Giving Tuesday – Was It Worth It?

Giving Tuesday – Was It Worth It?


15 December 2020


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


Double your Giving Tuesday gift!

Celebrate Giving Tuesday

The importance of one day in land conservation

3 Reasons to #SaveTheBay on #GivingTuesday – TODAY!

In uncertain times, the Alliance meets the need

Give Today – Support Leaders of Tomorrow!

Final hours to give back this Giving Tuesday!

❗MATCH e x t e n s i o n – starts now, ends midnight



If your InBox is like mine, it was filled to the brim with Giving Tuesday messages a couple of weeks ago. Messages with subject lines like those above.

Did you read each one with professional curiosity? Did you save them as an idea bank for next year?

Or did you press delete? Delete, delete, delete.

I save mine. Just like I save a lot of the appeal letters I receive.


For the record, I’m not a real fan of on-line giving campaigns. My essential complaint is related to the opportunity cost. Most land trusts with which I am familiar are not receiving even $10,000 from Giving Tuesday. If they spent that same amount of time and effort (not to mention stress!) on major giving, most could multiply that result many times over.

That assumes, however, that the same time was actually used to build donors relationships!


The on-line giving numbers this year are impressive and record-setting. These were posted on which sells on-line giving software and consulting:

  • Nearly $38MM raised, compared with $19.4MM in 2019 (plus 95%)
  • 9,000 active campaigns
  • Average donation = $130
  • 262K donors compared with 154K in 2019 (plus 70%)
  • Most generous states per capita – WA, MA, OR, CA, VA, VT, MD, NY, AZ
  • Amount given to Environment and Animals – $2.25MM – 6%


I do get questions every year like this one:

What do you think is the best strategy for #GivingTuesday? Just do the bare minimum to have a presence, or really go all in to it? We made about $10,000 from it in 2018, but last year was much less with a slightly different strategy. A lot of those donors we don’t even have email or addresses for, so we can’t renew them. Is it worth all the energy to put together a digital campaign?


My answers have mostly been most evasive:

What I can tell you is that very few organizations see lasting value beyond what they get from the matching donors – and most of those would have given anyway. That argues for a minimalist approach for medium-sized organizations. (For many small organizations, $5,000-10,000 is still a lot of money.)


The point is that I am due for a more thoughtful response – and this post isn’t it.


BUT – I do have some information to share, a couple of recommendations, and a request of you.


Information to Share


NextAfter is an on-line marketing firm that publishes a good deal of free information related to data-driven fundraising. They have recently released an E-Book about on-line campaigns that is one of the best I’ve seen. You can find it here, but understand going in that you will need to consent to their own digital marketing to get it.

Lots of nuggets here, but this one really stood out to me:

  • 3% of on-line giving is given on Giving Tuesday
  • 37% (8 times the Giving Tuesday result) is given during the week between Christmas and New Years with 15.5% given on 12/31 alone.


Wouldn’t that argue for putting more energy into the last week of December instead of the last week of November? With the added benefit that year-end online campaigns are less likely to bump off other fundraising activities?

If you do put energy into year-end, here are the suggestions they make (these are paraphrased and annotated by me):

  • Make your donation page easy to find
  • Use a banner ad on your home page – Many people visiting your website will be looking for ways to give online. Make it easy!
  • Use Pop-up ads to catch your visitors’ attention – Pop-ups can request very small donations for specific activities related to the specific pages where they appear and are best when they click through to different landing pages. This brings in a bit of money, but it also gives you their mailing address.
  • Send three emails timed for midday on December 30th, morning on December 31st, and evening on December 31st.
    • Call your donors by name
    • Acknowledge the deadline and the urgency to give
    • Announce any incentives (matching gifts)
    • Ask for an immediate donation
    • Use a countdown clock
    • The last email can be an exact copy of the earlier one with a short note added near the top.
  • For your Donation Page: Reference year-end giving in the Headline
  • Keep the body copy simple; reference the same reasons to give as you used in the emails
  • Use countdown clocks and progress bars
  • Use matching gifts and reference the incentives in both the marketing (emails) and on the donations page




  1. Don’t kill yourself this year. If you’ve already got a campaign created and in motion, go for it. But don’t kill yourself in the next few weeks to get one if you don’t.
  2. That said, sending out emails on December 30th and 31st is still a good idea. Recycle what you used last year, or what you used for Giving Tuesday. But getting something out is better than ignoring it completely.
  3. Collect all the Giving Tuesday emails you got and all the year-end emails you will get in an email folder. Then make a date with yourself in April or May to dig into the folder and use the ideas there (together with this blog post) to craft a more sane campaign for 2021 that includes both Giving Tuesday and year-end. The campaign should be related to the specific culture and circumstances of your organization.
  4. I still believe there are opportunity costs: Avoid raising $10,000 at the expense of cultivating million-dollar relationships.


A Request


I’m interested in land trust specific data. If you are invested in Giving Tuesday or year-end campaigns or some other online giving campaign (such as a state Gives Day), I’d like to hear about your experience.

  • Tell me what you are doing and be as specific as you can be
  • Give me the highlights of your results
  • How would you advise others based on your experience?
  • Are you getting mostly people who would have given anyway?
  • Are you attracting new donors?


You can put them in the comments section, below, or send them to me here:

David (at) DevelopmentForConservation (dot) com.

I will compile and publish what I learn.


Happy Holidays!




Photo by FOCA Stock courtesy of


PS: Your comments on these posts are welcomed and warmly requested. If you have not posted a comment before, or if you are using a new email address, please know that there may be a delay in seeing your posted comment. That’s my SPAM defense at work. I approve all comments as soon as I am able during the day.



Share this!
  • Susan Crick
    Posted at 18:21h, 16 December

    We focus on Colorado Gives Day, which was on Tuesday, December 8th and just use the national day to remind everyone on social media to schedule their Colorado Gives Day donation. It has become a tradition in our state and does a major media push and offers some type of matching program each year. If you are connected with a non-profit in this state, you most likely received multiple requests to participate with Colorado Gives Day, saw it all over social media, etc. It was very successful for us this year (we received over $70k from about 100 donors). One of the exciting things that happened, is that we gained at least 8 new donors that found us through searches on the website.

  • Bethany
    Posted at 07:05h, 16 December

    We participated in a regional giving day over the summer, and realized greater success from that (although still not terribly impressive) than I ever have from Giving Tuesday. Although I can appreciate the concept of Giving Tuesday and usually participate in a fairly minimal way with some social media posts and an enewsletter, I am generally skeptical of the day overall and certainly don’t rely on it as a fundraising tool. It’s obvious that any e-appeal I send will just be lost in inboxes among the dozens of others that go out that day–plus I just don’t feel like “It’s Tuesday!” is a compelling reason to give for the average donor.
    Thanks for your post!

  • Heidi Habeger
    Posted at 11:34h, 15 December

    David, I’ll send you an email with our data for #GT and YE. We find that doing emails and social on #GT and offering a match works well for us. Fortunately my colleague helps with the details, as I’m focused on reaching out to key donors this time of year.

  • Creal
    Posted at 09:27h, 15 December

    Thanks for posting this, David!! I have been skeptical about giving days like this and their payoff so I’m glad to see my thinking was along the lines of yours. That being said, this year for Giving Tuesday and for The Big Share coming up in March, I agreed to “go all in” to see what happens and be able to make better decisions about those days in the future. We’ll send over our results to you so you can see them.