Nonprofits that overlook #GivingTuesday are missing an opportunity to spread brand awareness, increase contributions, bolster volunteerism, and become part of a global movement. Now is the time to plan for December 1, 2015.

#GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York. It follows “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” and is about mobilizing generosity and our collective desire to contribute and volunteer. #GivingTuesday 2014 saw nonprofits in the U.S. and around the globe receiving $46 million in online donations, according to Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy. On the same day, #GivingTuesday was a trending topic on Twitter for more than 11 hours. #GivingTuesday presents nonprofits an opportunity to energize existing donors and reach new supporters, especially that ever-important and often-elusive donor group: millennials. Giving on #GivingTuesday occurs almost exclusively via social media. The movement brings philanthropy to the forefront of public conversation – at least for one day.

The time to start planning is now. Here are three immediate recommended steps to take to create an effective #GivingTuesday presence for this year:

  1.  Recruit a Committee: A successful #GivingTuesday campaign involves far more than posting on Facebook and sending a few tweets. It starts with setting a strategy that can take several months to execute. We think this task is best handled by a committee of tech-savvy, motivated, and invested volunteers led by a staffer assigned to the campaign. Creating a committee opens the door to a range of fresh ideas. It also demonstrates that the organization is serious about #GivingTuesday and willing to devote the time and resources – mostly human capital – to do it right. Alternatively, an organization should at least start by appointing a staff person to oversee the efforts. The point is, somebody needs to be in charge. 
  2.  Set a Goal :Establish a goal and state basic objectives; this is the pivotal decision of any #GivingTuesday campaign and will affect every subsequent decision and action step. Does your organization wish to change its profile? Raise money for a specific project? Attract funds for unrestricted purposes as part of the organization’s overall fundraising efforts? Start or complete your annual appeal? By answering these basic questions the focus for #GivingTuesday will be much clearer. If this is your first year participating, you may want to consider taking baby steps and aim for an easily attainable goal: a small dollar amount or slight increase in social media followers. If you have already dipped your toes into the #GivingTuesday waters, you may want to consider pushing your staff and volunteers to strive for a more ambitious goal. In our experience: the more specific the campaign goal, the more enthusiastic the response. 
  3. Formulate a Strategy: The next two or three months are the time to think about the big picture and not to stress over every tweet or Facebook post. Consider: Could your organization be in a better position to achieve its goals if it partnered with a for-profit business that has a desire to give back to its community? What about teaming with another nonprofit and working towards complementary goals? Consider how you will spread the word about your campaign. Will you only use social media or will you incorporate more traditional resources like email and snail-mail? 

Now is also the time to see what resources your organization can tap into. Be sure to register your organization as a participant on www.givingtuesday.org. It also makes sense to see if your city or county has a local #GivingTuesday group, such as www.givingtuesdaymontco.org. These groups offer avenues to exchange ideas with other organizations and provide additional ways to promote your agency.

As you begin developing the necessary action steps, weigh all options and do the research before you settle on your plan.

Regardless of your experience, goals, or aspirations, devote the necessary time and attention to #GivingTuesday. Even the most modest of campaigns can propel your organization forward and provide you with new resources to further your mission.