’Tis the season for shorter days, pumpkin-flavored everything, and… one of the most significant fundraising days of the year.

Whether you have elected to participate or not, #GivingTuesday and the Catholic-specific #iGiveCatholic have no doubt had impact on your consideration of giving strategies. At a minimum, you may find yourself fielding questions regarding the rationale for your depth of participation (or non-participation).

Though #iGiveCatholic is indeed universal, there are many variables that factor into your decision about whether getting involved is right for your overall goals and approach. As a result, the intent of this article is to equip you with a variety of considerations when it comes to embarking on this online day of giving, followed by five key success strategies should you choose to participate in any capacity.

#GivingTuesday and #iGiveCatholic is a growing phenomenon. Support of #iGiveCatholic has more than tripled since its launch in 2015, from $1.36 million in 2015 to $5.6 million last year. In the last three years alone, #GivingTuesday has grown by $100 million annually, from $168 million in 2016 to $380 million last year.

The steep increase of #GivingTuesday support should be contrasted with the Giving USA results of individual philanthropy in the United States (which totaled $427.71 billion in 2018). This begs the question: Is #GivingTuesday truly driving new philanthropy, or simply consolidating it into a specific time frame?

There’s good news and bad news about the realities of the effort. First, the good: faith-based nonprofits now receive the largest percentage of #GivingTuesday online gifts. Now, the bad: the majority of #GivingTuesday dollars, between 56-60%, is directed at nonprofits with revenues of $10 million or greater.

Don’t let the latter point deter you. You still have the opportunity to inspire success in your effort. Some of the smallest dioceses have realized the largest totals for #iGiveCatholic.

If you are debating your involvement, here are questions to ask yourself (and your team):

+ What resources do we already have in place for this campaign? Visit the sidebar to learn more about the avenues in which to participate in #iGiveCatholic.

+ What are our goals for the effort? Is it to grow awareness? To expand our donor base?

+ Do we have the resources to dedicate to the effort? Or is our motive to achieve an ambitious fundraising goal, but with limited staff and volunteer resources? (Remember that major gift fundraising should always be a focus.)

Five tips to ensure a successful start:

+ Start early: It’s never too early to brainstorm. Consider themes, fundraising techniques (eg: peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, special events), and major donor

gift matches. Talk about this year-round, even after December 3 has passed.

+ Build an integrated campaign: Create timely messaging across all marketing platforms, including print media, parish bulletins, social media, direct mail, your website, and email. Make your campaign easy to share.

+ Set goals: Be clear and consistent about your goals. More dollars? More new donors? Number of total participants? When a goal is met, be prepared to set a new one!

+ Share stories: You know the importance of stories in your work and that a primary motivator of giving is hearing stories from those who benefit directly from a donor’s gift. Testimonials on Facebook Live or Instagram are quick ways to get a story out in real time.

+ Develop a thank you plan: Always thank your donors immediately following a contribution. One way to engage volunteers is by asking them to record general thank you videos to text or email a donor.