By Emily Morse

#GivingTuesday—the philanthropic day inspired by Black Friday—raised $177 million dollars in 2016. That is a 44% growth compared to the previous year (according to CauseVox). Traditional Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping also increased during 2016, but less so, at a rate of 17.3% over the previous year (Fortune). This rapid growth in #GivingTuesday participation is sure to silence several Scrooges out there and to encourage even more participation this year. Whether you’re considering contributing as a donor or participating as a charity during this year’s #GivingTuesday, we’ve posted some tips below to help you make the most of your participation.

Giving It Your Best as a Donor

To “give your best,” you first have to decide where to give. There are many deserving causes– ranging in terms of their reach (local vs. global) and in terms of their constituency (from underserved populations to furry friends to the environment). Of course, if you had unlimited resources, you’d love to support them all – but if you (like the majority of us!) donate on a budget, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to put your dollar and your energy.

It’s also hard to select a cause confidently when you read news exposés describing “fraudulent activity” at major charities including charities who have used their donated funds for something other than serving their mission. To help you make an informed decision about where to place your donation, some organizations (called “Watchdogs”) rate and review nonprofits and provide data about how organizations spend their money. For example, Charity Watch gives a Program % to each charity they review, which represents the organization’s percentage of expenses towards charitable programs versus overhead (e.g., fundraising, management). Charity Watch considers a Program % score of 75% or greater to be “highly efficient.” Watchdog ratings can be useful metrics but can be misleading when comparing nonprofits directly because every mission differs and organizations may reasonably require different levels of overhead. You should research how each watchdog that you use provides ratings to determine what you’re comfortable with in terms of a charity score. FYI, Guide Star is the largest and most well-known watchdog, and Great Nonprofits is another major site.

Let’s say you’ve confirmed via your preferred watchdog that a bunch of charities you like, perhaps 10 of them, have great scores. Should you take your $100 that you’ve earmarked for a #GivingTuesday donation and split it up evenly between your charities or choose just one? There are two schools of thinking on that:

  1. On the one hand, people are more likely to invest in organizations where other people have already invested. In other words, if somebody goes to a charity’s website and it says, “Thanks to our 1000 #GivingTuesday donors this year!” that person will be motivated to join by becoming Donor #1001. So, if you split your $100 into several small gifts to different organizations, you may be helping each organization leverage your small gift and turn it into a lot more gifts. On the other hand…
  2. As Time reports, “Small gifts have relatively high administrative costs. The $3 it might cost a charity to handle a donation, for example, is only 3% of a $100 donation — but 30% of a $10 gift.” In other words, if you give a charity a small sum of money, the percentage they can use towards charitable programming will be smaller.

So, to split, or not to split the $100? This one is up to you – I recommend asking yourself, If I could help them do anything, what would I want my charity to be able to do with this money? If the answer is that you want to help them provide more domestic abuse survivors with more basic necessities, then you may want to give that organization the full amount of money, or at least a larger sum of it, so that they can buy the equipment they need. If the answer is that you want to help the organization become a household name, giving them a small piece of your charity pie (and tweeting about it!) may be best.

While Black Friday and #GivingTuesday have specific 24-hour periods of time where the media is counting dollars spent and raised, you probably won’t stop shopping throughout all of December, so why not let the spirit of #GivingTuesday guide the rest of your holiday season? There are plenty of additional ways to be philanthropic all winter long! Don’t forget about the bell-ringers outside of the mall collecting donations; take note of opportunities to donate a few dollars to a specific organization when you check out at the grocery store; keep a jar out on your kitchen counter and encourage your children to collect loose change so that you can start off the new year by making a family gift to a charity that you all pick together.

Giving It Your Best as a Nonprofit

You may be participating in #GivingTuesday as an individual, but perhaps you also work at a nonprofit organization and want to make sure that other donors invest in your mission this season. First thing’s first: have you checked your organization’s watchdog profiles? Make sure that you’re listed on appropriate rating sites, and make sure that the information is accurate. Perhaps even provide a link to your watchdog ratings from your organization’s website to allay any cautious donors’ concerns.

Your organization is probably already sharing stories about your mission via a number of social media channels. Have you thought about how you can capitalize on the money your prospective donors saved on Black Friday to increase their donations to your organization? Sharing an infographic or post reminding people of the cash they saved in great Black Friday deals can encourage them to pledge some of their holiday shopping savings to you! Hubspot elaborates on this idea.

This one may be less inspiring, but it’s just as important: With the increase in online shopping and giving comes an increase in fraudulent activity. Protect your organization to protect your constituents, donors, and your own reputation. Last year, we provided some recommendations on cyber safety and #GivingTuesday that you may want to review again this year. Cloud for Good consultants are experienced in Salesforce security features and security for related applications, so if your organization is using these tools and you have questions about how you can protect your organization, reach out.

Everything you need to know about giving your all on #GivingTuesday is right in the name: it’s about giving, and it’s about #SocialMedia. Update your website and social media pages with #GivingTuesday information and images. Create a fun hashtag just for the day, and encourage your donors and followers to share, share, share. And, when your donors and supporters post about your organization, like it, re-share it, or comment on it – they want to hear from you, too!

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Emily Morse

Emily Morse

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