Is Giving Tuesday helping or hurting fundraising?

Written by Rachel Santos

GivingTuesday is the juggernaut of all giving days. Last year, the giving day raised $2.47 billion in the United States—up 25% over 2019—adding to the $503 million raised earlier on GivingTuesdayNow, a special May 5 giving day meant to generate capital to meet pandemic needs. In the face of the pandemic’s challenges and isolation, millions of people from all walks of life around the world felt an urgent desire to help others in 2020.

But will donors feel the same urgency to give on GivingTuesday 2021? In The Chronicle of Philanthropy‘s “Some Charities Are Raising Money for Other Nonprofits This GivingTuesday,” Emily Haynes explores different routes organizations are taking to craft their GivingTuesday appeals—and stay relevant—in an increasingly saturated market. As fundraisers’ strategies increase in complexity to make a splash on GivingTuesday, Tim Winkler was asked to weigh in.

Winkler stressed that rather than following the crowd, charities should consider whether the donations received on GivingTuesday are worth all hours spent preparing for that one day. Instead, organizations might want to consider spending those same hours of work focusing on activities that will generate a higher ROI, such as major gifts or building long-term relationships with the donors they have.

The firm remains concerned that fundraisers are focusing more on generating an eye-catching appeal than on developing a strategy to keep GivingTuesday supporters engaged in the long term. “Donor retention is one of the most pressing problems facing nonprofits today […] GivingTuesday just exacerbates that problem,” remarked Jessica Browning, executive vice president.

Robert Downen of the Houston Chronicle raises similar doubts over the sustainability of GivingTuesday donations and the ability of charities in 2021 to continue riding the wave of monumental support that they experienced last year. Winkler shared his thoughts with Downen and does not necessarily anticipate a major drop in donations this GivingTuesday. But that belief comes with words of caution: do not neglect your pre-existing donor base, including donors you may have gained from GivingTuesday 2020, in favor of chasing new donors. Organizations, he says, should work on making sure that the new pool of donors is more than just “a blip on the radar.”

To read the entire Chronicle of Philanthropy article with a subscription, visit this page.
To read the entire Houston Chronicle article with a subscription, visit this page.


About the Author

Rachel Santos, Marketing and Sales Coordinator, author of "The Real ROI of an Outsider."

Rachel Santos is Marketing and Sales Coordinator for the Winkler Group, a national capital campaign and strategic planning firm headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina. Rachel connects nonprofit partners with resources they can use to impact their communities—providing industry insights, research, and strategy so that they can expand their reach in carrying out their missions and making a difference. She holds two bachelor’s degrees from the College of Charleston.

For more resources:

The generous will prosper: those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.
(Proverbs 11:25)

  • Over $1 Billion Raised
  • Our campaigns achieve 117% of their original goals
  • Our consultants have 200 years of fundraising experience