Giving Up #GivingTuesday

This is sort of a reworking of this earlier post: Why You Shouldn’t Worry So Much about #GivingTuesday.

Every mid- to late-October when I was fundraiser, I would start seeing posts about #GivingTuesday. There are a lot of people who would love to give you—or, probably more often, sell you—advice about how to make this year’s #GivingTuesday the best #GivingTuesday ever. And they all use the hashtag.

Giving Tuesday is a weird little holiday that started in 2012. It’s not even a decade old and it has caught on like wildfire in the nonprofit community. Almost every organization that I follow via social media or email sent messages about Giving Tuesday and how people could give on this important holiday.

And there are two things that I really noticed this year. First, we still act like Giving Tuesday is a holiday on par with Black Friday. It’s not. And we need to recognize that it’s not. Professional fundraisers and nonprofit organizations spend days or weeks or even months getting ready for a ‘holiday’ that most people barely notice exists. And what we end up with is a day when a lot of nonprofits are competing for limited attention.

#GivingTuesday really seems like a day when a lot of nonprofits compete for limited attention. It's a day professional fundraisers care about, not a day that donors do. Click To Tweet

Second, a lot of Giving Tuesday messages are bad. They are bad fundraising messages. They are bad stewardship messages. They are bad relationship-building messages. And bad messaging on Giving Tuesday isn’t going to work any better than bad messaging the rest of the year.

So I’m not a professional fundraiser anymore, but I’m encouraging nonprofits to give up on #GivingTuesday.

Because here’s the thing: good fundraising works every day.

You and your organization will do better if you spend the time and energy you’ve been spending on Giving Tuesday on developing strong and effective fundraising processes that are working the other 364 days of the year.

Connect with your donors: Talk to your donors about what your organization does and what they want to do with their gifts. Develop relationships with your donors that show your donors that they matter and that they can change the world.

Ask your donors to partner with you: Ask people to support the cause that your organization is working on. Every fundraiser knows that the number one reason that people don’t give is that no one asked. So ask… for specific gifts to do specific things that your donors care about. Just don’t do it on a day when everyone else is also asking.

Thank your donors: Say thank you. Say it profusely. Say it sincerely. Say it warmly. Let your donors know that you are grateful and that they made a difference.

Report back to your donors: Let your donors know what they did with their gift… on an ongoing basis. Show them that they had an impact on the world.

And then do it all again.

That is fundraising that raises money. And it raises money every day. And when you’re raising money every day, you can give up on #GivingTuesday and do the work that you are here to do: change the world.

Right now, there is a movement in churches and nonprofits arguing that charity is toxic, that helping hurts, and that the entire nonprofit sector needs to be reformed to truly lift people out of poverty. These charity skeptics are telling Christians that traditional charity deepens dependency, fosters a sense of entitlement, and erodes the work ethic of people who receive it. Charity skepticism is increasingly popular; and it is almost certainly wrong.

Now available from Wipf and Stock’s Cascade Books imprint, Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) weaves together research and scholarship on topics as diverse as biblical scholarship, Christian history, economics, and behavioral psychology to tell a different story. In this story, charity is the heart of Christianity and one of the most effective ways that we can help people who are living in poverty. Charity—giving to people experiencing poverty without any expectation of return or reformation—can save the world and help make God’s vision for the church a reality.

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