I’m Sick of Giving Tuesday - Here’s Why

Jamie Klobuchar
October 27, 2022

I know I’m gonna show my age with this blog, but here it goes. 

I’m sick of Giving Tuesday. 

Giving Tuesday first began in 2012 to counteract the consumerism of Cyber Monday and Black Friday. It was a call for folks to channel that money into nonprofits doing great work rather than buying an updated TV or the latest kitchen appliance. 

But most fundraisers could tell you that as a sector, we’ve strayed far from that original goal. 

Each year, the pressure is on for development staff to be the one of few lucky nonprofits that makes it ahead. This is the time of year when the board starts emailing you success stories from other nonprofits’ Giving Tuesday campaigns and asking, “Why aren’t we doing this?” 

We often don’t have a great response to this question. But I’m here to give you some concrete reasons to push back on this year’s inevitable Giving Tuesday request! 

5 reasons your nonprofit shouldn’t participate in Giving Tuesday 

  1. It’s very individualistic. Giving Tuesday pits nonprofits against each other who are working toward the same mission. Donors want nonprofits to be collaborative and work together and look for ways to solve these complex problems as a whole. But when every education nonprofit is competing for the same set of donors’ dollars on one Tuesday in November, nobody really wins. 
  2. It misses the mark. Giving Tuesday was founded to offset the “greed” of corporate holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But nonprofits’ frantic call for dollars (“give to me, not them!”) seems to contradict this very mission. 
  3. It ignores our donor base. The whole point of Giving Tuesday is to bring in a bunch of new donors who are going to give those splashy big-dollar gifts we dream of. But it doesn’t celebrate or even acknowledge the donors who sustain us every other day of the year. 
  4. Bad timing. Year-end is the busiest time of year for fundraisers. Rather than focusing on our year-end campaign or stewarding our current donor base, we’re expected to put a bunch of time into one day that borders on gimmicky and doesn’t result in many donations for the majority of nonprofits. 
  5. Misleading success stories. Many of the Giving Tuesday success stories we hear were actually the result of a major gifts campaign that lasted for months before that fated Tuesday. It’s unrealistic to think that a one-day push is going to result in huge donations, especially when every other nonprofit is trying the same thing. 

In short, nonprofits should not feel pressed by their board or senior management to hop onto an artificially-constructed campaign day that might not fit into their larger plans. 

Of course, this is not one size fits all advice. For more info, download today’s freebie, which includes a list of questions to see if participating in Giving Tuesday is worth your nonprofits’ limited time and energy this year!