The Fresh Take: Post-Cyber Week and #GivingTuesday 2023 Musings

Whew. If you felt like your email, messaging, notification, and SMS inboxes reached a boiling point of volume in the lead up to, during, AND after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday, you’re not wrong.

According to ZDNet, email volume grew by 9% YoY during Cyber Week. Push notifications, SMS, and OTT (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messenger) grew by a staggering 37% YoY. On the whole, the top 30 US online retailers saw a 6% year-over-year (YoY) increase in global sales, hitting $298 billion, with US sales reaching $70.8 billion and increasing 5% YoY. 

On the whole, the impact of inflation — while improving — continued to linger and produce mixed results. We’re still crunching the numbers and making sense of this year’s Giving Tuesday returns, but here are a few things we’re keeping top of mind as we talk to both clients and colleagues in the field:

Multichannel is STILL critical.

With patterns of email and social media engagement constantly in flux, providing multiple touchpoints for your supporters to engage with, and donate to, your work is key. While organizations seemed to scale back organic social media content on Giving Tuesday, they invested more in SMS and paid social to supplement traditional email marketing efforts and drive more gifts. A rising tide lifts all boats!

More is more is more.

2023 blew 2022 volume out of the water! Looking back at the number of emails delivered to my inbox during Giving Tuesday, it’s clear: Mid-to-large-sized nonprofit organizations sent more email to counter competition in the inbox and overall dips in giving (like in 2022), but generally sent more email on Giving Tuesday itself. That was a successful tactic for many — remember, it’s quite easy for your message to get lost in an inbox inundated with dozens of messages from other organizations and retail brands.

Repeat donors and high-value customers are where it’s at.

Some of our initial analysis suggests that non-donors were a tougher nut to crack than ever this year, with first-time giving down for many. But when it came to repeat donors and customers, they stepped up in a big way this year — making BIGGER gifts and purchases to counteract the decline in first-time transactions.

Do early #GivingTuesday launches work? Maybe?

Again, lots of mixed results here. More organizations got a “head start” on Giving Tuesday this year judging by my inbox. We saw a mixed bag of results for our clients — some nearly smashed their goal before Giving Tuesday even started, and others didn’t see much of a difference in response. Test, test, test.

Don’t fear the late night email or SMS send.

Many organizations (including many that we work with!) and retail brands took a chance on late-in-the-day sends between 9-11pm — and it appears many of those emails and text messages were quite successful. Volume in my inbox started to taper off after 8pm — which meant those that did reach out faced less competition. And if you’re as forgetful as I am, or didn’t have time to complete a donation during the work day …that final reminder message before bedtime was the real kicker to give.

The co-opting of #GivingTuesday has begun.

I observed a dramatic uptick in retailers and political campaigns using the global day of nonprofit giving as a tactic to increase fundraising and sales. President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign touted a $1 million Giving Tuesday fundraising goal. Retailers like makeup brand Fenty Beauty, pet supplies brand Chewy, and clothing brand Anthropologie donating portions of customer purchases or daily revenue to nonprofit organizations. 

The bottom line

In reviewing our post-GT musings from last year, 2023 was not unlike 2022 on direct response fundraising tactics, trends, and pain points. As our team put it earlier this year after digesting M+R’s 2023 Benchmarks Study, we have to keep working harder for every dollar raised. And when it comes to Giving Tuesday and end-of-year fundraising, you have to prepare to pull out all of the stops to propel your campaign to success — and test, test, test along the way, across multiple channels, to get there.

If you’re ready to turn your digital program into a fundraising powerhouse in 2024 and pilot new ways of reaching your nonprofit’s goals, please reach out — we’d love to hear from you!

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