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Tis the "Giving" Season: 6 Takeaways from Giving Tuesday 2018

The 2018 holiday giving season kicked off on November 27th with Giving Tuesday, the annual day dedicated to charitable philanthropy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Giving Tuesday raised approximately $380 million from four million people this year, a revenue increase of 27 percent from last year.

There were some game-changers this year that helped drive engagement and giving. Here are six insights from our observations about Giving Tuesday:

More Than Just One Day

Several organizations extended Giving Tuesday, before and after the day of giving, to maximize giving opportunities. However, with the majority of gifts still being made on Giving Tuesday, the jury is out on the benefits of stretching the holiday window, and whether the broadened emphasis is truly bringing in new dollars, or just shifting December giving earlier.

Disruption Agent: Facebook

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Facebook brought in more than $125 million, up from $45 million in 2017. With the release of new fundraising tools, waived transaction fees, and larger match amount of $7M, Facebook successfully recruited more nonprofits and their donors to make their gifts on the social network’s platform. Peer-to- peer giving through Facebook Fundraisers looks to be a new, significant factor in driving more revenue this year, but it’s too early to tell if it generated new revenue or merely captured market share from something else.

According to the Chronicle, Facebook and PayPal together offered a $7 million match for Giving Tuesday donations and saw that match gobbled up "within seconds" after 8 am Eastern time, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

Many organizations and individuals set up Facebook Fundraisers, one of the new personal fundraising tools. Interestingly, we observed that smaller, local organizations seemed to be attracting more donations than larger organizations. The “grass-roots” and “crowdfunding” feel of the fundraisers may be helping to draw donors’ attention to less known causes.

Volume was Turned WAY UP

From our observations, there was a significant increase in Giving Tuesday digital marketing this year — from emails to social posts (organic and paid), website promotions and Facebook fundraisers and more. Many organizations sent multiple email appeals, some more than five in a single day, filling inboxes. The question is, to what degree did the saturation work to bring in new dollars? We’ll have a better idea after December 31st, when we look at response by donors to the entire giving season.

It’s a Match!

Matches ruled the day. They were a motivator for Facebook gifts, and they were a part of almost every organization’s campaign. There were double matches, triple matches, large matches, “spontaneous” matches and corporate and individual matches. Matches appear to be an increasingly lucrative option for more organizations to tap into as well as a competitive advantage in the marketplace — some nonprofits may be motivated by the fact that if their peers are offering a match, and they are not, then that could be the deciding factor for potential donors.

Giving After Dark

Typically (other than on December 31st), donors make their gifts during business hours, when they are checking email and the web more often. That’s why charities strive to be in donors’ inboxes first thing in the morning. This year for Giving Tuesday however, we noticed that for some organizations, more gifts were being made at the end of the day and into the evening, rather than in the first half of the day. The increase in mid-day and evening marketing may be a factor. Or, it may signal that donors do need and respond to frequent reminders to give, indicating a necessary shift in strategy.


Blackbaud reported that twenty-nine percent of gifts were made on mobile devices, up 12 percent from 2017’s event. Mobile continues to dominate as more donors use their smartphones to view email, visit charities’ websites and, increasingly, make their gifts. Simplifying and streaming the transaction process via mobile devices remains top of the wish list for the nonprofit sector.

Now in its sixth year, Giving Tuesday has evolved from a novel idea to a powerful fundraising opportunity that every nonprofit can leverage to start the holiday giving season. Preliminary reports of this year’s results were encouraging and may signal a prosperous finish to 2018.