On Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014, people from around the world raised $45.7 million for charities during a global social movement known as #GivingTuesday. The annual event was started three years ago by 92nd Street Y (a cultural and community center in NYC) and the United Nations Foundation in the United States and has since spread worldwide.

#GivingTuesday is the charitable answer to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday societal, spending movements. “While Cyber Monday and Black Friday act as a ‘measure of our nation’s economic health,’ measuring donations from Giving Tuesday ‘serves as a gauge of our nation’s philanthropic health,’ the Case Foundation said in a statement” (DesertNews.com).

So how did they gain such a phenomenal amount of followers, attention, and donations? Mainly through social media. And they did it right—this year they received 32.7 million Twitter impressions and 698,600 hashtag mentions (DesertNews.com). But those numbers don’t come from hope alone; they come from smart campaign planning.

Tons of tweets with trackable (bit.ly) links were offered to those who wished to participate, and instructed what to post when. Also given freely were images and graphics that were branded with #GivingTuesday to help spread a consistent message. The ease of what it took to get involved made #GivingTuesday easy and fun.

The campaign within the campaign was the clever #UNselfie hashtag (see examples). #GivingTuesday explains it: “Starting Nov. 2nd, we’re challenging you to give back for 30 days straight leading up to #GivingTuesday! Tag a photo every day with #UNselfie and tell us how you’ve given time, a smile, or a donation.” They smartly piggy-backed on a term, selfie, that has received incredible acclaim (positive and critical), making it an instant hit on social media. (See their Toolkit here.)

#GivingTuesday even created their own SnapChat account and encouraged fans to become followers so they could receive “fun snaps” throughout the campaign. This was a great move in an effort to reach a younger demographic, likely to help their cause go viral.

So what can your nonprofit do when promoting an event on social media?

1. Donate your time

Not many nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have a dedicated, full- or even part-time social media employee working for them. But campaigns like #GivingTuesday are worthy of the time investment. Consider hiring a part-time social media manager, or ask for people to donate their time in managing the campaign. Know that the effort you put in will result in the donations they get in return.

2. Offer a match campaign

Many people feel that their donation may not be enough to “make a difference.” But if they know that your organization will match their dollar amount, doubling their impact, it could be enough to influence potential or first-time donors. Matching donations shows that you’re just as serious about the cause as you’re asking participants to be.

3. Convenience is key

Make donation giving as convenient as possible across as many platforms as you can—online, mobile, and if you can, social. You never know when someone is going to come across your hashtag or post—it could be at home, on the subway, or a lunch break—so make sure that they are able to donate the instant they feel compelled to do so.

The Point

Social media has the ability to be an incredible channel for your nonprofit in aiding fundraising efforts and in building awareness. Just remember this—it is the people using social media that will get you what you’re looking for (whether that be donations, follows, mentions, etc.). Talk to them as you would talk to a friend. Speak the audiences’ language and use their methods of interaction. Authenticity will take you far.

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