Since the first #GivingTuesday in 2012, this celebration of generosity held on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has grown exponentially to become the second largest giving day of the year. More than $1 billion was raised in the United States on that day last year. But #GivingTuesday represents more than just a day to raise needed funds.

Capitalize on new donor excitement

Many donors who participate in #GivingTuesday are new to philanthropy. They get caught up in the excitement generated by social media to “get involved,” and many feel the tug of obligation to give back to their communities after enjoying their Thanksgiving feast. Some—once they have a taste of the joy of giving— are eager to do more. Classy’s 2020 State of Modern Philanthropy report states that nonprofits can secure four to six times as many donors on this day than on any other day. More importantly, the report says that #GivingTuesday donors become recurring donors faster if their first interaction with the organization occurs on #GivingTuesday.

Develop and deepen your organization’s relationship with these donors by implementing a vigorous stewardship strategy. The best strategy to encourage repeat giving involves showing respect to them, demonstrating the impact of their contributions, and meeting or exceeding their expectations for how their contributions will be used.

The thank-you note—a best practice for showing respect

Never underestimate the power a simple thank-you wields in showing your organization’s appreciation. Many #GivingTuesday contributions are made online. Capture the email addresses of donors to provide a note of thanks to all. For more significant contributions, capture physical addresses—if possible—and send handwritten thank-yous. A heartfelt note of gratitude goes a long way in reinforcing a donor’s enthusiasm for your organization.

Get creative in describing impact

No matter whether your organization’s #GivingTuesday contributions go to a specific project or to unrestricted funds—or even if the contribution is one of time—clearly communicate how that contribution is making an impact. Perhaps you will share a simple video. Or maybe you will write about the impact in a blog post or newsletter. Think about ways you can share stories, quotes, or photos of the people that have been impacted. And remember, getting the perspective of a donor on video can also be an important means of stewardship.

Exceed expectations

Overdelivering on promises is a powerful way to connect with donors. Set robust, yet attainable goals, and then—when those goals are met or exceeded—celebrate your donors’ role in making those goals a reality.

Another way to exceed expectations is to effectively manage volunteers. Ensure that volunteers’ time is maximized with clearly defined roles and tasks. When volunteers experience joy in giving their time, they often consider making other types of investments in your organization.

Focus on the donor

It’s easy to get caught up in the energy of #GivingTuesday, and its focus on global generosity. But keep your organization’s focus squarely on donors.

“I think really focusing on the relationship with the donor, focusing on learning about what’s important to the donor as opposed to what’s important to [the organization]—i.e. hitting the numbers for some event or getting a monthly goal. It almost feels like you’re dealing with a car salesman as opposed to an advancement professional. If you are as far away from that approach as possible…the success rate of those fundraising appeals will be way higher than most other organizations. And I would imagine the donor retention percentage is also much higher.”


#GivingTuesday represents an enormous opportunity to engage with donors of all stripes—including those new to philanthropy. Having a solid stewardship plan in place will ensure your organization’s success in leveraging that initial engagement with first-time donors and deepening engagement with existing ones.