still include them in your Giving Tuesday campaign by asking them to help with campaign elements like making a video, doing graphic design, writing emails, sharing on social media or helping your organization write thank you cards. Having volunteers contribute their time and skills to fundraising campaigns makes them more likely to be a donor in the future just by coming in contact with your campaign.  

To get started, set up a GivePulse volunteer opportunity with different campaign activities as shifts. You can use shift settings to specify how many people you need and timeframes for each activity. You can also set up multi-step volunteer opportunities by using GivePulse’s new Project-Based Events feature.

Other Giving Tuesday Virtual Engagement Opportunities: 

  1. Promote Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

Looking to set up a virtual volunteer event for Giving Tuesday separate from a fundraising campaign? Here are some tips for setting your event as virtual and tagging it for COVID-19. 

  1. Find a Volunteer Fiscal Sponsor

GivePulse enables companies and organizations to match volunteer hours with dollar amounts. If your organization works with volunteers from a particular company or corporation, this could be a great opportunity for them to make their employee’s volunteer contributions go further. Contact us to learn more.

  1. Incorporate a Virtual Event

Incorporate a virtual event into your Giving Tuesday to celebrate your campaign, announce prize winners and drum up extra support! While creating your event, mark it as virtual and include the conference or livestream link to join. 

We know that there is an overlap between volunteers and donors and that your most engaged community members will give back in multiple ways, but it’s up to you to ask. Promoting virtual volunteer experiences and online fundraising opportunities this Giving Tuesday will keep supporters engaged from a distance, give your community the opportunity to contribute in new ways, and offer much needed support for your organization during this challenging time.

List your Giving Tuesday event on GivePulse today! 

This blog was a summary of a recent webinar, Fall Fundraising & the Second Wave of COVID-19. Watch the full webinar here

Interested in learning more about GivePulse’s donations features? Set up a fundraising overview meeting.

7 Steps for Crowdfunding Success

As we adjust to the new “normal” in the age of COVID-19, nonprofit and higher education fundraising teams are adjusting as well. Hosting an in-person gala, organizing a marathon or meeting face to face with donors are things of the past (for now), and organizations must find new ways to augment these usual fundraising methods. Nonprofit organizations and institutions across the country are now turning to a solution that has long been seen as a supplementary form of fundraising revenue or a once-a-year event – crowdfunding. With a little hard work, some simple math and the strength of a community, crowdfunding can be an incredible form of fundraising income for your organization or institution all year long. 

Here are 7 steps to make sure your next crowdfunding campaign is a success: 

1. Start early

Your crowdfunding campaign starts at least 1 month before your page officially “launches.” During the month leading up to your campaign launch, you will collect contact information for everyone you intend to solicit, segment your lists by audience, organize peer-to-peer fundraisers (see step 5) and start pre-soliciting your audiences by reaching out to those supporters you think are most likely support you, explaining your cause and asking if they’ll commit to making a gift when your page launches. This is also a great opportunity to recruit peer-to-peer fundraisers! Experts say you should have between 30-50% of the gifts you need to reach your goal committed BEFORE your campaign even starts. Crowdfunding campaigns are all about momentum, so ensuring that you can get to 50% of your goal early in your campaign will make you much more likely to succeed (see step 4 for goal setting strategies). 

2. Create a varied communication plan

Getting your communication plan worked out before your campaign starts is another great way to set yourself up for success before your campaign launches. Start with the basics, drafting as many emails and posts as possible with varied messages for different audiences, but know that you’ll also need to draft new posts and messages with updates as your campaign progresses. Just asking your donors to “give now” over and over will get old quickly, but focusing on individual stories and varying your content media with photos and videos will keep your donors engaged. Videos don’t have to be high tech. Especially in these times, taking a one-minute video on your phone is more acceptable than ever! Make sure to keep all communications concise. For emails, try to stick to the 3 paragraph rule and always have a clear path of action. That action should be to give, first and foremost, accompanied or followed by the ask to share your campaign with their personal networks. You should also draft email templates for your peer-to-peer fundraisers and be prepared to send out weekly communications to your fundraising team with weekly tasks for how they can help your campaign succeed. 

While mass emails and social media are extremely important to the success of your campaign because they keep your cause top of mind and tell your story, be aware that most gifts to crowdfunding campaigns come from peer-to-peer personal messages. Sending a personal message (via email, text or call) encourages a response on the recipient’s part, even if that response ends up being a no, whereas mass emails and social media posts allow your donor to feel anonymous and disconnected, leaving room to not take any action at all. 

Download our crowdfunding communications calendar template to start your plan now!

3. Use impact and time limitations in your messaging

When donors learn about your campaign, they’ll ask two questions:

  1. Why should I give?
  2. Why should I give NOW? 

Impact is the answer to “WHY should I give?” A time limit is the answer to “Why should I give NOW?”

Impact is a happy dog that got adopted after receiving a life-saving surgery. Impact is a student who was the first in their family to graduate from college because they received a scholarship. Impact is a volunteer testimonial describing their engagement in the community. Whether the cause you’re fundraising for is specific or general, find tangible examples of impact to show what a donation will help accomplish. If this is a new initiative without previous examples, describe the impact that donors will have in the future!

Time limitations can be an actual timeframe in which you need to receive the funds to accomplish what you’re trying to do or it can be a timeframe you impose superficially, meaning you don’t have a specific deadline or your deadline is abstract, but you set a campaign timeframe and use the urgency of your campaign ending to increase donations. Your message of urgency will only get more powerful as your campaign comes to an end, so use that to your advantage! 

4. Set a goal you can hit – then exceed it

When setting a goal, be sure that you do the math to ensure that your goal is realistic. People like to give to campaigns that are successful so by setting a realistic goal you can actually raise MORE than if you had set one that was out of reach. The factors you should consider are how many email addresses you have access to, the number of peer-to-peer fundraisers you have, your social media following, past fundraising experience from your audience and how many engaged volunteers and constituents you have. The goal calculation worksheet provided below is the best way to figure out a realistic goal for your next campaign. 

Reaching your goal is all about knowing how you’ll accomplish the “micro-goals” on the way, communicating effectively with your constituents, and expanding your network as much as possible by asking for others to share and promote your campaign. 

Once you’ve hit your goal, be prepared to set “stretch goals.” Donors won’t stop giving just because you hit 100%. In fact, once you hit your goal you’re likely to go over it because donors love giving to successful campaigns! Have an idea for what more you could accomplish with X more dollars and then be ready to set stretch goals incrementally.  

Download our goal calculation worksheet! 

5. Utilize peer-to-peer (p2p) fundraising

Crowdfunding is primarily peer-to-peer, meaning most donations will come from individuals who are giving because someone they know asked them to do so. The best way to expand your network of donors and receive more gifts is to utilize a peer-to-peer (p2p) fundraising tool that allows volunteers to create their own mini-campaign with a goal that goes toward your overarching campaign. From your goal setting exercise, you should know how many p2p fundraisers you need and what you need them to raise to reach your goal.

Peer-to-peer fundraisers can be anyone who has a close relationship with you, your organization or your cause. Some examples of great p2p fundraisers are your board members, staff, volunteers, past event attendees or friends and family of campaign leaders. If you use GivePulse for volunteer management or events, you already have a great database of potential p2p fundraisers at your fingertips! Treat this as you would any volunteer opportunity and invite your supporters to be p2p fundraisers for your cause. 

This fundraising campaign has enabled p2p fundraising. By clicking “+Help Fundraise”, donors can share this campaign to help your organization reach their fundraising goal, as shown below. 

For best results, you’ll want to manage your p2p fundraisers throughout the campaign. Send them at least 1 email per week with updates on your campaign and specific tasks that will help them ask for donations. Give them an array of options that allow for time or technological limitations, such as forwarding an email, sharing a social post or calling/texting 5 friends. Don’t be afraid to ask your p2p fundraisers to also make a donation to your campaign! It’s always easier to ask others to donate once you’ve made a gift yourself, no matter the size. To learn more about GivePulse’s peer-to-peer fundraising tools, click here.

6. Incorporate matches & challenges

The only thing more effective than a time constraint to incentivize giving is a match or a challenge. Funds for a match or challenge can come from many different sources. It can be a larger donation that the donor has agreed to let you use as a match, it can be a gift from a business or corporation that cares about your cause and wants some name promotion to your community, it could be pooled donations from your board members or community or it could be internal general use funds that your director designates as a match for a specific area of your organization.

Matches are very effective to make your donors feel like their gifts are going further. Dollar for dollar matches are the most popular method, but you can also match donations at 2x or 3x. If you’re worried about your match not going far enough because of its size, add a time limit or gift cap (example – all gifts up to $250 will be matched). You can also work with a local business or corporation to see if they will match all employees’ gifts to your campaign

Challenges work in a similar way to matches but can be easier to implement and allow you to get creative. The simplest method is to implement an “unlocking” challenge that unlocks a large gift for your campaign once you hit a certain threshold. If you’re fundraising for multiple areas of your university or organization, you can have time-limited challenges that award a prize to the area that receives the most gifts in that period. You can also do social media challenges, participation challenges, scavenger hunts, and more! 

Giveaways are a popular way to incentivize giving, especially when tiered based on giving level. Just be careful to only give away inexpensive or donated items and be sure that mailing those items and postage costs are feasible for your organization before promising anything to donors. 

7. Keep donors updated and engaged after your campaign ends!

It’s inevitable there will be potential donors that don’t complete the donation process. Provide these donors ample opportunities to engage in other ways, be it volunteering or registering for upcoming events. There will be opportunities in the future to re-engage them in other fundraising initiatives. 

For donors who have contributed, the end of your campaign is just the beginning of your relationship. After thanking them, you should continue to update them as you are able to accomplish the things they donated to help you do! Send photos, videos and stories of the impact! Invite them to engage with you in other ways like volunteering, receiving your newsletter or attending events. Leverage GivePulse to streamline donor communications. If you continue to share authentic stories of impact, you can convert them from one-time donors to forever donors. 

GivePulse is here to support you through all of these steps to help your next crowdfunding campaign succeed. From our gift matching capabilities and peer-to-peer fundraising features to our storytelling platform, we are here to help you create the most effective fundraising campaign possible.

Contact for more information. 

Want to learn more? Join us Tuesday, August 4 from 2-3 PM CT for our upcoming webinar on Crowdfunding Basics. 


Start your crowdfunding campaign on GivePulse today!