Giving Thoughts


Leveraging #GivingTuesday for Sustainable Year-Round Giving

By Mari Kuraishi and Kevin Conroy

The unofficial holiday known as #GivingTuesday—a one-day campaign for charitable giving celebrated after Black Friday and Cyber Monday—is now officially one of the biggest giving days of the year, and it’s only been around since 2012.

#GivingTuesday fueled $168 million in charitable donations worldwide in 2016, topping the 2015 total by 44 percent. The corporate sector has always been key to its success, Henry Timms, one of its founders, told Forbes: “[#GivingTuesday] scaled because of the creativity of the nonprofit and corporate sector and the essential goodness of people everywhere.”

While the success of #GivingTuesday and other community giving days has skyrocketed, they’re not immune from criticism. One emerging critique is that the days don’t create a sustainable source of support for nonprofits and the vulnerable communities they seek to help.

This #GivingTuesday, GlobalGiving set out to find a way to harness the momentum of the day to create recurring impact for nonprofits. We conducted two large-scale experiments with more than 200,000 potential donors on #GivingTuesday to find out if a matching incentive from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation could be leveraged to inspire recurring donations. What we found might change your company’s or nonprofit’s future #GivingTuesday strategy.

A closer look at GlobalGiving’s #GivingTuesday experiments

GlobalGiving conducts experiments year round to help nonprofits raise more money and become more effective.

For the first part of this experiment, we conducted an email-based A/B test with approximately 275,000 newsletter subscribers and previous donors. The control group was offered a standard matching offer saying that if a donor gives on #GivingTuesday, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would match the donation at 50 percent. The test group got a similar email, but this email highlighted that if the donor made a recurring donation on #GivingTuesday, their initial gift would be matched 200 percent.

For the second part of this experiment, we focused on #GivingTuesday donors on the GlobalGiving.org website who had indicated that they were giving $100 or less. We presented them with two different callouts once they made it to the donation form. In the control, users were told that if they donated today that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would match their donation at 50 percent. In the test, the donors were prompted with two radio buttons and asked to select between two options: make a one-time donation and get matched today at 50 percent or make a monthly donation and get matched today at 200 percent.

Although the standard matching offer generated a greater number of one-time donations via email, the recurring matching “upgrade” incentive generated three times the number of new recurring donations, a statistically significant finding.

First, here are the results from the email experiment:

One-Time Donation Totals One-Time Donors New Recurring Donation Total (per month) Recurring Donors Annualized Total
Control (50% match, one-time offer) $106,973 657 $893 20 $117,689
Test (200% match for new recurring donation) $51,766 426 $3,547 75 $94,330

Although the test email drove a higher quantity of recurring donations, even if you multiply by 12 to get a maximum annual impact, the test email underperformed compared to the control. This is in stark contrast to the results of the donation form experiment:

Page Views Conversions Total $ Donated New Recurring Donors New Recurring Donation Total (per month) Annualized Total
Control (50% match, one-time offer) 2,570 1,643 192,544 13 $390 $197,614
Test (200% match for new recurring donation) 2,460 1,617 179,460 63 $2,150 $205,260

Although the control cell raised more money from more donors, the test cell which prompted donors to select between a lower one-time matching offer versus a higher matching offer for starting a recurring donation led to a statistically significant increase in new recurring donations, which also resulted in a greater total amount GlobalGiving can expect to raise over a year-long period.

Recommendations for nonprofits and companies that want to fuel sustainable giving

Based on these findings, GlobalGiving recommends nonprofits keep their email appeals simple. They should focus on a clear call to action to inspire donors. The more complex their communications, the harder it typically is to get a donor to take action. However, once a donor is ready to make a donation, giving them an opportunity to select between two matching offers—a lower percentage for a one-time matching and a higher percentage for a recurring match—can lead to a significant increase in recurring donations.

If your company is providing matching funds to a nonprofit this #GivingTuesday, consider contributing a portion of funds to provide an incentive for donors to upgrade to a recurring donation. You will help build long-term support for your nonprofit and community of choice, particularly among donors giving $100 or less, and this will make #GivingTuesday matter every month.

About the authors:

Mari Kuraishi Co-Founder GlobalGiving

Mari Kuraishi

Mari co-founded GlobalGiving in 2002 with Dennis Whittle and currently leads the organization. In 2011, Mari was named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 Global Thinkers for “crowdsourcing worldsaving.” Before GlobalGiving, she worked at the World Bank where she managed and created some of the Bank’s most innovative projects, including the first ever Innovation and Development Marketplaces. Mari currently serves as chair of the board of Guidestar US. Follow Mari on Twitter at @mashenka.



Kevin Conroy Chief Product Officer GlobalGiving

Kevin Conroy
Chief Product Officer

As the Chief Product Officer at GlobalGiving, Kevin leads a talented group of programmers, system administrators, designers, communicators, marketers, and champions for customer bliss who work tirelessly to improve GlobalGiving for companies, donors, and nonprofits. Before joining GlobalGiving, Kevin designed next-generation television user interfaces and did research for a major consulting company until he realized his skills were being wasted on things that weren’t making the world a better place. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevinconroy.

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