Each year, accidental fundraisers ask themselves the question, “what am I going to do this GivingTuesday?”
Whether you use GivingTuesday as a key part of your year-end campaign or leverage the day to celebrate both your partners and volunteers, this global day of giving allows you to maximize impact within your community.
As GivingTuesday celebrates its 10th anniversary, Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for Giving Tuesday, and Pete Karns, senior vice president of corporate strategy at Bonterra, dive into the results, uncovering trends and heartwarming stories from the day.
Listen in to hear why GivingTuesday had its greatest day of giving yet and how things went from both an individual and corporate giving standpoint.
In This Episode You’ll Learn:
- The most successful GivingTuesday campaigns involve multiple touches and focus on donor acquisition.
- Donor fatigue is a bad word and just not true. Data shows that when donors have the capacity to give, they remain generous when asked.
Bonus Episode Transcript
Woodrow: One thing is the younger you are, the more likely you are to consider political giving the same as charitable giving. And why not, right? Like what we’re talking about here is deploying your resources to make change where you think that change is going to have the most impact.
Kimberly: Sometimes in fundraising, you have to step outside of your comfort zone, dive in, and learn something new. I’m Kimberly O’Donnell and this is Accidental Fundraiser. This show from Network for Good and Bonterra that shares radically authentic stories from the trenches. Each year accidental fundraisers ask themselves the question, what am I going to do this GivingTuesday?
Whether you use it as a key part of your year-end campaign, or you use it to leverage the day to celebrate both partners and volunteers, or you do nothing at all. This Global Day of Giving isn’t going anywhere. GivingTuesday celebrated its 10-year anniversary this year and had its greatest day of giving yet. So how did things go on GivingTuesday?
Both from an individual and corporate giving standpoint. Listen in to hear from Woodrow Rosenbaum, GivingTuesday’s Chief Data Officer, and Pete Karns, Bonterra’s, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy. As they dive into the results, we’ll cover some of the data and some notable concerns, heartwarming stories from the day and what they see as curiosities and opportunities for 2023.
Today I am super excited to be talking with two highly experienced, highly knowledgeable people in our sector. We have Woodrow Rosenbaum here who’s the chief data officer with GivingTuesday, and we have Pete Karns, who is the general manager and Chief Product Officer of Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR at Bonterra.
Thanks for joining me today.
Pete: Yeah, good to be here, Kim.
Woodrow: Thanks for having us, Kimberly. And the same could be said for you. I’m very interested to hear your insights and thoughts on year-end fundraising today.
Kimberly: Thank you. Thank you. Yes. And so our topic is around year-end fundraising and giving. Tuesday. As we kick this off, I just have to share that I’ve been chatting with organizations of all sizes and hearing very polarizing results.
It’s a really interesting time to be talking about this and so let’s jump right into some of the high-level data points. Woodrow, would you share with us what GivingTuesday did this year, and by the way, happy 10th anniversary.
Woodrow: Thank you. Pretty exciting. It was certainly a very interesting year. Top line, It’s very encouraging. We saw 3.1 billion in donations from Americans on GivingTuesday itself, which is a record year. Which is great news obviously, and really encouraging. I think it’s showing that there’s, the sector needs this going into a year-end and what could be a difficult 2023. Certainly, it’s been challenging in the sector for a couple of years.
I will say that. Yeah, we’ve seen it was a weird year, so, beneath the surface of that kind of overall encouraging result, there’s a lot of volatility. And it was not what we would call business as usual. There are definitely some trends that we’re watching that are concerning.
Kimberly: So let’s talk about some of those trends that are concerning.
Woodrow: One thing we noticed is, and we’re still obviously an analyzing this, but what you’ve said in terms of that polarization in the market, we’re certainly seeing indications of that in a number of ways. To be frank, there’s a bigger difference, I think between really good campaigns and mediocre campaigns this year.
And it shows up in the numbers. We saw, just, generally speaking, a little departure in a lot of ways from the usual trends. And one of the things that is concerning is that although we saw both an increase in dollars and donors on GivingTuesday this year, The donors are not increasing as fast as the dollars are, and with the overall trend in the sector being fewer people giving more money, what we see is that there’s some indication that’s a trend is starting to impact GivingTuesday.
Although it wasn’t completely disconnected, we did see more donors not at the same rate now for the second year in a row. And we’re talking about the day of the year, that tends to be the most democratized and the most broad base and is still very much a grassroots giving experience. But that average donation going up we don’t feel is good news.
So more money is great, but not proportionally more engagement is something we need to be concerned about. In the past, what we’ve seen is GivingTuesday the single biggest day for donor acquisition, and I don’t think that’ll change this. But I think it might be for the wrong reasons. Acquisition is poor this year.
Engagement of grassroots givers is poor this year and although GivingTuesday had a great result, I think it’s being dragged down by some of these other industry trends that we’re seeing could be a stronger in that respect, And if that’s the kind of “canary in the coal mine,” it’s important that we understand that if that happens, if we start to see consolidation even on GivingTuesday, then it’s all that much more important that we address this more broadly.
Kimberly: Great point. And so high-level takeaway is dollars. Across the board, but fewer donors. A higher gift amount could also mean that they just weren’t giving to as many charities, right? Like with the economy, with all that’s happening right now, they may have opted to give to fewer charities and just a slightly higher gift amount, and we saw that to be true at Bonterra. We saw a base of donors, but that higher gift amount.
Woodrow: Yeah, and so just the one thing I would note is that we did see an increase in donors. It wasn’t flat, it just didn’t keep pace with the increase in dollars, and it’s still engaging a lot of people. It’s just that with those two metrics not being proportional. If it wasn’t two years in a row of this, if it wasn’t within this context of an overall consolidation in the market, I’d be less concerned about it, but right now I’m seeing this as kind of an indication that trend is so strong that it’s even affecting a day that is typically the reverse.
Kimberly: Pete, let’s step over to you and talk about corporate giving. We saw some great results on the Bonterra side in terms of generosity. 168 corporations launched GivingTuesday campaigns with their employees. We saw some fantastic employee participation. Share with us some of the insights that you have.
Pete: Well, let me start with, I think Woodrow said something that is, uh, really resonated, uh, with regards to, you know, workplace engagement. And that is there was a difference this year between good or great campaigns and mediocre campaigns.
Our corporate clients will use GivingTuesday as one element of their annual program to engage their workforce in giving time or money. What we saw this year was the clients that really leaned in to communication, using a match program as an added benefit for GivingTuesday, more communications, had successful base and grew. Kind of a rinse and repeat, and maybe gets a little bit lost in the noise with other year end activities, were flat down year over year.
Now I think we do need to zoom out a little bit. This has been, I think, a very challenging year for workplace engagement because it has been nonstop. We had a lot of clients that run racial equity programs around Martin Luther King Day. We obviously have the Russia, Ukraine conflict, which drove tremendous amount of energy and still does.
We had the ROE Wade leak and we had hurricane Ian and other weather. So it has been nonstop this year, and I know for our corporate clients that plan these programs, it’s hard to look at GivingTuesday with the same amount of energy given everything that’s happened this year. So I do think we have to look at that context, but on the whole, we are really proud to support the growth and we look forward to an early start to planning for 2023.
Kimberly: So you raised a great question. Then as you mentioned, all of the different campaigns and efforts that both corporations and nonprofits are fundraising for and competing in some ways against, although we don’t really compete in the market because it’s all good, but if we were to look at this, could an insight be that donors are fatigued and perhaps nonprofits are fatigued.
Pete: That’s the question everyone likes to ask. Right. And, I personally don’t like that term. I would rather talk about, I think the impact of inflation on the workforce and dollars being stretched in groceries and gas and heating dolls in other directions, which might limit the ability to give.
But I don’t believe fatigue exists in terms of caring, if you will. And you know, I would tell you kind of year to day. Prior to GivingTuesday, our workforce giving was up double digits. Which flies a little bit counter to this story, but we’ve seen some really healthy employee giving and corporate matching as well as, uh, really innovative uses of a dollar for doer programs using, uh, you know, event grants, which we can talk separately about to incentivize employee activity time, and money.
But we’ve seen, uh, really strong growth through the year, both with existing clients as well as new clients using and supporting employees who want to engage in the various things I mentioned this year. I think if, if we want to talk about the impact maybe of a smaller donor pool, I do think we need to look at the macroeconomic conditions and just people’s dollars not stretching charitably like they may have in the past couple of years.
Woodrow: I’m really happy to hear you say that Pete and Kimberly. You know what I think about the idea of donor fatigue. There, there is no evidence whatsoever that people are feeling less generous or less likely to step up. And although I am concerned about the longer-term trend within and in the context of, of a very strong trend, GivingTuesday set a record not just for dollars, but for donors.
People showed up. I think that, and we’ve been saying for years, the send an email that says, give to us because it’s GivingTuesday is not a, an effective way to engage. And, and it’s possible that some of the best practice wasn’t emerging because you could get an okay result with a mediocre message like that.
And this year it just didn’t perform as well. It’s not about competition, I don’t think, because what we see is that people, when they’re engaged in a way that is inspiring that they do show up time and time and time again. And in fact, the best indicator somebody’s going to give is that they gave recently, right?
Like the idea that people are tired of giving is, is, is one of the things that I think that that limits the nonprofit sector from getting the results that they might.
Pete: I would say, you know, the Cardinal rule of fundraising, you have to ask, but you have to ask smartly and, and usually more than once.
And I think that’s key. And again, I think if we should dedicate a little bit of time in this discussion to programs that work so folks that are listening can start thinking about next year or even for other day of particularly emergent day of type programs, but comms and, you know, reasons why, and, you know, and the workplace use it as an engagement tool.
Um, we can talk about tactics for that and, and to draw the energy. This is, this is GivingTuesday, right? This is, this is a movement. This is something you wanna be part. and we could wax poetically about GivingTuesday verse and Black Friday. Right? But this is, this is something you want to be part of.
And I know some of the messages that I received this year, it was kinda like, gee whiz, we know, you know, we know, we know it’s the end of the year. And they were just kind of ho hum. A lot of what I’ve saw. And it’s, uh, I think our evidence is when you get after it smartly and consistently and repeatedly, it’s there.
Woodrow: I agree with that completely. And, and the, the evidence is there, right? That when you engage people and think of them as, and address them as generous people who want to make a difference, then, then they do so. I also think that there are some other economic factors that are really affecting the, like the entire context of the year.
In fact, the last year and a half at least is nonprofits are under a lot of stress and there’s immediate need for. And that tends to drive fundraisers toward major gift stewardship as opposed to acquisition, broad-based grassroots support, which I totally understand. And I think that that is part of what’s kind of driving as, as I look across the entire marketplace over this year, lots of factors.
But I definitely see that as being one of the, one of the factors that is influencing the kind of overall results that we’re seeing all year round. And I get it. The problem is, it’s clear that organizations with a broad base of grassroots support fare much better during economic downturn. So with the bottom falling out, we are really not setting ourselves up for resilience.
Now, if you’re a nonprofit and you need a lot of money in next quarter, I understand the need to kind of direct your efforts toward short-term gains. We can’t continue to just do one or the other, and GivingTuesday has shown that it is possible to build that grassroots support and it’s going to be extremely critical next year.
Kimberly: I agree with that wholeheartedly. And I’ll also just share, anecdotally speaking with an organization and I asked them, how did you do? And she said, abysmal. It was an abysmal year for us, but then when asking it probing a little further, her fundraising staff is down 25%. So she’s struggling, you know, to keep everything rolling and we’ve seen that with high staff turnover.
Another perspective was a national, very large national organization that saw a decrease in their giving over the last two years. But when they went back to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, they realized that their return this year was three times higher than that.
And so, you know, they were thinking about, well, how does the pandemic and all of these past two years play into our gifts? The other thing that they noticed was a higher volume of online giving. They’re really going to dive into the ways this, the strategy that they are employing, um, from a digital perspective, from the multi-channel and omnichannel approaches that they’re going to be taking moving forward to engage their very large base of support and how their chapters are also focused on it.
So what we can see, and Woodrow, this goes right back to what you’re saying is that how you plan out your strategy really makes a huge difference in your performance and return. I wanna dive into something Woodrow that you mentioned to me. When we were talking about the results, which is what you were calling the shoulder days, which I, I loved, and some of the data that we’ve had at Bonterra also shows this, that when you look over the course of the week, you see a much higher return in giving across many organizations.
And so GivingTuesday is one day, but there’s actually so many days shouldered around it. Wrapped around it, where we see high levels of giving as. Yeah,
Woodrow: we haven’t analyzed that for this year yet. I’m, I, there’s some indication that GivingTuesday might have started earlier than ever this year. And you know, we can certainly see historically how much the GivingTuesday season, the giving season has grown since, since GivingTuesday started.
Statistically GivingTuesday is five days long. What we really see is a very strong lift on the day before and the three days after GivingTuesday. And so when we look at it, ith that perspective, I think it, you know, the fact that we are, that we report results for a single day kind of, um, masks some of the, some of the total impact, particularly as that intervention begins to spread out more and more and more.
So that, that really is an interesting factor and one that we’re going to be looking into in more depth, including just how the entire giving season looks because we essentially, we see this five day lift with a very strong spike on GivingTuesday. Then we’re essentially back to baseline for about a week, and then we start to ramp up into year-end about a week earlier than you would’ve seen in say, 2014.
So that entire GivingTuesday impact on, on getting our season earlier and bigger is very similar to how we kind of saw the shift in commercial sales when Black Friday became the thing, right. Black Friday was, was a, a phenomena that it, that evolved, right? But once it became something that, or that stores that retailers actually focused on and marketed against, suddenly we had a very sharp shift from the sales hype of Boxing Day sales to much earlier.
And then as everyone knows, getting earlier and earlier and earlier, everyone’s talking about Black Friday earlier and earlier. And, and driving more and more retail results as a result. Now with occasional ups and downs and, and with growth that is important and noticeable, but not as big as the growth in GivingTuesday over the years.
Pete: I would say our data as well as the subjective viewpoint alliance with that. And I think some of it’s logical, right? If you give a directly to a nonprofit, you might not have time that data come in and request the match from your, your workplace. So we see match volume. Certainly, GivingTuesday is a big data request to match, but we see that for the week for sure. We do see workplaces extending the campaign, running a full week actually running the program and communicating it like the giving week.
And while that’s not the majority, we, we have begun to see that. And, you know, as, as Woodrow well knows, the idea of a ball giving push is well established, at least in the workplace and has been around for decades. And, and continues. And while they’ve changed, that push sometimes starts in August. We’ve seen ’em start a little bit later.
Um, but they were quite successful this year in terms of participation rates and donations. I love the idea of GivingTuesday Data Commons, zooming out and looking at the big picture. I think it is gonna be a good thing for the industry to have those insights.
Woodrow: What we see very clearly is that giving moments, particularly drive participation and acquisition, two things that are really at risk right now. And so that’s really important. Learning to understand the total impact of GivingTuesday and what works and how you can think about leveraging that moment of urgency, but capitalizing on it over a longer period of time.
That’s the win. But that, I think what we really want people to understand is that’s not special to GivingTuesday. You can do that other times of the year, and we see it really clearly.
Pete: Exactly. And I, again, unproven theory, I think that’s why we’re starting to see some things pull up and shift out around and trying to get some attention.
Not unlike, uh, the retail domain has done, trying to pull the calendar up a little bit to get eyes and ears on a message before others may do. We have had that comment a few times that, hey, we’re trying some different things to see if we get some different participation rates. So that’ll be an interesting phenomenon to follow
Kimberly: Woodrow, in 2020, we had the May special GivingTuesday push, for the pandemic. I’ve heard you speak before about the concept of season-less giving. Uh, how do you think additional Giving Days and an organization taking that mindset of season, season-less giving could help them grow.
Woodrow: I think we need to think about this as a sector. The intense seasonalization of giving of fundraising in particular, not giving, because people’s generosity happens all year round. It happens lots of different times. 2020 was interesting because there were lots of things that drove people to give and it wasn’t all covid related at all. And the, although a lot of it was one of the interesting things about GivingTuesday Now, the one time we, we did an an activation outside of the usual timeframe was how organizations in every cause area were able to capitalize on that.
And that if you showed up, people were very generous. Even if you weren’t kind of in the covid fight. There’s plenty of growth room in the current end of your giving. We’re, we haven’t hit any kind of ceiling there, but the upside potential is made of July where people will give if they’re inspired, we saw it and it’s very clear in the data and that’s not when they’re asking.And I hear fundraisers at conferences talk about they ask in December, cause that’s when people give, and that’s exactly back.
Kimberly: Arguably they may have fewer dollars to give during the holidays. They’re buying gifts and, you know, doing so many things, uh, and they’re super busy.
Woodrow: Of course. And I think that, you know, organizations have limited capacity and risk capital is lacking in the nonprofit sector.
So we have to think about how we can act together. And I, I hope that GivingTuesday is an indication to the sector of what’s possible when you let go of this idea that we are in competition with one another, right? That we can actually drive a big result. And so when we see giving moments drive people, outside of that normal timeframe. What we see is that givers are very prolific, very diverse, and they’ll give to a lot of different organizations and a lot of different causes when, when called upon.
We’re going to have to do that together. When people speaking about the opportunities and the way that that corporate clients are thinking about this, I think there’s a huge opportunity there, right? To use opportunities like that, to leverage lots of givers and to get behind causes at other times of the year. And to do that really intentionally because there’s a lot of fundraising dollars being left on the table.
Kimberly: Amen. That is so true. Often because they’re just not asking. Right? They’re not asking, they’re not trying new approach. Doing the same old, same old will yield you, typically the same old, same old or less , and you’re just, you know, you’re looking at luck when you’re reaching out to the same people over and over again as well.
Pete: There’s evidence of that latent generosity, and we see it, uh, unfortunately reactionary, uh, and we, we saw it this year with some gun violence activity. We saw it this year with the Supreme Court situation with the Roe v. Wade League. We, we’ve seen it in prior years with the weather event or other. So that, that Q2 is a really interesting point.
Typically, the workplaces are doing a lot around volunteerism are coming out of the winter and the northern hemisphere and this big volunteerism push and so, so there’s some activation there. But the giving, we, we see massive responses, reactionary, and I do think there’s a lesson to be learned there for fundraisers to look at that pool and think about proactively engaging in that time.
Pete: Great point.
Kimberly: Great point. Um, I also wanna ask a question around, uh, election years and how that plays into the data.
Woodrow: One thing we don’t see is any significant kind of cannibalization of, of donation behavior. So there’s no strong signal that that nonprofit donations drop. I think there’s some really interesting things to examine.
I mean, from one thing is the younger you are, the more likely you are to consider political giving the same as charitable giving. And why not, right? Like what we’re talking about here is deploying your resources to make change where you think that that change is, is where you’re gonna have the most impact.
And policy and advocacy are some of those things. I think that what we need to understand is there’s, that actually opens up a lot of opportunity because if you’re talking about a giver who thinks very openly about all the ways that they wanna bring change, then the fact that they’re doing crowdfunding for some individual’s cause or getting involved in their community in a way that, you know, supports a mutual aid network or giving politically, these are not cannibalistic or mutually exclusive at all in.
The best indicator that anyone’s gonna take any action for good, including donating to a nonprofit, is that they did some other action for good. So this is a big opportunity, but we need to see it not as a threat. We need to understand that we are part of a partnership with people in making change in their communities, and the more engaged somebody is, the more likely they are to view you as an important way to make that change.
Kimberly: I want to step into mindset around change and trying new things and hearing some of these results. Because I know that many of our listeners will be evaluating what they’re hearing in terms of how they performed against the total results. They may come up with some excuses. Well, we just didn’t, you know, put as much energy into it this, this year.
Or we, you know, maybe we said too many emails, maybe we didn’t have the right mix. There’s lots of , there’s lots of reasons for why an organization may or may not have performed well. But as we step into 2023, what would your advice be for them as they think about effective campaigns? Ways to reach a broader, uh, group of supporters and really, you know, work to diversify their base of micro to major donors.
Pete: The first word you said there, I, I think there’s something we should chew on, which is mindset. And before we get into tactics, You know, I’m a big fan of growth mindset, and I think there’s something interesting there that you have to believe you can succeed. You have to believe it’s there. You have to believe the generosity is there and, and if there’s belief, we can get after it.
If we’re, if the mindset is not there and we’re closed, then it’s you. You know, it’s a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? We get that old saying, why do I need a plan B if I’m focused on plan A? I’m planning to fail. Admittedly that that statement’s not for everyone. Some people might say that it’s harsh. If you’re understaffed, I’m not.
But you have to go into this thinking. We can drive record participation in the workplace. We can drive new donor acquisition for a nonprofit. We can spin up an experiment with this new fundraising channel, things of that nature. So I think mindset is really important. And then we should talk about tactics and we should talk about communication and excitement and talking about the why, but I, I think mindset is a big piece of this and not writing off what you may feel would be a substandard result.
Woodrow: I don’t think I could say it any better. I mean, the, the data show that if you meet people, if you meet givers where they are, they’re going to respond, and it does require assuming the best of people.
And taking accountability for, for bringing them an opportunity to do good. Our Romanian leader said to me when I was there, just pre-pandemic, people have a fundamental human need to give. So if you look at your role as a fundraiser to fulfill that fundamental human need, you’re just going to approach the engagement differently.
And if you consider, if you’re worried that your communication with a prospect is going to be an unwelcome, intrusive solicitation. You might be righ.t
Kimberly: a thousand percent putting, uh, bad energy into those communications if that’s what you’re thinking is, and that if that’s what you’re nervous about, you’ve just said goodwill out there with all of those communications because they do want to read your appeal.
They do want to hear those stories about the amazing. Individuals or animals or whomever you are helping as part of your, and whatever you’re helping as part of your mission, you have followers who really care about it.
Woodrow: And increasingly they want more opportunities and more ways of engaging in your mission. And so making sure that it’s a relationship, that there’s a dialogue, that you give them those multiple opportunities. This is not the old school thinking and, and the donor pool has changed, but the old school thinking that you kind of have a certain amount of capital with a giver and everything, every time they contribute in any way, you’re kind of calling up some of that capital resulted in a very transactional relationship because I don’t wanna ask them or give them an opportunity to volunteer or to be an advocate or to write a letter or to whatever it is, because that’s a thing they’re doing. I’d rather get the money. But the truth is that givers increasingly look for that opportunity. We see it on GivingTuesday very clearly, but it all year round for, for all givers everywhere in the world. We’ve measured that desire for a diverse way of giving. It is very rare that someone only gives money. Very rare.
Giving money is the most common behavior on GivingTuesday, but only giving money is the least common behavior. So that’s how, what people want, right? They want lots of entry points into your mission. So that’s a great opportunity to engage with them much more often. And guess what? That’s how you get more money from them.
Pete: Yeah. Tell stories. What’s the why? Volunteerism is such an important on-ramp into giving, particularly recurring giving. So back to the full year of engagement.
Kimberly: I think another thing is also around celebrating the stories of donors of all ages, backgrounds, and ways in which they’re giving. During GivingTuesday, each year I give my children money and they pick their causes. And I don’t have any hand in it. And you know, we’ve said we’ve sent money to Africa. We, we’ve gone all over the globe and it’s fabulous. It’s just another way that as a parent I can help, you know, spread generosity and help teach generosity.
But I sent my, I sent one of the charities a note to say, this is what I do on GivingTuesday when I got their thank you note and I didn’t get a response, I didn’t get a like, Hey, that’s really cool. Not that I was looking for any, acknowledgement that way, but I thought, wow, this is a really great opportunity for them to share that story with somebody and I’m putting it out there to you to do so.
And nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. I got the same standard letters each year and, um, We gave to them again many years because my daughter really loved that charity. But that’s a big thing, like if our organizations could diversify the ways in which they’re recognizing and celebrating donors. Your board members are fabulous and they are very generous, as are your major donors, but so is what we would call that coffee cup donor.
Or the child who saved up all of their pennies to do this. I don’t know that we see enough of those broad-reaching stories because they can also be a very powerful lift for an organization as well.
Woodrow: Yeah. And again, are such, so important to, to resilience of those organizations because it’s not the coffee cup donor that changes their behavior when the market is down. It’s the bigger donors that, that are more responsive. Your organization is going to be better off with lots of smaller givers than, than being dependent on a fewer, larger donors.
Kimberly: What are some of the hard wording stories that you’ve heard this year, either from corporations that you’re working with, Pete or Woodrow, from the different charities and individuals that you worked with through GivingTuesday?
Pete: It’s hard to do that. Not call out individual nonprofits. Let me just say one thing, just to the point that was just made. A voice is a voice and someone giving $10 that tells three of their friends is exactly the same as someone that gave a hundred thousand dollars. This is where the, and I think back to political campaigns have proven this, these small grassroots can build on themselves, and particularly to your point about if you’re going to harmonize or use some of these stories, but donors are donors.
And donors advocating for a cause is, is the best kind of fundraiser you’re going to get. Right? So I, I say, by the way, same thing happens in the workplace as we see, I do, I just did this right time, the team meeting or whatnot, I got this cool note back, right? It’s logical, but to your point, it requires follow up and effort anyway.
In terms of stories, boy, again, how much time do we have? Let me just, I’ll, I’ll share something I that I’ve loved this. And back to Woodrow’s point about only giving is the least common thing that happens. We’ve seen some interesting emergence of, of the new trends, let’s call it. I mean, trends is probably even too strong of a word, where in the workplace we’re seeing programs around acts of kindness. And if you think about who utilizes a match program, he’s typically the same people. Right who utilizes a corporate dollar for doer program, you might get some new folks. It’s typically the same people. They know the programs there. So how do we get people involved? Well, people who do things in their neighborhood and their community all the time.
How do we get them to tell us about these things? So we’ve seen some, some of our more community-oriented, large local footprint clients run some of these acts of kindness campaigns. Hey, tell us about what you did. X or Y, right? Your, your neighbors are first responder and you made them dinner, or you cut the grass and those things go viral and they create a buzz and you’re having an impact on your community, which is fantastic.
You at the smallest scale, but you’re creating an on-ramp into these programs to more formally give money and time. So I, I could give a bunch of specific stories, but in terms of ringing in new participants. Finding new ways is key. I’ve been really encouraged by some of what we’ve seen this year particularly, and I’m gonna date myself here for younger generations that are newer to the workforce that might not have the free capital to make material gifts.They have time and they have a voice. How do you get to ’em? So that, that’s been something this year that I’ve loved watching. Woodrow, what about you?
Woodrow: I mean, yeah, it’s those stories that inspire. You know, I come from a commercial marketing background and I, I’ve always found it interesting how the nonprofit sector has the best stories. We had to just make it up in commercial marketing, right? So for me, at the GivingTuesday, what always stands out casuse there’s, you know, the, the really, the big campaigns and the overall donor numbers and how people got involved in, in volunteering and all, that’s like really interesting and some of that stuff in terms of tactics and strategies is very informative. But what sticks with me is the great stories. I’ll tell some stories from Canada cause that’s where I live. People in Antigonish, Nova Scotia stuffed a bus full of 1,500 pounds of food for people in need in that small community. There were 22 girls sponsored for a basketball camp in a town near where I live.
These small acts where, um, a group of kids got together in a small town and did, 700 kids there did just acts of kindness to celebrate GivingTuesday, my wife is a school teacher, her grade fours got together and wrote posters about what it meant to be generous and the change that they wanted to see in the world.
And they, based on their interests, brought in an organization that addresses climate change. And another, that addresses food insecurity, because that’s what the kids cared about. They did an art project that they turned into, cards that they stole, sold, and of those organizations and, uh, national news showed up to interview the kids.
And it was all like driven by the interests and desires of those kids. They’ll raise literally hundreds of dollars. Right? But it’s that times many, many, many thousands, right? We’re tens of millions of people across the US. We don’t know how many more in the 87 countries that have GivingTuesday movements like that promise, the delivery on the promise that, uh, many, many acts of small generosity add up to something meaningful and culture changing is what’s really moving. Those little tiny stories are actually the story.
Kimberly: That multiplier effect, and it’s been 10 years now and we’ve seen incredible growth. We’ve seen lots of opportunity and GivingTuesday is gonna continue to, to grow and be very, very relevant in our giving world as it is. So share with us a little bit about how all of this data is compiled, because I think our listeners would be really fascinated about the Data Commons and the other data sources that you draw.
Woodrow: We are really grateful for all of the, the companies and the platforms and the organizations that help us do this measurement. And frankly, you know, measuring that that single day’s activity is now a very small part of what the Data Commons does. But that’s where it started. We, this distributed open source movement was challenging to kind of get any, any benchmark of, and we. To platforms like Bonterra and payment processors like PayPal and now, uh, more than 50 companies share their GivingTuesday results dated with us.
And we use that to estimate how much was given and how many people were involved. And we know we can’t capture the whole thing, but what it does give us is a kind of, uh, an overall sense of what that volume looks. The Data Commons itself now has a mission to more broadly understand generosity. Our mission at GivingTuesday is for radical generosity.
Generosity at the core of how we build our society and our communities, and our institutions. The data commons is about understanding all the ways that people. Bring their generosity to address the needs of those communities. And so our platform partners like Bonterra help us to get a handle on what people are doing, what they care about, and what those trends look like, so that we can understand what the best practice is for engaging that support, but also give agency to those people who are making change in their community every.
Kimberly: There are two things that I want to do. One, um, before we wrap up. One, I wanted to just make sure that, that I’m accurate on the Bonterra data because we did see, so I, I want to be able to restate that and just say, you know, we saw a very slight decline in the number of donations, but we did see the average gift go up.
And then maybe I’ll flip it over to you and say, and Woodrow, what did you see? And that way we’ll be able to sort of level set that there and then they can grab whatever else was wrapped around it. I wanna share a little bit about what Bonterra saw in terms of GivingTuesday across all of our platforms.
We saw a slight decrease in the number of donors, but we actually saw an increase in the average gift and we saw the average gift, uh, go up to around $184. And among those employees that were giving through our corporate programs, we saw it go even higher at $195 per gift. Woodrow, share a little bit about what you saw across all of the GivingTuesday platforms.
Woodrow: So what we saw, I mean, overall an increase in both dollars and donors. So dollars were up. Uh, we saw, uh, record $3.1 billion donated by Americans on the. We did also see that increase in the average gift. So although we set another record for the number of donors, the donor numbers are not growing as fast as the dollars.
So this is in keeping with a kind of overall trend that we’re seeing. A lot of, a lot of trends are broken, but what you saw at Bonterra is, is seems fairly typical for larger, larger donation volumes or values. Which is in and of itself, not, not a bad thing. Like people giving more money is great, although we are a little bit concerned because the overall trend in the year is for fewer donors.
So we did see donor growth, but because it’s not proportional, we do worry that there’s a little bit of weakness in the overall market there, but very similar otherwise, um, to that, that increase in, in the average and the median donation and overall, uh, higher on both dollars and donors.
Kimberly: Thanks for that clarification. As we think about, you know, we just talked about some of the great reasons why people give the heartwarming stories. Are there any big rocks, big things that you’re concerned about as we step into 2023, that organizations should also be thinking about?
Woodrow: The general consensus is that we’re in for some sort of economic downturn, and there’s some uncertainty there that might be a recession that, uh, that’s staring us in the face.
I, I don’t think we know what kind this is not 2008 and it’s a bit tenuous right now. Like what’s, is it, are we gonna feel it in the labor market? Are we going to feel it in the stock market? And those, that uncertainty, I think, makes it challenging for organizations to know exactly where to focus. Where we are weak in the sector right now is on acquisition and retention, and particularly of small donors, the most important segment to bolster the sector through an economic decline.
So I think that we are worried about the overall trends, but GivingTuesday definitely shows that it’s possible to engage folks and more broader engagement and acquisition, I think through year end and into the first quarter of next year are going to be very, very important to set us up for success.
Pete: I agree with what Woodrow said, the only thing I’d add and, and, and Kim you mentioned this I think a little bit earlier, we have seen nonprofits startling to hire or to retain top and that does have an impact. So I do have some concerns about that. And just in terms of the efficacy and the scope of, of programs as we go into next year just given the way at which, you know, wages have been growing and just competition for talent, at least through the first three quarters of this year, I think that’s something to watch.
Although it does, it does appear macroeconomic only to those, those those trends are weakening and that should benefit the nonprofit sector.
Kimberly: Here’s some key takeaways. The most successful GivingTuesday campaigns involve multiple touches and focus on donor acquisition. Similar to what’s happening with Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
GivingTuesday has become more than just one day. Its effects span the entire week. We’re also seeing more organizations kick off their campaigns now earlier than ever. Donor fatigue is a bad word and just not true. Data shows that donors are extremely generous when asked, and when we look at corporate and employee generosity, we’re also seeing higher average gift amounts and continuous giving this past year.
So the question is, “What will you do in 2023 to freshen your donor acquisition and retention strategies?”
Yes, you can. I’m Kimberly. See you next time on Accidental Fundraiser, and be sure to follow along wherever you get your audio