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Posted on 
November 26, 2020

Year-End Donor Marketing Tips Translated from Black Friday Retailers

Even though the motivations behind them may be different, Black Friday and Giving Tuesday are & should be more alike than they are different in terms in terms of marketing. Both "holidays" are marketed to the masses to draw attention to a need and convey it with a sense of urgency. For Black Friday, the need is centered around holiday gifts (and shopping lists to complete!) to be given around the Christmas tree whereas Giving Tuesday seeks gifts given to charity that help produce "greater good" in the world. The marketing explosion promoting Black Friday over the past several years has only grown in its reach. As states, "the one-day sales bonanza has morphed into a four-day event, and spawned other “retail holidays” such as Small Business Saturday/Sunday and Cyber Monday. Stores started opening earlier and earlier on that Friday, and now the most dedicated shoppers can head out right after their Thanksgiving meal." Retailers have (from a marketing perspective) clearly conveyed the story that Black Friday is where you can finish your shopping list (i.e. meeting the need) & they can be bought at the lowest prices of the year (i.e. conveying the urgency)!

While the Black Friday "story" rings familiar, there's an untold story from many charities and causes that should be told. That story is a response to donors asking themselves "how does my charitable gift meet a need?" and "why should I donate NOW?" Because of the lack of donor storytelling (which is another way of saying 'donor marketing'), donors just aren't getting the message. The same donors that are hustling to get Black Friday specials and spend their money on gifts don't have the same sense of urgency when it comes to charitable giving...but that can change with a focus on donor marketing that is not unlike what retailers do in their Black Friday marketing.

First, every charity or nonprofit should host a Year-End Giving Catalog that equates a financial gift amount directly to where it impacts the mission of the organization. For Black Friday retailers, catalogs have made a comeback due to their effectiveness with shoppers! As the US Postal Service said, "72% of people surveyed said that catalogs make them more interested in that retailer’s products, and 84% have purchased an item after seeing it in a catalog." A catalog of giving options can help increase donor interest and engagement. For example, with World Vision, you can donate $110 USD to provide an impact of one goat and two chickens to a family in need or you can donate $30 to provide a duck that will provide eggs to a needy family for a year. These are tangible gifts that helps donors envision where the gift is actually going. If you can create these tangible giving opportunities this season, it can create a strong connection with your donor base.

Second, use this season to set giving goals and communicate those goals to your donors. Consider what Black Friday retailers have done in the past 10 years, they've communicated their own version of Black Friday and how their specials can start even before Black Friday comes around! This has had a positive marketing effect on shoppers who want to start shopping early. According to a survey by Retail-MeNot, over half of shoppers (54%) polled "plan to begin shopping for the holidays before the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend this year." In fact, shoppers want to be "in the know" about Black Friday specials so there's a whole online community of bloggers, vloggers, and resources out there solely purposed on broadcasting the best deals. With nonprofits, the needs are great this time of year and (to parallel the retail market) donors should be "in the know" about what goals and needs have yet to be met so that they can get involved! Every nonprofit should consider leveraging tools such as mass text messaging and email campaigns to spread the word to their donor audience.

Lastly, maybe most importantly, make sure your giving website is optimized and working for donors! Black Friday & Cyber Monday retailers understand that (according to, "the holiday season is busy enough as it is — shoppers don’t want to spend time waiting for their favorite ecommerce sites to load. If your online store’s pages are taking too much time, shoppers are very likely to go elsewhere." This includes mobile shopping where Google has said that (on mobile devices) 53% of visits are abandoned if the mobile site takes more than three seconds to load. Similarly, nonprofits must make their websites and giving pages ready for the influx of donations by ensuring that the site is working, loads quickly, decreases donor friction, and has a clear call to action.

If you're charity or nonprofit needs any guidance with donor marketing this year-end, contact our experienced team at Paperless Transactions & CauseDRIVEN Marketing! We're here to help you empower your mission.