The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sectors of our lives. Financial strains and an unprecedented transition to newfound forms of virtual and remote volunteering have combined to create a multifaceted burden on nonprofits. In light of these changes, GivePulse chose to partner with GivingTuesdayNow, an initiative that encourages communities to donate time, talent, and treasure to the organizations that need them most.
In doing so, we hope to elevate all the great community work that is happening. We know that asking for help right now can be difficult; we believe it is worthwhile to assess whether your organization feels it is appropriate to seek monetary donations at this time in your community. If not, perhaps a donations drive, volunteering campaign, or some other alternative will offer more approachable forms of giving.
Whatever you decide is an appropriate path for your organization to take this #GivingTuesdayNow, we hope that this guide will help you to communicate and plan effectively.
GivingTuesdayNow will take place on May 5, 2020, in addition to the regularly scheduled GivingTuesday on December 1, 2020. Created in response to urgent needs produced by COVID-19, GivingTuesdayNow promotes a concentrated generosity surge to help organizations when they need it most.
On GivingTuesdayNow, individuals can share their resources of any sort, whether that’s by donating money, volunteering virtually to share their time, fulfilling needs for an organization, or sharing a skill to complete a crucial project. In this way, GivingTuesdayNow encourages all communities to give as they are able, no matter what form this giving takes. As with virtual volunteer efforts, GivingTuesdayNow campaigns are strongest if they are built on transparency and connectedness. Below, you will find information about topics including:
- How to effectively communicate needs
- How to convert volunteers to donors
- How to use this opportunity to strengthen connections to your cause and to your organization
We also want to highlight a product enhancement that we hope organizations will benefit from this GivingTuesdayNow: in response to feedback from our network, our team has developed a new in-kind donations functionality, just in time for this day of generosity. Donation Drive events create a space for wishlists and in-kind donations, for everything from food to hand sanitizer to books for children. GivingTuesdayNow is about more than just financial support; it’s about generosity in all of its forms. Donation Drives can help you to request whatever your organization and your clients need most, in addition to (or as an alternative to) financial forms of giving. If you have any questions about Donation Drives, contact our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a call with our giving team.
In order to effectively drive donors and volunteers to your organization, you will want to find a compelling way to communicate your organization’s needs. Through conversations with our partners and through our own research, we have identified the following aspects as keys to successful communication:
If you are seeking monetary donations, recognize newfound burdens
Language that conveys your understanding of the financial instability of this time will show that you recognize that not everyone will be able to give, while doubling down on showing the need for donations from those who can. In fact, according to Fidelity Charity’s survey of regular givers, 54% of donors said that the amount that they would donate would not change in light of COVID-19 — and 25% said that they would donate more.
Diversify the digital resources you use
At a time when virtual stimuli can be particularly loud, using a variety of digital resources helps to ensure that everyone on your network will learn about your GivingTuesdayNow campaign, no matter their preferred mode of virtual communication. A few ways to diversify digital resources include creating a virtual countdown on both your website and your Instagram stories, sending email calendar invites from GivePulse registration and linking to the calendar event in your newsletter, posting more regularly on every social media platform, sending newsletters to volunteers and donors alike, and making sure to use the hashtag #GivingTuesdayNow to amplify your message.
Convey urgency through transparent communication of needs
Now is the time to be honest and explicit about your organization’s needs. Authenticity and transparency are more critical than ever to indicate how COVID-19 has altered your organization, and how investments of time, talent, and treasure now will strengthen your programs moving forward. Let folks know about loss of revenue, about depleted funds, about staff reductions and center closures. This vulnerability will underscore your understanding that these times are unprecedented, and will also authentically portray why GivingTuesdayNow is of the utmost importance.
Show the impact of donations
Explain how a donation will help your organization, in as much detail as possible.Tell the story of how funds and goods are used. Ask volunteers to send in reflections on how they have seen their programs impact the community, and share these stories through your social media and through newsletters. If you can, put a name and face to your donation requests. 65% of donors say that they would donate more if they knew the impact of their donations — the more transparent you are, the more volunteers and donors will choose to give if they can.
Set and track specific goals
Give donors something tangible to contribute toward. Set a specific target goal, and if possible, indicate why that target goal is pertinent. For example, if a certain amount of money allows your organization to feed a family, make your dollar goal correspond to the number of families fed. If you are running a donation drive, the same principle applies. Maybe you want to deliver one new book to every student your organization works with, and your organization works with 600 students. Set the target goal at 600 books and underscore that this means every student your organization works with will receive a new book. Donors can see that their donation corresponds directly to an individual student, and you can send regular updates throughout the day as you get closer and closer to your goal.
Converting volunteers to donors
From our Program Assessment Survey, we learned that about one out of every three organizations would consider using this time to convert volunteers to donors, but aren’t sure how to do so. While some programs might be concerned about asking those who already donate their time to shift this to a financial donation, statistics suggest that this is in fact a very common transition: according to data from the International AFP Conference, the average volunteer is four times as likely to donate as someone who doesn’t volunteer — and they typically give ten times as much! To encourage this transition, we suggest the following:
Relate donations to volunteering time shared
Whether or not your volunteers have been able to engage virtually with your organization, you can emphasize donating as analogous to their usual time shared. Indicate how donations directly impact their usual volunteer efforts. How much does it cost for supplies that your volunteers typically use? For the space that they work in? For the staff who train and work with them? Use your volunteers’ own experiences to display the value of their donations.
Encourage reflection and sharing of stories
Go even further in using volunteer experiences to display the value of donations: use the days leading up to your GivingTuesdayNow campaign to ask volunteers to share stories and anecdotes about their volunteer experiences. This will both provide content that you can share to your volunteer and donor networks in requests for their assistance on GivingTuesdayNow, and encourage your volunteers to reflect on the impact that the organization has had on their lives. Drawing their attention simultaneously to your donation campaign and to the positive experiences they have had will align the two, a link that may lead to more giving.
GivingTuesdayNow offers an opportunity for volunteers who might normally get to connect in-person through trainings, celebrations, and engagement to combat isolation. Ask them to engage in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts and invite them to a celebratory event at the end of the day — see our section on thanking donors and staying connected for more ideas!
Overall, your volunteers are individuals who care deeply about your organization and their community. Even if they do not typically donate, you can be confident that they will do what they can for your organization. Once you show how donating will impact the cause they care about, it’s more than likely you will find that these volunteers are excited to donate if able in these times.
Setting up donations and donation drives
For any donors, whether they are new or returning, it is important to make the donation process clear and easy. How you decide to set up your donation and donation drive campaigns will impact whether and how much people donate. Taking into account how donors are driven to your page, where funds are placed, and how long your campaign will extend can make all the difference. Here are some tips for how to do so:
Use a general fund
Your funding needs during the COVID-19 crisis will most likely be unpredictable, so fundraising for a general or emergency fund where you can easily access and use donations will be essential. You don’t want your funds to be locked into a certain fund as your needs continue to change over the upcoming weeks.
Send automatic reminders
Use a calendar invite to both remind donors of GivingTuesdayNow and to provide a link through which they can easily donate. For example, if your organization plans to set up a donate button on your GivePulse page, you can link to that page on the calendar invite. You can also create a fundraising campaign or donation drive event, which will automatically send reminders to registrants! Decide how often you want to remind your network of the upcoming event — perhaps three separate reminders, scheduled for one week, three days, and one day before?
Keep donors updated
Once your donors get to the donations page, you’ll want to have a way to show the target goal and how close you are. GivePulse can help to keep donors informed, whether through the landing page for the fundraising campaign as shown in the image below or through email, SNS, SMS, or another communication method (reach out to email@example.com for more information about these options). Similarly, share regular updates throughout the day on your social media! If donors see that you are close to the target this may encourage them to bump their donation to reach the goal; for those who haven’t donated yet, seeing reminders throughout the day on social media will encourage them to join in the effort.
Extend your campaign
Consider making this a longer campaign. GivingTuesdayNow offers an excellent focal point, but it certainly does not mean that your fundraising campaign needs to be limited to only May 5! You can make GivingTuesdayNow the end or start date of a longer campaign, framing it as a kickoff for or celebratory end to a successful giving campaign.
Thanking donors and staying connected
Both during and after your campaign, you have a perfect opportunity to strengthen connections to your organization and cause. There are a variety of ways that you can show your appreciation for donors:
Send a thank you letter
This is a classic for a reason. Receiving a physical reminder of their donation and an acknowledgement of the difference it makes shows a donor that their giving matters, and makes them feel personally connected to your organization. This physical reminder can be digital — an email, for example — or physical. No matter what the format, a tangible indication of your gratitude will connect the donors to your organization.
Host a virtual thank-a-thon
Meeting virtually can help donors and volunteers to connect with one another, and also to deepen their connection to the organization. Create a structured virtual event where you show the impact of donors’ efforts and thank the top donors individually. To make it easy for everyone to find and access your event, you can create a virtual event on GivePulse and add a conferencing URL to help everyone access the thank-a-thon at the click of a button. Give everyone the opportunity to applaud the end results. Extend this into a happy hour and encourage casual conversation. Get to know your donors and volunteers as individuals, and learn more about why they care so much about your organization.
Use a leaderboard and donor wall
Show donors that you appreciate their efforts by highlighting a virtual donor wall! GivePulse users are able to activate a leaderboard and be updated concerning recent giving activity for any fundraising campaign. Donors can be updated on the campaign and are able to share this with friends and family to drive further donations.
Use volunteers for stewardship efforts
Message your volunteers asking them to send thank-you videos to donors and to let them know how their funds will impact volunteers. This will show exactly what donors’ funds are going toward, and might encourage them to become long-term donors. If your volunteers have already recorded impacts on GivePulse, you can look through their shared testimonials and reflections to collectively tell the stories and impact they make to the organization!
Stay in touch
Send out follow-ups to show the impact of donations; this will help to turn one-time donors into lifelong proponents of your cause! Add your donors and volunteers to a listserv and regularly update them on how funds are being used. When possible, include pictures, as well as specific stories and anecdotes.
We hope that this guide helps to give some starting points for this GivingTuesdayNow. Remember to post your efforts with the hashtag #GivingTuesdayNow on social media, and to tag us if you are using our platform! Join us at our Open Office Hours this Friday May 1st at 1pm CT or schedule a call with our giving team for help with setting up donations, fundraising campaigns, and donation drives for your organization. Contact our COVID-19 taskforce at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to brainstorm and discuss how your organization can best shift to virtual opportunities to connect with volunteers at this time.
To learn more about how GivePulse can help you make a difference in your community, schedule a call.