Competition Heats Up on Giving Tuesday 2018

Fiercely competitive. That’s how we would describe this year’s Giving Tuesday, as our teams fought hard to break through the incredibly crowded social sphere and broader digital ecosystem, to bring our clients’ messages closer to supporters.

The numbers say it all, folks. 2018 brought more than 3.6 million gifts, totaling $380 million in donations in the US alone. In its eighth official year, the trend of increasing participation from nonprofits across the globe on Giving Tuesday is always a noteworthy one to call out, but more importantly this particular year, advertisers were in high gear. Whereas in its beginnings, Giving Tuesday campaigns may have been more predominantly focused in organic reach, the advertising layer has reached a new level of maturity that created more intense competition for brand share of donor attention and dollars. While this new level of competition challenged us, it’s also a bright sign for the industry – nonprofits are getting smarter and more sophisticated when it comes to amplifying their reach through key paid channels.

Another bright spot? People were more passionate about donating, sharing, advocating and supporting their causes than we’ve ever seen. People across all generations want to feel and see their impact in all ways possible.

Now that we’ve had time to reflect on the day’s work, here are some other trends that we noticed:

Competition on Social Particularly Fierce

Facebook alone generated $125 million in Giving Tuesday donations on its platform, meaning it was a much noisier environment from a supporter perspective. With the heightened competition came the need to increase bids more aggressively, while also accepting that costs per conversion would also rise. While those cost increases may have backed some organizations off, we knew it was necessary to have a bit more flexible budgets to allow for the desired impact. We saw similar levels of competition and CPC increases in SEM as well.

Match Mattered

Having a match made a pretty profound difference in success in the social media space this year. Overall, we saw a 74% average increase in the amount of a donation when a match was messaged. If you didn’t use matches in your social strategy this year, we would strongly recommend considering it for next.

Messaging Earlier

An interesting trend that we found in our commercial practice was the substantial increase in revenue and traffic leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, particularly on Tuesday and Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving. While this didn’t have major implications on Giving Tuesday timing and strategy this year, it is something to note for the future. Moving forward, it will be critical for nonprofits to begin warming their prospect pool prior to Giving Tuesday if they want to cut through the noise and beat some more of the competition. Because more organizations are playing in the same spaces, supporters are going to be on the lookout for causes and brands they’ve already engaged with, and find valuable to them – the key is to be there!

This year, we ramped up brand awareness efforts before Giving Tuesday, and come November 27th, we used retargeting to connect with anyone who’d viewed or engaged with the brand awareness ads from earlier that month. For one client in particular, we saw that audience generate 82% of the total prospecting revenue for the day. This means that it’s ultimately even more essential for nonprofits to engage in a true full-funnel marketing approach throughout the year, and especially in the lead up to key revenue-driving periods.

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