Giving Tuesday

If you’ve donated to a nonprofit organization within the past few years, you’ve likely got an inbox full of donation requests for what some consider to be a “made-up holiday.”

The good news is that the narrative around this “new” non-holiday has finally started to turn, and people are seeing it for what it really is: an opportunity to collectively show unparalleled support to nonprofit organizations small and large who are working tirelessly to make this world a better place.

As you know, I am privileged to support thousands of nonprofit leaders worldwide. What you probably don’t know is that every year, when #GivingTuesday rolls around, we have a long discussion about whether or not they should participate in it. Why?

Why would a nonprofit organization—especially one that NEEDS the money to accomplish its mission—be unsure about participating in a national day of giving that was created to bring our hearts and minds back to a state of benevolence following cut-throat Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales?

Why would any nonprofit neglect engaging in a day of giving so widely marketed and advertised on both social and traditional media?

3 Reasons Why Nonprofits Hesitate Asking for Donations on #GivingTuesday


Even though #GivingTuesday is a national campaign, it sometimes comes right on the heels of an organization’s established annual fundraiser (e.g., an organization that supports breast cancer survivors having an annual gala in October). It’s also smack-dab in the middle of many organizations’ year-end campaigns which may account for up to 30% of the annual budget. And some communities have begun organizing their own giving days which tend to overshadow the national giving day.


When Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation began offering matching funds to nonprofits raising money on the social media platform, MANY nonprofits hopped on the bandwagon to raise double the funds for their organizations. Sadly, we all learned that the matching funds were gone within an hour (usually less) with much of the funding going to LARGE organizations. This disappointing experience left many with a bitter taste in their mouths since they had worked so hard at getting the word out.

REASON #3: FODF (FEAR OF DONOR FATIGUE) — Especially during this pandemic.

The bottom line is that nonprofit leaders are keenly aware of when and how they ask for your support, and they’re afraid of over-asking. They don’t want to appear greedy, even though they need the money to move their missions forward. How many times can you ask the same person for money before it becomes awkward?

What’s a Nonprofit to Do?

#GivingTuesday will be widely promoted whether individual nonprofits actively participate or not. The fact is #GivingTuesday has become one of the largest philanthropic days of the year, and it’s on a growth trend. Every donation matters.

I think all nonprofits should participate in the day. Regardless of their size, it makes no sense to leave money on the table when many people plan to give the day after Cyber Monday.

In the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, we have encouraged nonprofit leaders to talk with major donors and their boards to secure their own matching funds. That way, when people donate, their donations are doubled or tripled with no reliance on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s match.

Why I Give on #GivingTuesday

On #GivingTuesday, I like to make a bunch of small donations to a variety of nonprofits addressing issues about which I am passionate. I do it because (1) every little bit helps; (2) it’s encouraging to the nonprofit leaders to see donations come in on #GivingTuesday; (3) it puts me on the organization’s email list; and (4) joining forces with other donors to make a positive difference in the world just plain feels good.

Imagine what a huge difference we could make if everyone made a small donation to the causes they care about.

And while I am not a huge fan of email, I do appreciate being added to nonprofit organizations’ email lists. I don’t read every word of every email, but being on their email list gives me a front-row seat to watch them in action throughout the year, and this helps me make a more informed decision about who to support with bigger donations.

On #GivingTuesday, it feels good to spread small donations around to every organization you know is doing an amazing job! 😊🧡🌍 Share on X

I challenge you to give a little something to at least one organization before midnight this #GivingTuesday, and if you can give more, please do it. Don’t wait. Not only will your donation be greatly appreciated, it could be doubled or tripled! Every little bit helps. Really. Especially now.

* This article was originally posted on December 3, 2019. It’s been updated for the December 2020 #GivingTuesday.