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Following Up After #GivingTuesday: 5 Crucial Steps

Posted: 11/25/2020

Click here to read on NonProfitPRO

by Ryan Ozimek

Amid an ongoing pandemic, economic disruptions and political turmoil, the higher stakes of #GivingTuesday in 2020 can certainly feel daunting.

Remember, though, that donors have proven to be loyal and emotionally invested in the causes they care about. Back in May, #GivingTuesdayNow generated over $503 million in online donations, and many donors have reported planning to give more this year-end season than they have previously. Tapping into donors' emotional connections with your organization and making compelling, mission-centric appeals to new audiences is more important than ever going forward.

Hopefully, your organization has already outlined and begun executing a solid #GivingTuesday strategy anchored by these relationship-building best practices. But what about after #GivingTuesday How will you actively foster deeper relationships across the rest of the year-end season and into 2021?

Having a concrete follow-up strategy in place early is critical to truly be able to make the most of the season and all of the virtual-friendly #GivingTuesday ideas you've rolled out.

We've seen firsthand how essential relationship-building is for missions to attract and retain more long-term support. Here are our top recommendations for building those stronger relationships after #GivingTuesday:

  1. Automate initial thank-you messages.
  2. Start digging into your data to find trends.
  3. Create specific donor segments based on your data.
  4. Determine each donor segment's next step.
  5. Create targeted email streams for each segment.

These core steps allow you to take the most effective middle route between boring, blanket messages to every donor (which won't work in terms of relationship-building) and a completely personalized follow-up approach (which will quickly overwhelm your team). By combining your data and tech with your own donor insights, you can implement your most impactful follow-up strategy yet. Let's dive in.

1. Automate Initial Thank-You Messages

These days, most nonprofits already have this important first step down pat. However, it's worth reiterating: Immediately thanking donors for their generous gifts is essential for not only strengthening existing relationships but also beginning new ones.

It shows donors that your organization is grateful and responsive. All of your #GivingTuesday donors should be immediately greeted with a message of gratitude.

Thankfully, modern donation software makes it easy to automate initial confirmation and thank-you emails to donors, saving immeasurable time for your team. To maximize efficiency and long-term value, ensure that your donation tools integrate with your database or CRM whenever possible.

With an integration between your donation software and CRM, you automatically save all of the data generated by your engagement with donors, including transaction specifics, contact information and records of your thank-you emails. Data is key to an effective follow-up process, so start off on the right foot (and set up your future follow-up efforts for success) by accurately tracking each and every interaction with donors.

When drafting your thank-you messages, using templates can help save even more time, like Fundraising Letters' collection of thank-you letters. Just remember to fully customize your message by specifically mentioning #GivingTuesday and the on-the-ground impact that donors have on your nonprofit's mission.

2. Start Digging Into Your Data to Find Trends

Once the buzz of #GivingTuesday has subsided and you've double checked that every donor was thanked for their gift, it's time to dig into your data.

Again, an integrated system between your donation tools and your CRM is essential for this step. To get started, you'll need to filter your donation and engagement data in one of two ways:

  • By date, the span of time in which you saw the majority of #GivingTuesday activity, typically a week before #GivingTuesday to a day or two after.
  • By campaign, if you preconfigured your CRM to associate incoming data from your #GivingTuesday donation page with that specific campaign.

Once you've sorted your mass of data into a large #GivingTuesday grouping, you can dig down further with particular metrics. It'll also be helpful to pull reports on your #GivingTuesdayNow results and last year's #GivingTuesday campaign to make comparisons over time. Start identifying trends and opportunities in your data based on metrics like:

  • Average donation size
  • Changes over last year's #GivingTuesday results
  • Revenue and/or number of donations by marketing outlet or source
  • Donor retention rate over previous campaigns, including #GivingTuesdayNow
  • Number of multiple donations from individuals
  • New donor acquisition rate over previous campaigns

As you identify trends in your data, including any increases or decreases compared to past campaigns, take note of them.

Then, begin brainstorming actionable ways to either address them or make the most of them. These insights will be invaluable for shaping your strategies in the coming year. For instance, if you saw relatively few #GivingTuesdayNow donors return in December, you should revamp your outreach to those supporters in 2021.

3. Create Specific Donor Segments Based on Your Data

Once you've identified the key trends in your #GivingTuesday data that you want to act upon, you need to create donor segments, or lists of individuals, whose engagement metrics contributed to each trend. Beyond your initial thank-you emails, this step is essential for putting a more targeted follow-up strategy into action.

Use your CRM to compile a complete list of your active donors, and then filter it by relevant metrics to create #GivingTuesday-specific segments. Common examples include:

  • Retained donors from #GivingTuesdayNow or last year's #GivingTuesday
  • New donors who gave for the first time
  • Low, mid and high-value donors based on your average donation amount
  • Donors who didn't give during #GivingTuesday but have given over the past year
  • Donors who were highly engaged with your campaign online
  • Donors who attended virtual events as part of your #GivingTuesday campaign

Having concrete segments or lists like these will be necessary for structuring the rest of your follow-up process. Additionally, donor segments can provide another window through which to analyze both your #GivingTuesday performance and the broader virtual fundraising ideas and tactics that you've rolled out in 2020.

Compare your segments to find correlations. Where do they overlap, and by how much? What insights can you draw between them?

For instance, you'll likely find that many of your newly-acquired donors also gave relatively small gifts and were mostly acquired through one marketing source, like social media. Knowing this, you can develop a new social media specifically targeted at reengaging those donors and growing their donations over time.

4. Determine Each Donor Segment's Next Step

Now that you've identified key trends in your #GivingTuesday performance and developed specific segments of donors, you need to plot out concrete next steps for each segment based on your insights.

Simply put, what do you want your donors to do after giving to your campaign? Once it's time to follow up with each donor segment, this target action will heavily impact the content and strategy of your messages. Common post #GivingTuesday target actions include:

  • Subscribing to your email newsletter. This will help keep your mission on the minds of donors over the long run, making it easier to grow their support over time.
  • Making an additional donation to your broader year-end campaign. Donors who show above-average dedication or generosity should be encouraged to give again soon.
  • Signing up for virtual volunteer opportunities. For organizations that conduct online advocacy, actively funnel your influx of new grassroots donors towards volunteering.
  • Register for your next virtual event. For instance, if you're hosting a virtual year-end gala, take the opportunity to invite your target audience during this follow-up process.
  • Submit matching gift requests. If you learn a donor's employer, you can grow your revenue and build new corporate relationships through matching gifts.

For each segment of donors that you want to follow up with after #GivingTuesday, assign a specific next step like the ones listed above. Having a well-defined and targeted engagement strategy for specific types of donors is particularly important when pursuing long-term goals like increasing monthly giving or cultivating new major gifts.

5. Create Targeted Email Streams for Each Segment.

Now it's time to bring it all together. Using your data insights, donor segments and predefined next steps or target actions, create a dedicated email stream for each segment that funnels those donors towards future engagement.

By following the earlier steps outlined above, the task of developing these series of emails becomes much simpler since you'll already have a very clear sense of who you're writing to and why. This level of specificity also makes it much easier for your marketing team to report impact and tie results to particular strategies over time.

Your email streams should have a few key goals:

  • Thanking donors again for their #GivingTuesday support
  • Encouraging general long-term engagement with your mission
  • Driving that engagement toward the particular next steps that are most important or relevant for each segment

A well thought-out email series can accomplish these goals by focusing on what you already know about that donor segment and emphasizing their impact and the importance of your mission. Let's say you want to funnel newly acquired, low-level donors toward staying engaged with your organization and attending your next event. Your email series might look like this:

  1. Your automatic thank-you email after the donor makes their #GivingTuesday donation.
  2. An email thanking the donor again and explaining the concrete impact of their gift.
  3. An email sharing updates about your #GivingTuesday efforts and encouraging readers to follow you on social media (where they'll encounter more of your messaging and promotions).
  4. An email announcing your upcoming virtual event and explaining its purpose.
  5. An email giving #GivingTuesday donors a sneak peek of your event, an early-bird registration perk or simply inviting them to sign up with a direct link to your registration page.

This example is fairly simple, but it does show how an engaging email series should begin by tapping into the donor's connection to your mission and desire to know how their gift helped. Next, it encourages further engagement with your other marketing channels in order to maximize the chances that donors will see your messages and develop a connection to your brand. Finally, it funnels the reader toward the specific target actions you want them to take, in this case registering for an event (where you'll continue building your relationship).

Remember to make your asks and target actions as clear as possible for recipients. Your calls to action should be easy to identify and act upon. Clear, direct language and bold buttons that link directly to your donation, registration or other pages are a must.

Every year #GivingTuesday is a major opportunity for nonprofits of all sizes, but the unusually high stakes of #GivingTuesday in 2020 have made it more important than ever to actively make the most of any support you receive.


Chances are your organization already prioritizes follow-up after important campaigns, but if your strategy could use an upgrade to make better use of your data, now is definitely the time! By automating processes whenever possible, studying your data more effectively and developing more targeted messages for specific donor segments, you're sure to see increased engagement in 2021. Best of luck!

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