The week of Thanksgiving marks a marathon of getting: getting the turkey basted and the stuffing made, getting the family together, getting in the holiday spirit, getting a good spot in line at the Black Friday sale, getting everything on your shopping list, getting the kids back to school after the long weekend. Then for one day the message shifts to giving.
Dec. 3 is Giving Tuesday, the final day in the most frenzied week of the year. Since its inception in 2012, this international day of philanthropy has generated hundreds of millions of dollars for charities despite the small fortunes people have just spent in the preceding five days.
Giving Tuesday is primarily driven by social media, which allows the message of generosity to spread far and fast. That, coupled with the international invitation to donate to deserving charities, draws hundreds of new donors to nonprofits. However, studies show that many of these donors who give on Giving Tuesday are less likely to donate again to the organization at another point in the year. Therefore, while goodwill abounds on this day, lasting relationships between people and the charities they support do not.
Moreover, according to data from MobileCause, a leading fundraising software company, Giving Tuesday donors will contribute an average of $20, whereas the average gift from a one-time donor made on any other day is $100. Conclusion: Giving Tuesday donations tend to be more transactional in nature, likely because so many nonprofits vie for donors’ attention on this single day.
Whether the amount is $20 or $100 is irrelevant. All gifts from donors are gratefully received by the nonprofits they support. The relationship is equally important, though. Speaking from a nonprofit’s perspective, we want to get to know you. Obviously, you’ve identified something in our mission that’s important to you, and we want to ensure we’re serving you the best we can.
Giving Tuesday’s ambition is “to create a massive wave of generosity that lasts well beyond that day and touches every person on the planet.” An effective way to meet this goal while also building a relationship with a particular charity is to become a monthly donor. Rather than donating $20 on Giving Tuesday, consider signing up to give $5 a month. Over time, you’ll not only end up donating more to that organization, but you’ll also provide something much more valuable: peace of mind for your nonprofit’s leadership.
Think of it this way: Monthly donors are like an irrigation system for a farm. Farmers know they need reliable irrigation to meet their crops’ needs, especially during dry spells. The same is true for nonprofits. Monthly donors are a dependable source of revenue throughout the year. This type of donor keeps nonprofits nimble, enabling us to respond better to crises and opportunities as they arise without needing to do intense fundraising first. In fact, monthly donors ease the fundraising stress in general.
Fundraising is a necessary function of nonprofits and cannot be removed entirely from the day-to-day work of such organizations. However, given the political and social climate we find ourselves in as a nation, a state and a community, nonprofits are best able to meet the needs of those we serve if we have the freedom to focus more on our missions and less on cash flow.
Nonprofits understand donors work hard for their incomes, and if those individuals decide to give some of that hard-earned revenue to support our work, then we need to ensure their money is going as far as it can to sustain the programs they value. As such, monthly support helps guarantee more donated dollars go toward the cause and less toward administrative hours spent fundraising.
This year, when choosing a nonprofit to support on Giving Tuesday, ask yourself what Fairbanks would look like if that organization didn’t exist. Does that nonprofit make life better for you and the people you love? Does it add to the uniqueness and diversity of the Golden Heart City? Does it uplift the people it serves? If the answer is yes, then consider supporting that nonprofit year-round with a small monthly gift.
The National Council of Nonprofits reminds us that nonprofit organizations “protect, feed, heal, shelter, educate and nurture our bodies and spirits. Nonprofits also give shape to our boldest dreams, highest ideals and noblest causes. They turn our beliefs into action.” And that’s all because of you.
Samantha Reynolds is executive director of North Star Ballet.