10 Giving Tuesday email ideas that drive donations

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It’s all in the ask

If you run or work for a nonprofit organization, you’re likely always looking for new and innovative email ideas that drive donations. One way nonprofits and charitable organizations go about doing this is by taking advantage of the buzzworthy event known as Giving Tuesday.

For those unfamiliar, Giving Tuesday, often referred to as #GivingTuesday on social media, falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.

It is recognized by many as a national day of giving, and considered an official kickoff to the giving season.


Giving Tuesday was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation.

The day offers a great opportunity for nonprofit businesses to connect with current and potential donors, and solicit and receive donations.

In this post we’ll explore some Giving Tuesday email ideas and tips you can use to convert your outreach campaigns into cold hard cash for your organization.

Editor’s note: Want to make Giving Tuesday even easier for your team? Use GoDaddy Email Marketing to create and track email campaigns that integrate with your website.

Planning your Giving Tuesday email campaign

For the best results, you’ll want to begin planning out your Giving Tuesday email marketing campaign about two months prior to the day. Depending on how big or small your team is, it may be a good idea to begin planning even sooner.

After all, a campaign like this can be quite an undertaking, and breaking the tasks down into bite sized pieces can make it less stressful for everyone involved.

While planning, you’ll need a few things in place well before the day arrives. These things include but are not limited to:

  • Your contact list of people you plan to reach via email, phone and possibly snail mail. You may also want to consider an email opt-in drive many months prior to Giving Tuesday to get the word out about your cause early. Doing this will prevent people from being surprised you’re asking for a donation come event day.
  • Your images that will be used in social media promotions and email correspondence. Think new headshots of key team members for your website, finding images from clients or events, taking snapshots of your facility or what you’re raising money for, etc.
  • The emails you plan to send out. You’ll want to write a minimum of four emails:
    • One for two weeks out (a save the date type email about the impending Giving Tuesday).
    • One for the week before (a simple reminder with a call-to-action to share your campaign with friends, family, and on social media).
    • One for the day before (to keep your organization top of mind).
    • One for the day of (so they won’t have an excuse for forgetting about the day).
    • Note: You may also want to write a second email for the day of, to encourage last minute donors.
  • Social media content updates, and the dates and times you plan for them to go live.
  • Your donation goal, so you can measure whether or not your efforts were successful.
  • The logos you’ll use either for your organization, or specifically related to Giving Tuesday. Some people opt to use the logos directly from GivingTuesday.org, but others choose to blend their own logos with those on the Giving Tuesday website. Others still, create something else entirely that is completely unique.
  • Videos for social, email and YouTube, if you choose to do some video marketing. You don’t need a big budget, but filming and editing takes time.
  • Volunteers or staff ready to help with correspondence and troubleshooting donation problems that will inevitably come up.
  • Contingency plans for anything that might go wrong, such as servers going down, websites crashing, or credit cards being declined. Be sure to update all software related to emails, credit card processing, social shares, etc.
  • Confirm all donation links are working properly and simple to follow so people can donate instantly. Don’t make your potential donors scroll through endless pages in order to give you money.

You’ll want these elements ready ahead of Giving Tuesday’s arrival so that you and/or your team are not scrambling at the last minute trying to figure out how to drive donations smoothly.

Do yourself a favor: Make a master plan and then execute that plan using whatever schedule you’ve created for yourself.

Bonus points if you can schedule social media updates and emails ahead of time to go live when you want them too. The easier you can make Giving Tuesday on yourself, the better.

It’s safe to say that for most nonprofit and charitable organizations, the primary way you’ll be soliciting donations is by hitting up your email list. This is because your email list is filled with people you’ve already been in contact with, so they’re already warmed up.

Pro Tip: People who have already connected with your organization in the past are more likely to give than a random person seeing a social media post online who has never heard of you before.

Related: Beginner’s guide to starting an email list

Giving Tuesday email ideas

With your planning underway, it’s time to look at some Giving Tuesday email ideas you may want to consider using for your organization.

  1. Keep your messaging simple.
  2. Suggest donation amounts (and show why).
  3. Ask your readers to share your fundraising link.
  4. Share the story of a person (or animal or thing) you serve.
  5. Spur people to action with a limited-time gift match.
  6. Welcome donations of time — recruit volunteers.
  7. Create a video ask for Giving Tuesday.
  8. Give something in exchange for the donation.
  9. Use the visual resources available on the Giving Tuesday site.
  10. Send a final email on “Thank You Wednesday.”

Now, let’s explore each of these Giving Tuesday email ideas (and related examples) in greater detail.

Related: Tips and tricks for attracting nonprofit donations

1. Keep your messaging simple

American Friends of Soroka Medical Center helps support the only major medical center in the Negev, the southern half of Israel. A past Giving Tuesday email from the organization was remarkably simple. Check out this thoughtful call-to-action.

Giving Tuesday American Friends Soroka Medical Center
Photo: American Friends of Soroka Medical Center

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

Giving Tuesday Pfeiffer Nature Center
Photo: Pfeiffer Nature Center

2. Suggest donation amounts (and show why)

The mission of the San Diego Music Foundation is to enrich San Diego, California’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 a past email, the foundation provided the following list in its Giving Tuesday correspondence.

Giving Tuesday San Diego Music Foundation
Photo: San Diego Music Foundation

Pro Tip: It’s much easier to encourage a donation in the amount you’d like to receive when your donors can see exactly what the funds will be used for.

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

Giving Tuesday League of Dreams
Photo: League of Dreams

The Girls Gotta Run Foundation invests in Ethiopian girls who use running and education to empower themselves and their communities. One of their Giving Tuesday emails listed several gift amounts and describes how that money could be put to use.

Giving Tuesday Girls Gotta Run Foundation
Photo: The Girls Gotta Run Foundation

3. 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 one of their Giving Tuesday emails, Books for Kids simply wrote, “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.”

The more you can encourage your list to share your link, the wider your reach of new potential donors will become.

Smart thinking!

Giving Tuesday Books for Kids Foundation
Photo: The Books for Kids Foundation

4. 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 one of their Giving Tuesday emails, Friendly House told the story of a woman named Cindy.

Giving Tuesday Friendly House
Photo: 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.

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

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

Giving Tuesday Clinard Dance Theatre
Photo: Clinard Dance Theatre

The American Lung Association did something similar one year. Their volunteer National Board of Directors created a matching gift challenge where they pledged to donate up to $50,000 for every dollar that was brought in by other donors on Giving Tuesday.

A simple act like this can mean two times the amount of money for your organization.


And, your donors will feel like their donation will have a bigger impact.

Giving Tuesday American Lung Association
Photo: The American Lung Association

Pro Tip: Partner with a business willing to be your Giving Tuesday Match donor. They’ll get advertising, and you’ll get extra money for your cause. Win-win!

Related: Best fundraising ideas: How to partner with influencers

6. Welcome donations of time — recruit volunteers

Not everyone will click through and make a monetary donation online. 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, Missouri. In one of the school’s Giving Tuesday emails, their primary call-to-action was to volunteer. They even included a simple link that directed you to a sign up page so you could pick a day and time on the spot.

Pro Tip: Whether it’s time or money that your donors are giving, make it ridiculously easy for them to give.

Related: 5 ways to show appreciation for your nonprofit volunteers

7. Create a video ask for Giving Tuesday

You don’t need a lot of money to create a short video that moves your readers to donate. These days you can create a video that is shareworthy with nothing but a smartphone. And, there are dozens of apps for both Android and iOS that you can use to edit them and add music with just a few clicks.

Videos let your community see who you are and who you are helping, and connect with your organization on a deeper level.

Instead of being “just another cause” to give to, you become something more meaningful that they can virtually get to know.

Chicago, Illinois-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 message in a past email that pointed readers to their Giving Tuesday video page, and noted that you could make a donation directly from that page after watching.

Again, your potential donors don’t want to click a lot of links. Keep it simple, and only make them click one link to give you money.

Giving Tuesday Filming On Phone

8. Give something in exchange for the donation.

Tampa Theatre did a great job of this in a previous Giving Tuesday email campaign.

While they did include a link for instant general donations, they also offered two donating options that came with perks.

One option was to purchase a ticket to a special wine tasting event being held at the theatre, and the other was to buy a year-long membership that included benefits like discounted movie tickets, early access to concert tickets, “bottomless” popcorn and soda, free backstage tours of the theatre, and invites to exclusive members-only events.

Giving Tuesday Tampa Theatre
Photo: Tampa Theatre

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

The Giving Tuesday website provides 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.

Related: Big business branding strategies on a small business budget

10. Send a final email on “Thank You Wednesday”

This is the day you can thank your email list for all of their help, recognize big donors, and announce your donation results. While you may not have a final number yet, it’s a great opportunity to continue nurturing your relationships, and share the donation numbers you do have so far.

People like to see results.


Be sure to mention additional ways that the community can support your organization as well, in case they missed Giving Tuesday.

Once you have final numbers you can send out another email, and you can also send individual thank-you messages to those who donated. Then, keep in touch and send out a year-end message of gratitude and hope for the coming new year.

Wrapping up

Whether you’re reading this in time for the current Giving Tuesday season or after it has already passed, hopefully this post has given you some Giving Tuesday email ideas you can use to drive more donations for your organization.

Remember that at the end of the day, the most important thing you can do is keep talking with your list. The most successful organizations are the ones that focus on building relationships and committing to their community all year long. Until next time, may your donations be huge, and your goals be met!

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Emma Wilhelm.