By now you’ve all heard about GivingTuesday, the annual giving day that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. We’re saturated with information about participating. Perhaps you’ve participated in the past and it’s been successful or maybe it wasn’t. Perhaps you’re thinking about participating for the first time.
My problem with GivingTuesday and any giving days, for that matter, is they focus too much on getting donations. Many of these donors are first-time donors who don’t give again. That may be because they were drawn into whatever gimmicks the organizations were using to get donations or the organizations failed to build relationships afterward.
Speaking of building relationships, instead of focusing so much time and energy on GivingTuesday, focus more on thanking your donors and building those important relationships.
Building relationships before you send your appeal
I know you have a lot on your plate before a big appeal, but you need to include relationship building in the mix. Send a thank you/update at least a few weeks before your appeal.
Here’s a great example from Reach Out & Read. They sent a postcard with a picture of cute kindergartners and the caption “Meet the Class of 2030!” On the back was a list of accomplishments and it ended with “All because you cared enough to support Reach Out & Read, Thank You!”
You can do something like this, too. Create a postcard with an engaging photo and show your donors how they helped you make a difference for the people you serve.
You could also send a Thanksgiving card or email. Donors are going to get a lot of appeals from you at year-end or whenever you do an appeal. You also want to use this time to communicate in ways in which you’re not asking for money.
Building relationships instead of participating in GivingTuesday
I’ll let you decide if you want to participate in GivingTuesday or not. You may want to go for a Gratitude or Relationship Building Day instead. #GivingTuesday or #Gratitude Tuesday? Choose!
I suggest you do your Relationship Building Day on a day other than GivingTuesday because you’ll be competing with a ton of email messages that day and your donors may not see your message.
Building relationships after your appeal and throughout the year
After you’ve sent your appeal, whether it’s on GivingTuesday or any other time, your work is far from over. You need to thank your donors and build relationships throughout the year. We think of these things around Thanksgiving and the end of the year, but most of the time there’s a relationship building drought. Gratitude and Relationship Building Days are just as important in May as they are in November. See if you can do at least one relationship building activity a month, every one to two weeks is even better.
You can build relationships with welcome packets for new donors, heartfelt thank you notes, a thank you video, updates by mail, email, and social media, advocacy alerts, surveys, tours, and open houses. Remember to keep your messages donor-centered and use the channels your donors prefer.
Building good relationships with your donors is the key to keeping them for a long time.