Getting ahead of GAgives on #GivingTuesday: Advance planning advice from top campaigners

We’ve often heard GAgives participants discuss the incomparable value of starting their campaign planning far ahead of #GivingTuesday itself. (After all, Nov. 27 will be here before you know it!) For more details, we asked a group of campaign leaders in development and communications:

What are the most important first steps for getting your #GivingTuesday campaign planning off to a strong start?

Laura Coats, Development and Communications Manager, Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta: Updating our profile is the first step, and then planning out our GAgives campaign. Our fiscal year ends in December, so GAgives on #GivingTuesday is central to our year-end fundraising plan and individual dollars total.


Lee Ann Else, Development Director, HealthMPowers: We kick off our GAgives planning with an off-site planning meeting, which includes development and virtual learning/technology staff. We discuss what worked best last year, and review the GCN-provided tools and campaign support. Most important of all, we brainstorm about how to “make it FUN” for board and staff!


Megan L. Rock, Executive Director & Partnership Development, Girl Talk: Developing a multi-platform campaign with customized content, and a corresponding timeline. Campaign elements include:

  • Social resources that are easy to use, so that others can share and promote on our behalf
  • Utilizing all of our “loyalists” to help spread our message
  • Making sure all communications have a specific ask/call to action, and
  • Building several reminders into our messaging.

Amber Harris, Director of Development, Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence: The most important first step is to make a plan. I start with the date of #GivingTuesday and work backward, making sure I give myself enough time to plan emails and social media posts, reach out to volunteer fundraisers, and incorporate #GivingTuesday information into all of our events and print materials leading up to the big day.

Sarah Richardson, Development Director, Wellspring Living: Make sure you have designated at least two staff members to lead the charge for your organization. Also, make time early on to brainstorm new ideas for improving on last year's successes.


Grace Murphy, Director of Development, Canine Assistants: We make our GAgives on #GivingTuesday a year-round event. Our volunteers have a dedicated Facebook page where they post photos that I can gather and set aside for our campaign. We also reach out to our service dog recipients on a regular basis to gather photos and videos that our donors would like to see. First steps for us are getting our volunteers and recipients involved, and getting them to understand how important this day is for future service dogs and future recipients.


From Erin Alred, Development Manager, Global Village Project: Our campaign kicks off with early discussions about our theme and strategy for the year. We've found that GAgives on #GivingTuesday is a great opportunity to launch our year-end campaign, and it's important to have a cohesive theme that can thread throughout our various appeals for November and December. Our earliest strategy discussions focus on our target audience (volunteers, new donors, etc.) for that year's campaign, timing for campaign execution, and, importantly, how we intend to leverage matching gifts. Matching gifts have been a huge part of our GAgives success, so one of the first ways we get the ball rolling is by reaching out to solicit matching funds. They allow us to start our campaign on a high note, with lots of energy to get people excited starting on day one.


From Melissa Brogdon, Director of Development and Communications, Emmaus House:

Identify influencers who are willing to champion your organization’s cause and leverage their networks on your behalf. Board members are a great first group to ask: They make natural ambassadors for your organization’s #GivingTuesday campaign.


Betsy Reid is vice president, marketing and communications for GCN.

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