Our Perspective: #GivingTuesdayNow

May 8, 2020

“Hope isn’t canceled” …

“We’re in this together”…

“Now more than ever”

These phrases have been popping up over the last couple of months, signifying a collective desire to do something – anything – in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. And in early April, our friends at Giving Tuesday announced a new global day of unity and giving – #GivingTuesdayNow – in response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19.

But just like physical distancing, masks, and quarantines are out of the norm, so is a Giving Tuesday in May! We didn’t know what to expect on May 5th, but in the end, we liked what we saw. Here are some of ForwardPMX’s observations of this special day:

They Don’t Call Them “Best Practices” for Nothing  

Spoiler alert: There is a reason your inbox and mailbox fill up with matching gift challenges time and time again. There’s a reason that nonprofits set tangible, finite goals with deadlines. They work. These offers are enticing to donors, and when aligned with other known best practices, it’s a recipe for success. For our clients that doubled down on tried and true strategies and tactics for their organization, #GivingTuesdayNow resulted in the revenue boost necessary to continue and scale their missions.

For example, our client, the American Heart Association (AHA), made the case to their community very early on to support the increased need to fund their mission. As soon as COVID-19 hit the United States, AHA started reinforcing messaging on their core work protecting those affected by heart disease and stroke, while stepping up to respond to the coronavirus pandemic: helping medical professionals on the front lines and researchers finding answers that will lead to treatments and cures. The organization has efficiently communicated their leadership, relevance and results since this pandemic began. By the time #GivingTuesdayNow campaigns launched, audiences were primed with messaging on AHA’s specific and vital response to COVID-19 related to heart health.

For #GivingTuesdayNow, the organization came together around one goal with one voice, and made their case to donors using proven tactics for their audiences: an early preview for #GivingTuesdayNow, a public-facing revenue goal was set, a match offer was secured, and urgent fundraising messaging was deployed across web properties. Each tactic was launched using tested creative and messaging treatments to ensure the best chance for success. The result was revenue and response usually only generated during year end campaigns.

Right Offer, Right Audience

Another campaign we loved was put on by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). This organization has been working hard to show the COVID-19 related need and the impact of their work. To differentiate their offer in email, MSF set a goal of gaining 1,100 monthly donors for #GivingTuesdayNow – a smart move on a day their email subscribers may be feeling enthusiastic to make a lasting generous impact.

However, on Facebook, where MSF might be getting the attention of new and different audiences than usual, the ask was a straight appeal. A great acquisition strategy on social channels vs. the monthly upgrade ask to those a little more familiar with the work via email.

An Added Benefit

It’s no secret that the economy continues to show signs of instability right now, leaving many consumers feeling uncertain about their own financial health. From stimulus checks, to layoffs and furloughs, to businesses halting operations – financial confusion is in the air. However, we saw several organizations use their email communications to detail tax incentives made possible by the CARES Act.  One in particular was my (Bailey’s) alma mater, Flagler College, who added a distinctive footer to their #GivingTuesdayNow message. The note detailed these incentives, including the response-driving line “This means you can lower your income tax bill by giving to Flagler College today.” A clearly stated reason to give.

It’s All About the Message

ForwardPMX client, International Medical Corps (IMC), has nailed its messaging since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This organization’s tagline is “First There, No Matter Where” and the team is highly proficient in rapid response – and it showed. In core donor file messaging, IMC has been able to detail very specific needs since responders were first deployed, and simply layered this urgent message into the #GivingTuesdayNow campaign. An efficient system of sharing information and photos internally provided compelling imagery and updates to donors on efforts like emergency medical field units and psychological first aid response. The result? Response akin to a November/December Giving Tuesday campaign – which during a typical May would take a longer tail effort than just one day.

Keeping Our Eyes on TikTok

Over the last eight weeks, as time spent on social media increased while people sheltered in place, TikTok has exploded in popularity. According to Wallaroo Media, the platform’s monthly active users have increased from 650M to 800M between November 2019 and April 2020.

TikTok moves fast. Hot trends come and go from one week to the next, with the most popular videos moving to Twitter and Instagram with TikTok’s easy-to-share format.

On #GivingTuesdayNow, the American Heart Association (AHA) leveraged an existing partnership with dancers tWitch and Allison Holker Boss to create custom TikTok content. The dancing couple posted to the platform on their individual channels with a short dance challenge video using AHA’s #GivingTuesdayNow messaging and encouraging followers to donate through the customized link in bio. The video currently has over 100K views – perhaps to a newer, younger audience that might not have interacted with AHA otherwise.

For the most part, though, #GivingTuesdayNow, was largely absent from TikTok, presenting a huge opportunity for the future given the platform’s rising popularity and relative ease of use. In the future, we’ll be looking out for organizations to share both custom branded content and partnered content from influencers and celebrity partners.

United in Giving

Those are just some highlights of the remarkable campaigns we saw come together for #GivingTuesdayNow. Although we didn’t quite know what to expect, our clients saw success with this unprecedented day of unity, and we hope each organization met goals and got great learnings out of their efforts.

Finally, we must give a shout out to and celebrate nonprofits and their teams. When the traditional Giving Tuesday occurs in November or December, planning begins in July. Yet, incredibly, we saw campaigns come to life in mere weeks. Securing matches, defining messaging, producing creative, launching ads, monitoring social channels – all came together as teams navigate working from home and myriad other challenges. This collective work makes movements like Giving Tuesday possible and will greatly impact the communities your organizations serve in the months to come.

Katie Hood
And Lauren Crank
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