Well folks, it’s that time of the year again. For-profit companies are focused on ending the calendar year with a surplus of greenbacks (aka cheddar, cream, dollar dollar bills y’all). Hence, corporate marketing strategies like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. This year, a group of nonprofits also decided to jump on the bandwagon by infusing their own money-making trend called #Giving Tuesday.
While I’m all for year-end appeals, I must admit that #Giving Tuesday was like my last massage; it simply rubbed me the wrong way. As I read the online topics trending around fundraising, I thought to myself, “Self, why on earth would a nonprofit want to ride the coattails of the biggest commercial shopping season of the year? Did they think that the frenzy around buying the Wii U would somehow translate into equally fuzzy feelings of giving to the less fortunate?”. Turns out, that’s exactly what folks were thinking.
According to their website, #GivingTuesday’s mission is to “…create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season.” Created and endorsed by a group of nonprofits and corporations alike, #GivingTuesday is poised to change the thinking of Americans from a mindset of “getting” to “giving” during the holiday season. Sounds easy enough, right? Not really. I’m inclined to disagree for a variety of reasons:
- Oversimplifies Fundraising. Truth be told, fundraising is not easy. While I like to simplify the fundraising process through this blog, it is still hard work. Not only does raising money for a nonprofit require a solid strategy, but this strategy must happen all year round. Relegating fundraising to one day is just irresponsible (no matter the intent) and only helps to misrepresent the hard work that is needed to raise money so that a nonprofit is sustainable for years to come.
- Commercialism Rules. While I would love to see a world were altruism existed wholesale in the minds of mankind, that is just simply not the case. I mean, have you seen the frenzy that occurs the night before Black Friday? Each year, there are several news reports of people camping out in the parking lot of their local Best Buy for a chance to grab limited supplies of the “next best thing”. Let’s face it, shoppers love the holiday season just as much as corporations so creating a campaign that promotes giving at the tail end of the shopping season is unrealistic.
- “If You Build It, He Will Come.” The underlying assumption of #GivingTuesday is if you promote this day, then folks will automatically latch on and significantly change a nonprofit’s bottom line at the end of the year. Again, this just isn’t the case. While many nonprofits indeed conduct a year-end appeal, it is often the conclusion of a hard-fought fundraising strategy that began at the beginning of their fiscal year. This means that new donors are likely not included in a year-end push. Point blank, #GivingTuesday will not magically result in a crop of new donors. And if it does, they likely won’t become long-term donors unless you have a strategy to tap them again in the coming year.
What are your thoughts on #GivingTuesday? Do you know of nonprofits who have benefitted from this trend?