Get familiar with #GivingTuesday

Today is “Giving Tuesday” (or you may see it on social media as #GivingTuesday) for companies and colleges across the globe. So we figured what better way to tell you about the big event than to hear it from our own TargetX advancement gurus 🙂

We asked our Director of Advancement, Wendy Davis and Project Manager, Megan Sneeringer to tell us more about the day and what it means for higher ed.

What exactly is #GivingTuesday?

Megan: Check out They have a really great explanation of what it is. Simply put, “on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.” Wendy has more on the idea and history behind it.

Wendy: You’ve heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday? In 2012, an idea was conceived to inspire philanthropic giving and challenge the post-Thanksgiving commercialization that kicks off the holiday shopping season. The idea began with friends and supporters of the NYC based 92nd Street Y (with support from the United Nations), and it turned into a movement called #GivingTuesday. It is now recognized as an important part of the philanthropic tapestry, promoting awareness of thousands of non-profit organizations and their missions. From 2012 to 2013, the donations received during the one-day event nearly doubled. It is anticipated that #GivingTuesday will be equally successful this year.

How can higher ed benefit from it?

Megan: #GivingTuesday is a great opportunity for higher ed institutions to celebrate the donors, alumni, staff, students, and friends who give back. Their generosity, both in the form of philanthropy and volunteering, is critical to the future success of the institution. #GivingTuesday is a chance to say thank you and to encourage continued support.

Wendy: Last year higher education joined in on the day of giving. Most universities experience high volumes of gifts in December, and #GivingTuesday is a perfect way to kick off the month of December. It is an opportunity for institutions to send out holiday themed messages, notify their supporters of the institution’s participation in the event and watch the amazing generosity of their donors manifest in their contributions. The buzz created by all of the organizations taking part (and by all of the press coverage) will inevitably prompt alumni, friends and donors to take a peek and see if their institution is participating.

What are some good examples of #GivingTuesday practices? Where can higher ed institutions find good examples if they want to do this on campus?

Megan: There are literally hundreds of schools participating in #GivingTuesday. I got an email from my alma mater yesterday, and I started to see posts from the institutions I used to work at as well. And again, check out which has several press releases posted that highlight #GivingTuesday as a growing national movement. Wendy has some great examples from a few institutions across the country.

Wendy: There are a lot of great examples around the higher education space. Here are a few:

  • Maryville University in St. Louis is encouraging a $5 donation and asking donors to write a note stating why they support the University. What follows next? Posting an “UnSelfie” with a note of support and a picture of the donor.
  • St. Martin’s University in Lacy, Washington welcomes contributions, but they also hope that their supporters inspire others to “give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate, and help create a better community and world.” They will host a campus blood drive as part of their #GivingTuesday celebration.
  • Concordia University Texas in Austin takes the hashtag to Twitter with posts like this one promoting #GivingTuesday last year. Look for #GivingTuesday to be trending on a variety of social media networks.
  • Berklee College of Music in Boston invites supporters for a $10 donation to assist with student scholarships. They write, “In the same way that music unites us, #GivingTuesday seeks to unite the world in a global celebration of giving.” The college encourages donors, friends and supporters to spread the word on social media.
  • The College of Charleston in South Carolina published a short video on YouTube that inspires donors by showcasing students. They frame #GivingTuesday as a “national day of giving back that reminds each and every one of us that we can all make a positive impact on our communities this holiday season.”
  • The George Washington University raised over $60,000 last year during #GivingTuesday. This year the university has launched a social media and electronic campaign to promote the event, and this year GW’s #GivingTuesday campaign “will highlight and raise awareness of the university’s service efforts in communities around the world.”

You both work closely with clients using our CRM. How can CRM help colleges and universities run an effective #GivingTuesday campaign?

Megan: You could certainly email your constituents and track their interactions with your campaign. You can also drive people to your social media pages to talk about how they give back.

Wendy: Like Megan said, your CRM enables you to track communications to your base and track the outcomes of those communications. Did you acquire any brand new donors as a result of participating in #GivingTuesday? How will you continue to engage those donors? Your CRM can help you plan your marketing strategy and track the outcomes, the rest is up to you!

How have you personally experienced #GivingTuesday in your career?

Megan: As a fundraising professional, I saw first-hand the transformative impact of philanthropy, especially in higher education. People would often ask, “Don’t you hate asking for money?” And my answer was always “no”. The act of giving is a powerful endorsement, and supporting education not only changes individual lives but it strengthens the overall health of our economy and communities. To me, #GivingTuesday is about so much more than making a gift. It is not only about celebrating the many donors and volunteers that make the work of higher education institutions possible, but also about celebrating the talented students who are so deserving of this support.

Wendy: I sit on the Board of Directors the Bradley University Alumni Association. In January, the board challenged the university to participate in #GivingTuesday, and I’m proud to write that my alma mater is participating this year. I am honored to be a donor today! Happy #GivingTuesday!

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