#GivingTuesday: Should We Jump On The Bandwagon?

In the past 2 days, I have received literally 60 email requests for political contributions.

I had made a few contributions to candidates earlier in the summer. So of late, this has been a daily occurrence. I have received emails from the candidates (even their relatives), their IPhones, their staffs, Hillary Clinton, Robert Reich, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama. The amount of money that is being raised and spent during this election cycle is astounding – in the billions!! Imagine what that money, and the creative thinking being used to elect candidates, could do to create jobs, improve education, and so much more!!

But the email barrage asking for contributions won’t end with this week’s election when all of the votes are counted (there may be runoffs in some races). #GivingTuesday will be happening on December 2nd. For the third year in a row, following Black Tuesday and Cyber Monday, not-for-profit organizations and community groups are trying to capture the “spirit” and “joy” of giving and helping people in need that has become such a part of the December holidays.

The focus is primarily on online contributions. So you can be sure that in the weeks leading up to December 2nd, particularly during Thanksgiving week, we will all again be inundated with emails from the various not-for-profit organizations to which we have contributed in the past.

Should synagogues participate in #GivingTuesday? I am a big believer that we should be asking congregants to make end of year contributions to the synagogue. Maybe December 2nd is the kickoff to this effort. There may be a lull in emails between December 2nd and December 25th. But you can bet that organizations will have another barrage of emails to be sent out during the last week of December.

I came across a couple of articles that offer interesting ideas for synagogues to consider. One of the ideas that my colleague Bob Evans suggests is that synagogues rally around a particular community project. My synagogue has many people involved in collecting donations of food to benefit a couple of local food pantries at the neighborhood ShopRite. One idea that I have is to ask for contributions to the synagogue, with 18% being earmarked for a project like this.

The challenge with emails, and direct mail, is for the piece to stand out among all of the other emails that will be in everyone’s inbox. What will cause someone to open up the synagogue’s #GivingTuesday email? How will it stand out?

And it can’t be just one email on December 2nd. There needs to be an email to announce the effort, an article, or two in the weekly email newsletter a couple of weeks before. And with email and mail, unlike asking someone in person for a contribution, you just don’t know what will cause someone to open up the email, read it, and make a contribution.

During December, development and communications professionals in not-for-profit organizations will be mapping out a series of email messages, all hoping that they will be effective. What I have learned through my own experience is that the first 3 or 4 may not do too well in terms of the response of financial support, but they are necessary in setting the stage. It is typically the last 1 or 2 emails, nearing or even on the morning of December 31st, that will be the most effective.

One other thing to consider is to use #GivingTuesday to make a concerted effort to thank synagogue volunteers and donors for all that they do to sustain the operations of the congregation.

A lot to think about with no easy answers.

2 Comments on “#GivingTuesday: Should We Jump On The Bandwagon?

  1. This year will be our 6 year in participating in an online giving day, and have collected close to a half a million dollars on those days alone, and have converted almost everyone in our congregation into monthly online givers beyond that Give to the Max Days! As big as it is for us I agree that congregations need to go into it with their eyes wide open. It comes with costs (credit card fees) but it has convience as well for the congregant who like to use their cards for the perks and convience.

    So we have decided the perks of giving congregants the convience outways the costs. Thus now we collect an average of about $10K a month in dues, donations and other payments online. In Minnesota our programs started with the goal of “getting people to give on line . . .” Yes development offices don’t like that but as a Executive Director without a development office it works for me.

    • Hey John,

      Thanks for sharing this. Shir Tikvah has always been in the forefront when it comes to philanthropy and technology, and especially online donations. Receiving $10,000 in online payments of both dues and contributions is nothing to sneeze at.

      Synagogue development directors would love that people are making gifts online. It makes the gift processing more seamless.

      As always, thanks again for taking the time to share.



      David Katowitz
      Synagogue Strategies Group

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