Originally published by The News & Observer
By Lori D. R. Wiggins
On Thanksgiving Day, we’ll give thanks. Then we’ll shop deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But on Dec. 1, we’ll make our mark on #GivingTuesday, a global, digitally driven day of giving that ushers in the charitable season.
This is a critical time for most nonprofits that on average get about 40 percent of their donations of time, money and talents near the end of the year.
“It’s a perfect time to highlight what we need and to ask people to add us to their shopping lists,” said Abby McCabe, development director for Shepherd Youth Ranch, a faith-based equine therapy nonprofit near Wake Forest. The group serves children suffering from abuse, neglect, grief or loss, and their families.
“It’s also the perfect time of year for people to give to nonprofits – a time to be thankful for things we don’t think about all the time,” McCabe said. “It’s part of the tradition of giving. It was a huge success to nonprofits last year, so it’s definitely something we want to take advantage of this year.”
#GivingTuesday started in 2012 as a campaign for one nonprofit, 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center in New York City.
The idea went viral, said Caitlin Clinard, founder and president of Angel Oak Creative, a purpose-driven marketing firm in Raleigh that specializes in nonprofits.
#GivingTuesday 2014 raised $45.7 million nationally. That includes a 36 percent increase from 2013 in online donations and a 15 percent jump in the number of nonprofits that received an online donation.
North Carolina is home to more than 10,500 nonprofits. Nearly 3,000 are in the Triangle.
#GivingTuesday comes on the heels of November’s National Nonprofit Awareness Month.
It’s also perfectly timed for the Shepherd Youth Ranch Rise and Build capital campaign to raise $60,000 to buy its property.
The goal also is to expand the group’s offerings to include Bible study for kids, a tutoring program and a mentor program for graduates of its 24-week initiative for children 7-16 who have experienced trauma, said Executive Director Ashley Boswell.
Next spring, the ranch will provide 144 free sessions for children ages 4 and older with autism.
Clinard offers some tips to nonprofits gearing up for #GivingTuesday.
It’s a social media-fueled campaign, from Facebook and Twitter to email marketing and websites. Groups might consider earmarking a small budget for Facebook advertising.
They should also ensure it’s easy for donors to give via mobile devices. “Eight percent of giving is now via mobile,” Clinard said.
Nonprofits should make one clear call to action to avoid conflicting messages that leave donors too confused to donate, she said.
And for donors, Clinard suggests:
▪ Look for donation matching opportunities.
▪ Beware of scams and sound-alike names. Online research can determine whether a nonprofit is legitimate.
‘We get the word out’
Dan Sargent led Rebuilding Together of the Triangle in its first #GivingTuesday campaign last year.
The organization raised $15,000 toward its work to rehabilitate low-income families’ homes in need of critical repairs in Wake, Orange, Durham and Chatham counties.
“We work year-round, but this time of year is important for us, as well,” said Sargent, executive director of the organization that began in 1996 and now has a years-long waiting list. “End-of-year is a time when we really focus on engaging individuals with our mission in a way we don’t throughout the year.
“We get the word out,” Sargent said. “We introduce people to our work and our clients – celebrate the work we’ve done this year and ask the community to get involved and support us financially, as volunteers and as partners so we can provide for more people in the coming year.
“#GivingTuesday is a great opportunity.”