Value, Worth, and Building your Donor Community
I admit it! I’m not a fan of Giving Tuesday and my views on it haven’t changed since 2016. To me, not much has changed since then except for the number of organizations trying to get their piece of the action.
Nonprofits view Giving Tuesday as their chance to flood their social media outlets hoping they attract donors and funding opportunities. Hours are spent and focused on that one day with visions of pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. But for most organizations, as it was back in 2016, the squeeze isn’t worth the juice as the saying goes. Many organizations have unrealistic goals for Giving Tuesday hoping it will close funding gaps. Some suffer from FOMA, the Fear of Missing Out, if they don’t have a social media presence on that one sacred day. Some even post their dollar goals with many coming up short. Ever think about what message that sends to current and potential donors? It may give one the impression that you’re in a panic mode, trying to close year end shortfalls. Some might ask, “Why should I contribute when others aren’t?”
With Giving Tuesday in the rear view mirror, it’s time to examine how successful your efforts were and take a look at it from a different lens, that of your donor community.
Let’s start with the number of emails or news feeds you personally received leading up to and on Giving Tuesday. What was your reaction to them? Did they all resonate with what you find valuable and worthy of your gift? My guess is probably not. So, how does a donor choose which request to honor?
Donors give based on how they VALUE your organization and the value your organization has on fulfilling its mission. They base their decision on WORTH; is your organization worthy of your gift and how will you steward it. Creating a sharable link on your social media sites and asking members of your community to share it with their networks is fine, but what does your post say about your organization? Does it speak to your mission and impact? What would make someone click on your site to learn more? Your community sees the value and worth of your organization but their friends and those in their networks may not share and see or share the same value and worth experiences. For example, someone who is committed to organizations addressing food insecurity may not have the same sentiments for an organization in the arts sector. Both have value and worth, and donors will contribute to those with what they define as valuable and worthy and align with their interest.
So instead of focusing on what your donor community can do for your organization on Giving Tuesday, look at what you can do to build your donor community and keep them engaged year round.
You can start by demonstrating your organization’s value and worth, proving your impact is important to your donors. Not just one day a year, but with consistency, conveying your impact, outcomes, and storytelling. It is the foundation for a sustainable and expanding fund development program. Instead of relying on one day of the year to raise your unrestricted funds, take the time now to plan ahead with an intentional fund development plan that keeps your donors informed and engaged 365 days of the year. Slow and steady wins the race.
So, I ask you, was the time and effort you put into being part of the crowded field on Giving Tuesday worth it?
If your answer is no, if you’re exhausted from the hustle of that one day and little return, if you feel cheated of any great reward from the commercialization of the Big Day, don’t despair. There’s some things you can still do to salvage your effort.
Start by setting a strategy to cultivate and grow the community you did gain on Giving Tuesday. Any new donors who acquired should be part of that plan to communicate with them regularly, proving your value and worth and inviting them into daily relationships with your organization.
Secondly, commit to creating a fund development plan that includes nurturing your philanthropic community with consistent and intentional communications. Not transactional asks, but authentic interactions that grow your donors’ sense of belonging and being appreciated as part of your community. Doing these two simple things will ensure that come the next Giving Tuesday, you won’t be compelled to run in the race for little reward, you won’t suffer from ‘FOMA”, and your community will appreciate one less Giving Tuesday appeal in their inbox.