Don’t Panic! It’s NOT too late for Your Company to Leverage #GivingTuesday

Several of my clients have been asking about this coming #GivingTuesday (November 28), so I thought I’d put a blog post together to help companies leverage this great year-end giving opportunity.

#GivingTuesday sprung up in 2012 as a response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, to support the year-end giving campaigns of non-profits across the globe. It was originally developed by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact. According to, last year, 98 countries participated by making 1.64M gifts that resulted in 177M in donations to worthy organizations.

Below are some suggestions for how your company can take advantage of this worthwhile campaign while keeping your efforts simple, streamlined, and effective. After all, you don’t have a lot of lead time here! It is ideal, of course, to plan #GivingTuesday events and campaigns months in advance, but you can still make something great happen with limited time!

My biggest tip for maximizing this opportunity with limited time is to use #GivingTuesday as a kick-off date for your year-end philanthropic activities rather than seeing it as a one-day event. This will allow you more execution time and leave you with plenty of space to make an impact in your community between now and the end of this year.

PLEASE REMEMBER that it’s very easy to “help” at this time of year but HELP takes a little more energy. “help” means providing a donation of time, services, or supplies that provides less benefit to the non-profit than it does to the donor. “help” feels good but does little good. HELP means providing a donation of time, services, or supplies that provides as much or more benefit to the non-profit than it provides to the donor. HELP feels good AND does good. You’ll see me reference this phenomenon below!



Offer a Year-End Giving Match to Employees

If you already have a matching gift program, you can offer an additional match for donations made between November 28 and December 31. If you do not have an established matching gift program, you could select 1-2 causes and 1-2 local organizations and offer a set match amount for each employee donation. This will keep your administration time under control but offer some variety for employees.

Offer a Year-End Giving Match to Your Company’s Favorite Non-Profit(s)

Whether a non-profit is crowdfunding for their year-end gifts online or using direct mail (yes, snail mail is actually still a very effective method of fundraising), your company providing a match for their donations (think of sponsoring their annual appeal campaign) can help them attract new donors and help raise the donation levels of their existing contributors. This is also a great way to get your company’s name and logo in front of their audience. Consider a match from $2,500 to $10,000 to make a real impact. The non-profit can then market it as "When you make a gift of $250 or more during the holiday season, Company A will match your donation dollar for dollar, doubling the impact of your contribution."

Make a Year-End Donation on Behalf of Employees & Customers

Tired of sending expensive fruit baskets and bottles of wine to your customers? Tired of spending company funds on logo’d apparel as holiday gifts for your staff? Consider a donation to your customer or employee’s charity of choice (or the company's chosen cause) instead. A personal note from your company to the honored individual stating that a donation has been made in their name could be a far more powerful designation for those funds!

Hold a Contest on Social Media to Involve Your Customers

If you’re on social media and want to engage your customers in your year-end giving and highlight your generosity in the community, pick three of your company’s favorite non-profit organizations and let your customers vote for their winner. It’s important to obtain permission and verify collaboration with each of these non-profits ahead of time and very diplomatic to offer each a donation, based on the voting. For example: 1st place receives a $2,500 award, 2nd place receives a $1,500 award, 3rd place receives a $750 award. To make it worthwhile for everyone involved and to be sure you don’t look like Scrooge, don’t allow that 3rd place tier to go under $500.

Tie in with Your Holiday Sales Goals

If you want to leverage your donation for increased marketing return, consider a donation for “every class booked,” “every new client,” “every stay booked,” etc. Because you are gleaning clear benefit from your affiliation with this nonprofit, be sure that you have:

  • Picked ONE non-profit with which to partner, for clarity and to make the most impact
  • Communicated with and obtained permission from the beneficiary non-profit in writing before proceeding
  • Clearly communicated publicly the exact amount that will be donated for each “Buy 1 Give 1” for example, $5 donation per new membership signed from November 28 to December 31.
  • Have the check in the mail to the non-profit by December 31. It's VERY tacky for an organization to have to chase down your promised contribution.

The Department of Justice in each State takes this very seriously and will pursue fines if this is not properly handled. Some charities will require you to complete a third party fundraising application or process and this is a great way to ensure everyone’s in compliance.


Organizing a company-wide volunteer project can be a great team-building activity and have a positive impact in your community. DO REMEMBER that non-profits are typically inundated with donations and volunteer requests at this time of year, which doesn’t mean you should run for the hills, just that you should communicate clearly with your chosen organization to be sure you are being helpful and not burdening them during this time. Have a few non-profits in mind when you start exploring. Many groups plan holiday volunteering months in advance, so you’re definitely cutting it a little close.

Before calling non-profits to find the right fit for your group:

  • Know the number of volunteers you’ll have (at least a range)
  • Know the types of jobs your team is willing to perform (stuffing envelopes, cleaning, cooking, decorating, etc.)
  • Know the dates and times that would work for your group
  • Know the duration of time you’d like your experience to last (3-4 hours is typical)

Having this information to provide will make best use of everyone's time. I also VERY STRONGLY recommend that any company provide their hosting non-profit with a minimum of a $500 check along with their volunteer service in thanks for the time and energy it takes to administer a large group. $2,500 is my preferred donation amount. I cover this suggestion and more in my post Don't Make These 4 Common Employee Volunteer Program Mistakes.


Before you go nuts organizing a canned food drive, take the time to reach out to non-profits in your area to find out what they really need. For example, many homeless shelters actually need commercially-sized canned goods and have no use for the cans we have in our pantries. If your goal is to HELP, be sure you ask the non-profit what is of highest need for them at this time.

To make this task even easier, many non-profit organizations advertise a “Most Wanted” or “Wish List” on their website (or can provide it upon request) and many now have Amazon Wish Lists, which makes it really easy to shop for them. Additionally, many organizations can use gift cards.  For example, human services-type organizations can always use gas cards, grocery, or major retailer (like Target) gift cards. Visa or other "like cash" gift cards are also a great help.

“Adopting Families” for the holidays means reaching out to local non-profits to find clients or residents who could benefit from holiday meals, gift cards, or gifts that are specific to that family. This can be a really meaningful way for small business to make a deep impact and is a definite “feel good” for employees. Coordinating directly with the non-profit will ensure this wonderful donation is a HELP.


Don’t Forget the Marketing

Often times corporate philanthropic opportunities come together quickly, leaving little time to create a marketing plan to leverage these activities for the benefit of your company’s brand recognition and trust. Don't forget to communicate your good works internally, across your company and externally through your website, press releases, social media, and any e-newsletters your company routinely sends.

Check out for ideas, planning guides, campaign logos, and much more!

Kristy Krugh is the owner and principal of Wicked Philanthropic Strategies and Wicked Visible Marketing. Following 15 years of service to the non-profit sector, Kristy now works exclusively with mission-driven companies in the for-profit sector to optimize their philanthropic systems for maximum marketing, sales, constituent, and community returns. Clients from across the country engage Kristy from her home base in Bend, Oregon where she is supervised daily by her rescue Bulldog, Dunkin. Kristy offers no-risk, no-cost Corporate Giving Assessments to all prospective clients and can't wait to hear from you!