4 Creative GivingTuesday Campaign Ideas for 2021, Inspired by Neon One Clients

8 min read
July 25, 2021
Rachel Clepper headshot
Rachel Clepper
Senior Content Marketing Specialist, Neon One
A dog being pet by animal shelter volunteers

It’s safe to say that planning a GivingTuesday campaign is officially a mainstay of year-end fundraising. 

So what makes a GivingTuesday campaign successful? 

Over the years, Neon One nonprofits have come up with some excellent GivingTuesday campaign ideas. They’ve also seen great results. To help you get inspired for 2020, we’re sharing some of their stories. You’ll also get some practical tips for kicking off your campaign. 

How Do You Start a GivingTuesday Campaign? 

The best way to start planning your GivingTuesday campaign is to think about what you’d like your organization to accomplish on GivingTuesday. From there you can work backward. 

Gather a group of relevant stakeholders. Use stakeholders to hammer out what you’d like to achieve. This is a great time to ask the big questions, like:

  • How does/can GivingTuesday fit into our year-end plans? 
  • What budget can we allocate for GivingTuesday? 
  • How can we stand out from the crowd on GivingTuesday? 

Once you have two to three measurable outcomes, you can start planning your campaign. 

Now, on to the ideas! 

Idea #1: Build Excitement with a Unified Strategy

To maximize day-of success, the team at Lawrence Humane created a 24-hour communication strategy. The strategy was complete with website updates, social media posts, and emails. They used this with their pre-GivingTuesday campaign promotion. This helped to create a more exciting donor experience 

“The first year we did it, we were just dipping our toes in the water,” said Meghan Scheibe, Interim Executive Director of Lawrence Humane. “Even without a big strategy in place, we still raised around $2,500. We thought was pretty great.”

What happened next? Scheibe and her team took used lessons from the first campaign to build out a better strategy.

We were able to create a specific campaign around the event. We got to use the campaign thermometer widget. People were able to watch along as we progressed. I think it got more people excited to donate.” 

Lawrence Humane's GivingTuesday campaign

The excitement paid off and Lawrence Humane received a match donor. The match donor volunteered to match all donations up to $7,500. After meeting this goal early, a stretch goal of $10,000 in matched donations was approved. By the end of the event, Lawrence Humane had raised $24,000. 

Why it Worked: 

There’s an old saying — ‘success exists at the intersection of preparation and opportunity. Much of Lawrence Humane’s success with GivingTuesday can be chalked up to just that — stellar preparation. 

By promoting their GivingTuesday campaign across multiple channels, they got their appeal to more people. This consistent, thoughtful approach to communication creates connection. Those connections drive more donations

Idea #2: Give Back to Your Loyal Supporters for Your GivingTuesday Campaign

Most organizations see their GivingTuesday campaign as an opportunity to raise more toward their year-end goal. But, with some extra TLC, it can also be an even better opportunity to let your donors know you care. 

Joy Ranch, a Christian youth home located in Woodlawn, Virginia, has a pretty unique approach to their GivingTuesday campaign. They use it as an opportunity to enhance their donor stewardship plan.

“The first year we got involved, we set up a tent outside of Walmart and gave out hot cocoa,” said Mandy Nester, who serves as the Media and Communications Specialist at Joy Ranch. 

In 2018, Joy Ranch celebrated GivingTuesday with a creative combination of fundraising and stewardship. They invited their community members to join them at their facility for games and prizes. During the event, they accepted donations to a GivingTuesday specific campaign. 

“I know GivingTuesday is usually used for fundraising but I also feel like it’s a great time to give back to the community and express our thanks,” said Nester.

Their donor appreciation efforts don’t just end at games and prizes, either. The Joy Ranch team also uses GivingTuesday as an opportunity to write 30 handwritten letters to their top donors. Likewise, they used the letter to thank them for their participation. Little touches like these are what keeps donors coming back to an organization. 

Why it Worked: 

Donors expect to see appeals in their inbox on GivingTuesday. But they are surprised if you shift the focus on them and their support of your mission creates a surprise-and-delight effect. This also helps make your organization stand out from the rest. 

Bringing stewardship to the forefront of your GivingTuesday campaign creates a unique experience. That can build a valuable sense of loyalty to your organization 

Idea #3:  Create Competition with a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

A spirited competition can take the best fundraisers and make them even better. That’s what drove one nonprofit to raise over $4,800 during their GivingTuesday campaign.

John King had never heard of GivingTuesday until he received a promotional email about it in 2016. King is the Board Chairman of Wyoming Equality, activism nonprofit dedicated to achieving equity for Wyoming’s LGBTQ communities. 

“We’re always looking for new fundraising opportunities,” said King. “When I looked into it, it just made sense.” 

During their first go at GivingTuesday, King and his team set out to raise $5,000. Their strategy included personalized mail appeals, complete with branded return envelopes and a Facebook event page. Much to their delight, they were able to quickly surpass this goal. They raised a little over $6,500 total. 

“We used Neon CRM to create the mailers,” said King. “We sent out branded GivingTuesday appeals sealed with addressed return envelopes inside. It was pretty inexpensive to do. We got a great response, so we know we got an immediate return on investment.”

The Wyoming Equality team also decided to utilize Neon CRM’s peer-to-peer fundraising capabilities to create a competition within their organization. The goal was to see who could raise the most funds.

“Everyone involved with the organization was invited to participate,” said King. “It became a really fun contest, and the winner got bragging rights for the whole year. We generated around $4,800 using Neon CRM’s social fundraising function. It was a huge success.”

Why it Worked: 

GivingTuesday’s own director of digital strategy said it herself — “if it’s the only thing you do, organize a peer-to-peer campaign.” 

Peer-to-peer campaigns mobilize your most loyal supporters. In turn, they motivate their friends, coworkers, and loved ones to give. This helps introduce your nonprofit to a ton of brand new audiences. 

Idea #4: Partner With Others Orgs in Your Community for Your GivingTuesday Campaign 

In the spring of 2020, the team at GivingTuesday recognized a need for an additional day of giving. They wanted to support those impacted by COVID-19. On March 30th, they announced that GivingTuesdayNow.

The Communities Foundation of Texas, host of the multi-million dollar community giving event North Texas Giving Day, knew they could not miss this opportunity. They wanted to support their local nonprofits. Still, their flagship Fall giving event took months of preparation. They also needed a way to capture similar success in a fraction of the time.

In the end, the CFT team was joined by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and the Dallas Cowboys. Together they hosted a one-of-a-kind giving day.

Woman in mask preparing food for North Texas' GivingTuesday campaign
Photo Credit: Klecamp Group

“It was so great for all three organizations to come together. We were able to take each of our individual strengths and different networks into the partnership. Together we were able to do something much better than what we could have done on our own.”

-Susan Swan Smith, Chief Giving Day Officer at CFT

This event was a massive success, bringing in more than $20.7 million. This money was provided to over 2,500 North Texas nonprofit organizations. They also got an additional $21.8 million contributed in COVID-19 relief funds. 

Why it Worked:

It’s like Susan Swan Smith, Chief Giving Officer at CFT says, “when you want to go fast, you go alone; when you want to go far, you go together”. 

Try celebrating GivingTuesday by working with local organizations. This opens you up to new audiences and success. It also fosters a culture of philanthropy within your community. Use the event as a way to lift up giving in your neighborhood. Using these tips you’re sure to have a winning campaign. 

What are you doing for your GivingTuesday campaign in 2021? 

We hope these campaigns have you inspired and ready for your own GivingTuesday campaign.

If you have creative #GivingTuesday campaign ideas, don’t be shy, please share them below. We’d love to hear from you! 


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