Participating in #GivingTuesday is a bad idea for marketers

The Holiday season is not only accompanied by extravagant meals with family, but also many days dedicated to spending (or giving money). We have Black Friday, Cyber Monday and then #GivingTuesday, which is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving—a day centered around the act of giving charitable donations. The holiday was started in 2012 to encourage people to make donations during what we know to be a ‘giving season’.

Many charitable organizations use this day in the same way that retail stores use Black Friday or Cyber Monday to drive sales, but in this case, donations. They put their best marketing efforts into reaching their target audiences, announcing special promotions and encouraging people to give just a little more, and relies heavily on email marketing campaigns.

Although this strategy may be appropriate for retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it is not the most efficient method for charitable organizations.

First, while many charitable organizations benefit on #GivingTuesday, it occurs so late in the calendar year that most organizations risk reaching people too late for people to provide large or more meaningful gifts while competing against the best sales on large TVs and Xboxs. These organizations would be better off requesting donations earlier in the year and their donors should demand it.

By conducting email prospecting efforts being at the beginning of the year, organizations would have more potential to benefit and perfect their campaigns. It would allow them to test their messages, strategies, calls to action and potentially receive multiple gifts from the same donor.

Also, by targeting nonprofit donor email lists throughout the year, organizations could choose to target certain groups during specific times of the year. For example, a faith-based organization could rent a Christian email list prior to holiday season at various times of the year.

Another email fundraising strategy would be to target people after tax season, who are more likely to have some disposable income, and happy to learn how their previous charitable donations reduced their tax liabilities.

Donating money is not as enticing as purchasing a gift (for either oneself or a loved one), and therefore requires more of an incentive. People are not going to donate money to a charity as freely as they would decide to purchase a new Alexa-enabled device or iPad.

Think about all of the charitable organizations who sent out emails on #GivingTuesday. Imagine how cluttered people’s inboxes became. This experience causes people to feel overwhelmed, and perhaps also a bit annoyed, causing some to skip donating during what some view as the most stressful time of the year.

Even worse, your organization was trying to raise money, and the #GivingTuesday email was likely lost in the shuffle in between the Cyber Monday extension emails from BestBuy, Macy’s, 36 other charities promoting #GivingTuesday, an email from the recipient’s co-worker and another from their child’s soccer coach.

As an unintended consequence, and a likely reality, a flood of emails being sent during one specific day of the year causes email servers to go on high alert and mark many emails as spam, thereby reducing results for marketers while increasing their expenses and frustration.

Realistically, #GivingTuesday could not come at a worse time of the year. If the goal for this day of the year is for organizations to raise as much money in donations as possible, then putting in quadruple the energy for one day, late in the year, is more likely to have a higher yield if spread out on other days of the year starting earlier. It is foolhardy for marketers to bombard donors at a time when they are becoming strapped for money and forced to satisfy familial gift obligations.

After all, charities of all elks would do better by prospecting for new donors and encouraging giving on a regular schedule throughout the year as opposed to just one day of the year.

Is there a best day in the year for charitable organizations to ask for donations? Yes, every day except #GivingTuesday. Email prospecting can be a tactical marketing tool when used properly and strategically, so why get lost in the shuffle?

Contact our digital fundraising experts at Best ROI Lists to learn more.