UNC-TV Quadruples Giving Tuesday Goal, Raises $44,117 in Single Day

Several years ago, in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, nonprofits claimed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a day to focus on fundraising and philanthropy. “Giving Tuesday” was born, and in recent years it has exploded in popularity.

“I had success with Giving Tuesday in the past at another nonprofit organization,” says Jen Newmeyer, the Director of Digital Engagement and Fundraising at UNC-TV in North Carolina. She joined UNC-TV in 2016 after 10 years of building the online platforms for a local food bank and knew Giving Tuesday could be leveraged effectively for the station. “If done right, with integrated marketing promotion, there is tremendous potential.”

Email Used on the Campaign

Last November, Newmeyer led the station in a modest Giving Tuesday effort, with a goal of raising $5,000 using social media and email. It generated around $7,400. “We were happy we got that engagement, but I knew we could do much more,” she says. So this year, on November 28, the station launched a fully integrated campaign that used practically every communications outlet apart from direct mail.

Pulling Out All the Stops

“This year, we used all the components we had available,” she says. “We pushed hard on social and invested in  social advertising. It was the main focus during our on-air fundraiser. We had a corporate partner that offered a match for us and they were in the studio that night when we were live.” Internally, the station asked staff members to approach their social media networks as ambassadors for the station. It also promoted Giving Tuesday in Centerpiece, the scheduling magazine mailed to all members. To boost the message, pre-promotional on-air spots began running more than a week before Giving Tuesday, reminding viewers that it was coming. An email appeal landed in members’ in-boxes on Giving Tuesday, followed by a thank-you email the day after.

“That was the strategy—to use all the assets that we had,” says Newmeyer. She hoped to double the previous year’s efforts and set a goal of $10,000.

The strategy was far more successful than even Newmeyer had dreamed. UNC-TV’s final tally for the day was $44,117. More than $18,000 of that was generated from online and email-based gifts. Another $19,000 came from the on-air drive, plus a $5,000 match from the corporate partner and $1,500 in call-in donations.

UNC-TV used a combination of organic and sponsored Facebook posts

Keeping it Simple

In celebrating those results, Newmeyer acknowledges that the challenge of Giving Tuesday is to break through an increasingly crowded playing field. “There’s so much going out on social media,” she says. “Everyone knows what Giving Tuesday is and expects to be bombarded.” To combat cluttered in-boxes and constant appeals from other organizations, she decided to keep the message simple. “All of our messages were very brief: ‘It’s Giving Tuesday, and we want you to give.’”

On-air videos took a little more time to explain the impact of gifts on Giving Tuesday. “We had a really nice spot that involved some of our staff members talking about the educational programming we have, the community events, the special support we have for veterans across the state,” she says, “but it was tied in with Giving Tuesday and why it’s important to contribute on this day.”

Despite wildly exceeding this year’s goal, Newmeyer says she’ll set the goal higher next year. “It’s important to keep building on the success you’ve had. You want to stretch from year to year,” she says. In 2018, she hopes to enlist more corporate partners or higher corporate match amounts. She’s also seeking external ambassadors—well-connected influencers who can spread the word, advocate for UNC-TV, and make a bigger social media impact on Giving Tuesday.

Getting Started

Staff-Supported Twitter post

For stations who are just beginning to think about a Giving Tuesday campaign, Newmeyer suggests starting small. “Keep it reasonable given the number of average donations you receive throughout the year online,” she says. Work far enough in advance that you can plan an on-air spot, get into your monthly magazine, and have marketing resources already in place as Thanksgiving approaches. “If you have money you can put toward social media ads, build from there,” she says.

She recommends adopting the strategies that have worked for your station in the past, then don’t give up. “If you don’t meet the goal or it’s not as successful as you want, there’s always the opportunity to pivot in different directions,” says Newmeyer. But add to campaigns from one year to the next rather than completely overhauling them. “Consistency with campaigns is really important year after year,” she says. “I would encourage people to dive in, but make sure they have that consistency year after year.”