#GivingSkills: Doing #GivingTuesday Differently

December 2, 2019 Danielle Holly

We’ve all heard of #GivingTuesday.  This global event, which takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this Tuesday, December 3rd) was created in 2012 as a day encouraging people to give back, a much-needed call to generosity and giving at the exact time of year where Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season often demands that we do the opposite.

What started out as an experimental initiative by the 92nd Street Y in NYC became wildly successful and many nonprofits now use #GivingTuesday as a platform to ask for donations on their digital platforms.  You don’t need to be working at a nonprofit to know that – you just need to have an inbox. #GivingTuesday tapped into a universal human desire to give back, and provided an outlet for that generosity that can be challenging to find.

Still, in many ways, this intense focus on financial giving is a misinterpretation of the intent of #GivingTuesday, originally designed to be a day focused on generosity of all kinds, encouraging giving kindness, goods, time and talent in addition to financial donations.  It also limits how many people can participate.  Many individuals don’t have the disposable income to invest in nonprofits in the way that many #GivingTuesday messages ask us to do.

But everyone has talent.  As nonprofit leaders, we should consider how we can engage individuals in giving – on #GivingTuesday and year round – more broadly defined.

At Common Impact, we’re particularly excited about the power of time and talent.  When #GivingTuesday comes around, we encourage the partners and individuals in our networks to give with their skills, not just their dollars.  We know this is easier said than done. It’s far simpler to accept financial donations than to match your needs to the particular skill sets and commitment level others have to give.  Still, there are some tricks of the trade that can help you tap into the hidden gems of talent and expertise that reside in your network.

Here are a few ways to think about engaging individuals this GivingTuesday:

  • Adopt a #givingskills mindset: As you’re discussing the challenges and projects that your nonprofit wants to tackle throughout the year, think about which of those might benefit from external perspective or expertise that you don’t have on your staff.  Those are the projects that are perfect candidates for skilled volunteers.  Use Capacity Commons, a one-stop-shop for skilled volunteering, to help you scope the right project and find skilled volunteers. If you have an arsenal of potential pro bono projects at the ready, once #GivingTuesday comes around, you’ll have plenty of options to shop to your potential volunteers.
  • Engage your service recipients and customers: The individuals that know most about your organization, and could potentially offer the strongest, most enthusiastic support, are those that benefit from your services.  While engaging service recipients in giving back to your organization is not a possibility for every nonprofit, many organizations have engaged their beneficiaries in advisory roles to help them understand how to shape their programs and services to match the evolving needs of their recipient community. 
  • Transform your donors: We’re not suggesting that you stop asking for donations.  Individual giving is an incredibly important part of many organizations’ financial health – and often provides the much-needed capacity building dollars needed to expand our programs.  Make sure your donor community knows you’re interested in more than just their wallets.  As new donors come through your doors, share your pro bono project inventory, your upcoming volunteer events or your wish list items so they can become engaged with your organization beyond their donations.

What are the other ways you’re doing #GivingTuesday differently?  How are your networks #givingskills?

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