9 ideas for Giving Tuesday emails that drive donations

E-ncourage giving

Giving Tuesday Promo You’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday — maybe even Small Business Saturday. But what about Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday — a national day of giving to kick off the giving season — was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. It falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

If you’re working on a Giving Tuesday campaign for a nonprofit org, here are nine ideas to shape your email.

Giving Tuesday Logo

1. Keep it simple

American Friends of Soroka Medical Center helps support the only major medical center in the Negev, the southern half of Israel. The organization’s 2013 Giving Tuesday email was remarkably simple. Check out this thoughtful call to action!

Giving Tuesday Soroka Medical

Pfeiffer Nature Center, located in rural, southwestern New York State, offers miles of open-access hiking trails and other outdoor attractions. In 2013, the Nature Center and Foundation did a great job of putting Giving Tuesday into perspective in its email campaign.

Giving Tuesday Pfieffer Nature

2. Raise awareness for the Giving Tuesday movement

The Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society is dedicated to the preservation, restoration and operation of steam locomotives and other vintage railway equipment for the education and enjoyment of the public. It operates the Waterloo Central Railway, which did a nice job of explaining the Giving Tuesday movement in its 2013 email.

Giving Tuesday Waterloo

3. Suggest donation amounts (and show why)

The mission of the San Diego Music Foundation is to enrich San Diego’s diverse and creative music community through music education for youth, professional development for current and emerging industry professionals, live performances for the San Diego public, and recognition for San Diego artists of exceptional merit or service. In 2013, the foundation provided the following list in its Giving Tuesday email:

Giving Tuesday San Diego Music

League of Dreams, a non-profit sports league for children with disabilities ages 5 to 22, lists several ways a gift of $100 might be spent.

Giving Tuesday League Dreams

The Girls Gotta Run Foundation invests in Ethiopian girls who use running and education to empower themselves and their communities. Its 2013 Giving Tuesday email lists several gift amounts and describes how that money could be put to use:

Giving Tuesday Girls Gotta Run

4. Ask your readers to share your fundraising link

The Books for Kids Foundation is dedicated to promoting literacy among children with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children. In its 2013 Giving Tuesday email, Books for Kids writes, “Please, share this link via email or on your social media with the hashtag #GivingTuesday to spread the word about this wonderful day and our very important cause.” Smart thinking!

Giving Tuesday Books For Kids

5. Share the story of a person (or animal or thing) you serve

Friendly House is a non-profit neighborhood center and social service agency in Portland, Oregon. In its 2013 Giving Tuesday email, Friendly House told Cindy’s story.

Giving Tuesday Friendly House


Readers may be more likely to connect with your mission — and your Giving Tuesday ask — on a more emotional level if they can visualize how your dollars play out in the real world. Whether you help people, pets, or natural places, share something that will inspire your readers to act.

6. Spur people to action with a limited-time gift match

Clinard Dance Theatre is a contemporary dance company rooted in Flamenco. In its 2013 Giving Tuesday email, Clinard promoted a one-day-only match of up to $250 per gift.

Giving Tuesday Clinard Dance

7. Welcome donations of time — recruit volunteers!

Not everyone will click through and make an online donation. Some people on your list may not be in a position to give financially right now, but you can make it clear that their time is also valuable to your organization.

Oakhill Day School is a non-parochial, independent, private day school in North Kansas City. In the school’s 2013 Giving Tuesday email, the primary call to action was to volunteer!

Giving Tuesday Oakhill Day School

8. Create a video ask for Giving Tuesday

You don’t need to have a big budget — or even any budget — to create a short video that moves your readers to donate. Chicago-based Northwest Side Housing Center (NWSHC) is a HUD-Certified, community-based, nonprofit organization that engages, educates and empowers the community to improve housing for all. NWSHC sent a very simple Giving Tuesday in 2013. Right away, the email points readers to its Giving Tuesday videos (and note that you can make a donation right from that page).

Giving Tuesday Northwest Side Housing

9. Use the visual resources available on the Giving Tuesday site

The Giving Tuesday website provides lots of logos to use in your emails and on social media. The official Giving Tuesday visual resources may give your communications a more polished look. But it’s also a good idea to use your own branding — your readers expect that from you!

Readers, do you have any other advice about running an effective Giving Tuesday campaign?

Image by: HowardLake via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-SA