GivingTuesday Strategies for Success | #3: Set Your Communications Strategy

November 22, 2019

Welcome to our third installment of the GivingTuesday Strategies for Success blog series!

So far, we’ve talked about setting SMART goals as an important first step to any project. We’ve also discussed how to define your audience for your GivingTuesday campaign. Now that you know what you want to achieve and who your audience is for this GivingTuesday, we’re going to focus on some best practices when setting your communications strategy.

We’ll focus on crafting your GivingTuesday message, establishing a clear and effective call-to-action (CTA), and adapting them to your communication channels. Getting this right can make all the difference in having a successful GivingTuesday campaign.

Remember, our Essential Guide to GivingTuesday Success is available for you to download for free for more ideas on setting your GivingTuesday campaign up for success!

Crafting Your Message

Whether your goal is to get more volunteers, raise awareness for your cause, or to fundraise, crafting the right message is a vital component to the success of your campaign and should be done with your audience in mind. You’ll need to review your audience profile and donor personas and other relevant information about your prospective supporters and put yourself in their shoes as you begin working on a message that will resonate with them. Here are some important things to consider as you begin drafting your message:

1. Use plain language and adopt a friendly tone.

With our attention span for consuming content is decreasing, keeping your message as simple as possible will be key. Using simple, easy to understand language will likely get the most engagement. Doing this will allow you to reach a wider audience, and you’ll get your message across much faster. Here is a quick list of things to consider:

  • Write in a friendly tone
  • Use simple, uncomplicated words
  • Use action words
  • Use simple descriptions
  • Write short paragraphs
  • Break ideas down into shorter sentences

2. Be clear about your ask, and the impact your supporters can make for your cause.

Being as simple as possible in the way you talk about your campaign, and clearly elaborating on what you’re trying to achieve will allow your audience to relate it to their own interests. Be sure to cover the following information about your ask:

  • Your charity
  • Your cause
  • How supporters can help

Example: This GivingTuesday, help us reach our fundraising goal of $2,500 in support of opening a new animal sanctuary in the Greater Timmins Area!

3. To make your campaign more persuasive, be clear about the impact your supporters can help you make.

Your supporters want to know that engaging in your GivingTuesday campaign will make a tangible difference. What better way to convince them than by showing them the impact they can make! Impact statements resonate more with an audience when they include information around a specific goal.

Example:This GivingTuesday, help us reach our fundraising goal of $2,500 in support of opening a new animal sanctuary in the Greater Timmins Area! You can help us provide a safe haven to over 10 animals in immediate need!

If you participated in GivingTuesday before or ran a similar campaign, talk about how your supporters’ past participation made a positive impact.

Example:Last GivingTuesday, your gift of $[X] helped save [Y] animals in desperate need of shelter and medical attention! We hope you can help us again. This year, you can make an even bigger impact by helping us raise $2,500 to save more animals! Please give today.

Here’s another approach when communicating the importance of your audience’s participation:

Your gift = Saving Animals Across The Country
If each person donated $5 to our Save the Animals campaign today, we would not only meet but surpass our $2,500 GivingTuesday goal to help open a new animal sanctuary and clinic in the Greater Timmins Area!

4. Consider including an authentic story—you’ll likely earn more trust and support from your donors if your story comes from a genuine place.

Telling an inspiring story about your cause, the work you do, and the importance of your campaign is a surefire way to capture an audience’s attention. Here are some guidelines to follow when crafting an impactful story:

Define your charity’s cause

Example: Our charity supports animal welfare in the Greater Timmins Area.

Give a face to the audience the cause impacts

Example: Every year, pets like Ben the Greyhound are mistreated by their handlers and end up dying slow, painful deaths due to the lack of proper care.

Explain the work your charity does to support the cause

Example:We have opened and maintained 3 sanctuaries where proper care and nursing are provided to animals in need so that dogs like Ben can get the proper medical attention they need for a full recovery and a chance at a happier, longer life!

Explain how your target audience can help support your cause

Example:Donate to our “Save The Animals” GivingTuesday campaign! All proceeds go towards supporting the launch of a new animal sanctuary in the Greater Timmins Area.

5. Use as many relevant images and videos

A picture tells a thousand words. It can also break up a long string of text that may lose the audience’s attention. By adding some compelling images, individuals are more inclined to finish reading your message. Here’s a great example of a compelling image paired together with a resounding message that hits home:

Amref Health Africa’s image and messaging around their MAMATOTO Gifts of health

The most important thing when creating the messaging for your campaign is to make sure that your audience will relate back to your cause, and ultimately be motivated to support you.

Now that we’ve got our messaging in place, we’ll need to pair it with an effective call-to-action.

Establishing a Clear, Simple Call-to-Action

Your GivingTuesday campaign message needs a clear, simple call-to-action (CTA) that immediately conveys what you are asking your audience to do. If you want supporters to take a specific action you’ll need to make your CTA as direct as possible. Here are some elements to consider when crafting a good CTA:

1. Start with an action-oriented verb

It’s all about being clear and concise with your CTA. Depending on the communication channels you use, you won’t necessarily have much space to get your message across. It will be important to get straight to the point and let your audience know exactly what you want them to do. Whether you’re looking to fundraise, get more volunteers, or simply create more awareness for your cause, you’ll need to adapt your CTA based on your campaign message, and line it up to your overall GivingTuesday goal. Here are some examples of common, simple, and clear CTAs:

  • “Donate Now”
  • “Please Give”

2. Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm

You want to end your message with a strong statement that will enthusiastically motivate your audience to interact with your campaign. A small, yet effective thing you can do is add an exclamation point to the end of your CTA in order to convey that enthusiasm. Here are some examples:

  • “Donate Now”
  • “Donate Now. Save The Animals!”
  • “Help Save Animals Like Ben The Greyhound. Donate Today!”
  • “Help us Raise The Money To Save The Animals!”

3. Indicate the impact or benefit to your cause

Don’t forget to include the specific impact your supporters can make in your CTA. This will remind them of how they will tangibly help your cause.

  • “Help Save Animals Like Ben The Greyhound. Donate Today!”
  • “Donate today and help us save over 10 animals in desperate need!”

4. Create a sense of urgency

To get the most amount of engagement from your audience, consider adding a sense of urgency to your CTA. Have a specific timeline incorporated into your CTA that is based on your GivingTuesday campaign goal.

  • “This GivingTuesday, Help Save Animals Like Ben The Greyhound. Hurry, There Are Only A Few Hours Left! Donate Now.”

5. Make it feel like they are a part of a movement

People are more likely to act on something when they feel like they are part of a movement or community. Try to convey that sense of community action in your CTA.

  • “Be part of our growing community of passionate, dedicated animal lovers. Please Give Today!”

We hope that these guidelines will help you create a great CTA that will move your supporters to interact positively with your cause. One way to test the effectiveness of your CTA is to send it to a coworker, a family member, or a friend, and ask them to let you know if they understood what they’re supposed to do, and if they would feel compelled to do it. Nothing beats first-hand feedback!

Once you have crafted your CTA, you’ll need to pair it with your message and adapt both across the different platforms and communications channels you select for your GivingTuesday campaign. We’ll cover this in the following section.

Choosing the Right Communication Channels

After crafting a clear campaign message and a moving CTA, your next step is to focus on identifying the best communication channels. Nowadays there are so many options for sharing your message, that there’s a tendency to try and use all at once or not taking enough advantage of the options available. Let’s work on focusing on your choice of communication channels.

What is a Communication Channel?

A communication channel is the medium or the vehicle you use to share your campaign content and spread your message. Charities often use different online and offline methods to communicate campaign messages to their audience. Your communication channels can vary greatly depending on your objectives, audience, the capacity of your team, and budget.

Each method has its pros and cons so it’s important that you choose one best suited to optimize the visibility and reach of your GivingTuesday campaign. In fact, your donor personas and audience profiles will help you determine in which ways to best reach your ideal supporter.

Regardless of the channels chosen, you’ll want to create an intuitive, easy-to-use experience that will result in the most number of people completing the desired action from your message.

Some Key Communication Channels

Here are some of the most important communication channels to consider for your GivingTuesday Campaign:


Email is probably your most effective channel for reaching your audience. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), email marketing has an average return on investment of 3800% and the highest conversion rate (resulting purchases or donations), when compared to social media and direct mail channels. For an email campaign to be successful, people need to open your message, be inspired by what they see and read, and then act. And even when readers open the email, they will give you only a few moments of their time. They will read quickly, decide quickly, act quickly, and move on quickly.

Social media

Many charitable organizations in Canada depend significantly on social media and have invested the time to (a) grow their audience; and (b) populate their feeds with action-oriented, inspiring content.

Use your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other feeds to feature your GivingTuesday campaign prominently, publicize any events you might be holding, articulate the impact of your supporters, and tell the stories that fuel your campaign.

Don’t be afraid to share your stories across multiple channels; just be sure to optimize the delivery to match the channel. Being creative you can even get more engagement out of one story on social by teasing it out, sharing different aspects of the story in different posts. When posting, include compelling visuals; studies have shown that posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than text-only posts and the importance of video is unquestionable. In 2019, it is estimated that 79% of internet traffic is video content. Use meaningful hashtags so people can find you across social media.

And, especially during the holidays, a time when Canadians are ready to give, include a link to your donation page as part of your CTA. Today, over 8% of all donations through CanadaHelps are initiated from a social media site. If your GivingTuesday campaign is centered around a fundraising initiative (just like our Save The Animals appeal), you can drive donations through social!

Paid digital advertising

There is a lot you can do with paid advertising through social media, even with a small budget. And getting started is less complicated than you might think.

Facebook and Instagram offer extensive controls for you to set your budget, monitor your performance, and adapt your spend based on results. These platforms also allow you to easily target your followers, friends of your followers, or others based on their interests and where they live.

Similarly, Twitter provides budget controls and allows you to target the followers of others active on Twitter. For example, if your organization helps children, you might find targeting your ads to followers of your local toy store effective.

Remember to be clear with your ask and target your ask by audience whenever possible:

  • If you are targeting existing followers, you’ll want to modify your messaging that implies that they are already familiar with your charity and cause.
  • If you are targeting those who are not following you, you’ll have to provide greater context with your message.

Each social media network will have its own way of working. Here are some examples of common channel-specific CTAs adapted for social media:

  • Instagram: “Double-tap to raise funds for our new animal sanctuary in Timmins!”
  • Instagram: “Click the link in our bio to donate to our Save the Animals fund!”
  • Facebook: “Take a selfie with your pet and share it on your Facebook page.”
  • Twitter: “Use #SavetheAnimals to let us know you’ve donated to our Save the Animals fund!”

Paid Search and re-targeting

Another way to drive awareness for your GivingTuesday campaign is by leveraging the power of Google and launching keyword-based paid search ads. You’ll be able to target specific groups of individuals based on the keywords they are searching for within a specific geographic area. Paid search and retargeting campaigns will yield high results, but require more time and a larger budget. Keep that in mind when you’re finalizing your GivingTuesday campaign communications plan.

In-Person Outreach

There are additional ways of engaging the supporters of your cause using in-person outreach, including street teams or launching a GivingTuesday ticketed event. This method requires a larger commitment of time on behalf of your team, but can be an effective way of generating awareness—and donations—for your cause in the local community! Regardless of the type of outreach you choose, you will need to make sure there’s a clear way for your supporters to interact with your cause. If your goal is to fundraise, be sure to have a tablet on-hand that will accept donations.

Your Website

Regardless of your chosen communications channels, traffic to your website will grow with your efforts during the season. Many will visit it immediately after reading your GivingTuesday email, social media posts, or digital ad. That means they are coming to the site with some information about your GivingTuesday campaign, who you are, and what you do. That said, many others will come directly to your homepage through online searches. For those prospective supporters, make sure that your GivingTuesday campaign and primary message are very visible on your main homepage.

GivingTuesday Donation Forms

If your objective is to fundraise this GivingTuesday, this will be a good opportunity to take advantage of all the branding and customization options CanadaHelps provides on its Donation Forms:

  1. Embed your donation form so donors never leave your site.
  2. Adjust your suggested donation amounts to capitalize on the increased generosity we typically see during the holiday season.
  3. Don’t forget to adjust your copy, imagery, and page colours to your GivingTuesday campaign.

These simple changes will make a big difference in your fundraising results.

Choosing the right mix

Choosing the right mix of communications channels will depend largely on your audience, budget, and your team.

Knowing what works best for the audience you outlined earlier in your planning process will be the starting point. For example, if your ideal supporter is younger and spends a majority of their time online, and prefers digital communication methods, then you’ll likely choose email, social media, and paid advertising as your main channels. As always, refer to your donor persona for these insights.

Your budget will also play an important role in setting your mix. If your budget is limited, you will want to focus on email and social media for your outreach. If you have some additional budget to dedicate to your campaign consider adding things such as paid social media or search engine advertising to your mix.

Finally, the size of your GivingTuesday team will help you fine-tune the amount of outreach you will be able to do. Start by limiting the number of emails and social media posts to something you know you can manage. If you’ve got more resources to support your campaign, you’ll want to drive home your message repeatedly and in different ways. Consider A/B testing email subject lines, crafting different social media posts, and sending out multiple reminders of your appeal at different times leading up to December 3rd.

Once you have considered these things and determined which mix of channels to use, you’ll have finished putting together your communications strategy. You’re now one step closer to launching your GivingTuesday campaign!

To Conclude

Taking the time to craft a compelling message is meant to persuade your audience to participate in your GivingTuesday campaign. A successful message tells a story, drives the audience to take action, and makes it clear that their participation will make a real, tangible difference. With your messaging crafted, your CTA established, and your mix of communications channels chosen, you’ll have everything you need to execute your campaign this year!

In our next blog post in this series, we’ll discuss ways to thank your supporters once your GivingTuesday campaign has come to a close. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, you can read more on best practices for a successful GivingTuesday from our Essential Guide to GivingTuesday Success!

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