Getting More from Giving Tuesday

Getting More from Giving Tuesday


14 November 2023


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


Frequent readers of this blog will know that I am mixed about Giving Tuesday. It feels to me like doing very little nets you $3,000-5,000 while going all out nets you maybe double that. By “netting” I mean the amount that you actually receive less the amount you would have received anyway.

BTW – the behavioral science on Giving Tuesday is decidedly mixed, according to The Agitator Blog / DonorVoice. Some research findings indicate some incremental increases in donor value. Other studies show that results reflect little more than donors moving their giving from December into November. In other words, more that they are giving earlier than that they are giving more.


This matches my own experience, where many of the Giving Tuesday donors are Board directors!

Clearly some organizations are doing much better, and those that are fortunate enough to land a matching grant (or two or three) are not starting from zero.

My more significant feeling is related to the opportunity cost. If you expended the same organizational energy asking your $250 donors for $1,000 over coffee, would you raise more money? How about asking your $1,000 donors for $5,000?

My guess is that you would be farther ahead doing the minimum for Giving Tuesday and putting more eggs in the getting-to-know-your-donors basket. It’s like “sure, go all out on GT – but AFTER you’ve done all your other, more important work first.”


OK, so all that aside, what can you do to get more out of Giving Tuesday?

The best idea I’ve heard in a long time is to install a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) widget directly into your Giving Tuesday emails. Relatively few of your donors will have DAFs, but you will raise more money if you work systematically to discover who they are. You can use Giving Tuesday to start that process every year.

The DAF widget is free, but you’ll need access to a techie to set it up. Learn more here:

DAF Direct Widget Tutorial

DAF Direct FAQs

And get the widget here:

DAF Direct Widget


Other ideas that have survive DonorVoice’s Giving Tuesday research:

  1. Use matching gift information in the subject line (Giving Tuesday Gifts Doubled!), but use it in combination with an impact statement (Your Giving Tuesday Gift Doubled to Restore Prairie Today!)
  2. Use personalization in the subject line (David, Your Giving Tuesday Gift to Restore Prairie will be Doubled Today!)
  3. Send multiple emails – three or four on Giving Tuesday alone.
  4. Create urgency: Time is Running Out, Three Hours Left, Last Chance, and so on


Also, don’t work up all the hype and then fizzle on the gratitude. Use letters and stamps. Make them heartfelt. Make them memorable. Include information related to the how their gift helped make the match. Tell people how much it means to you that they gave.

In other words, clear your calendar on Wednesday.

There is ample and strong evidence that Giving Tuesday donors will remember your notes and look for you next year after receiving a note of gratitude this year. Think about it this way: Most Giving Tuesday donors will receive dozens of emails on November 27th and 28th. But most will make gifts to just one or two charities that day.

If your land trust is to survive in that competitive environment, you’ll need to be memorable.

The best way to be memorable is through your thank-you letters. The payoff will be in additional gifts, better retention, and higher 5-year values.


Or maybe – another idea from DonorVoice – you could abandon the ask altogether and rebrand the day as ThanksGiving Tuesday. Consider that you might make just as much money when people are expecting an ask email/video/link and getting a thank-you email/video/link instead.


If you have ideas to share from your experience, please do so in the comments.


Cheers, and have a great week!




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.


Photo by Matt Bango courtesy



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  • Sally J Cross
    Posted at 15:29h, 28 November

    Hi David,

    Great points as always. Here’s my Giving Tuesday lament. It’s 4pm, and I’ve already received more than 60 emails, multiple FB posts, and one call (from an organization I support, and I did make a gift). About half the emails include “Giving Tuesday” in their subject line (why thank you – I live under a rock and wouldn’t otherwise know this fact!). Few mention impact other than doubling or tripling my gift with a match, and most are pretty cookie cutter.

    This is in addition, of course, to the pre-GT emails that flooded in over the past few days. And the day isn’t over yet! Only one so far has really stood out to me – from an organization I support, promoting a very concrete goal (buying new equipment) and it is using some humor, too.

    I mean, yes, I’ve been involved in nonprofits for a long time, and yes, I am a retired community foundation CEO, but I know that I’m far from alone, and it leads me to consider a filter on my email to simply trash any mail containing the phrase. Yikes!

  • Carrie Rasmussen
    Posted at 11:46h, 17 November

    I think there’s way too much hype, and the time spent is not worth it. On a recent AI fundraising webinar, the presenter pointed out that some donors may wonder why a nonprofit organization isn’t promoting themselves at all for GT and may choose to donate elsewhere. How many donors would go out of their way on GT to see what each organization is doing to offer matches, etc. I don’t know, but likely very few. When I worked for a community land trust / communal living group, it was the first year of GT, and we called it ‘Giving Back Tuesday’ and provided special resources, videos, webinars, etc online that day and gave away books through a live Facebook event.

  • Carol Abrahamzon
    Posted at 10:30h, 14 November

    We have found that if GT is used to raise money for a “thing”, this year a new mower, we are successful at reaching new donors who like to give for things over operations. That’s what we use it for.

  • Sally J Cross
    Posted at 07:19h, 14 November

    In terms of pure ROI, I would bet that staff time spent talking with individual donors beat time invested in Giving Tuesday (including securing match and/or board lead gifts) just about every time.

  • Charlotte
    Posted at 06:57h, 14 November

    Thank you for this very timely message, David!

    I’m in my first year at my land trust and I have been petitioning for sending out a Day of Thanks blast (with the regular buttons, including donate, at the bottom). At the moment, my draft reads “Dear first name, on this Giving Tuesday, we give thanks for you!” and then some of the incredible work (lifted from our annual update) that we have accomplished together.

    My eblast annual appeal went out this morning, so it feels fitting to simply say thank you, rather than ask for more.