The Readers Respond: Two Unique Takes on #GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday_Israel_-_HeartBy Robert Evans

In my last post, I addressed the continued success of the #GivingTuesday idea. I pointed out that several Jewish organizations, such as The Associated: Jewish Community Federation in Baltimore, have made #GivingTuesday their own. I asked readers of to share other examples of organizations adopting creative #GivingTuesday proposals in order to give other ideas for next year. I received some interesting responses and wanted to share two with readers.

One response came from Adam Brill, Director of Communications for the Jewish National Fund. Interestingly, Mr. Brill happens to be a retired New York City Police Detective.

JNF raised $250,000 on #GivingTuesday: Through matching grants, that number has been doubled to $500,000. Many older donors sent in checks on #GivingTuesday, so the gifts are still coming in and the needle is still moving. JNF had told major donors they were hoping to raise $1 million around #GivingTuesday. The organization secured matches for up to $300,000 or a total of $600,000. In 2013, JNF raised $230,000 and that total was matched.

JNF began making periodic posts and sending out emails in September, but Brill said they were wary of inundating their donors. A week before, JNF began sharing information about partner organizations in Israel who would be the recipients of the #GivingTuesday campaign.

On #GivingTuesday itself, the organization made its landing page totally focused on #GivingTuesday. On the web, every hour, the organization would stream a video about a different partner organization. JNF also sent out several donor-segmented emails on December 2.

JNF received about 130 new donations, many of which came from participants in the campus program, JNF Futures. The average gift size for #GivingTuesday was about $200. Partner organizations included an Israeli group that encourages horseback riding as an approach to helping children living with autism.

Brill said that increased competition and awareness of #GivingTuesday propelled the organization to be “on its game” to succeed this year.

“It was definitely a much more competitive year. There was obviously more awareness,” he said. “At one point during the day, we were a little concerned, thinking maybe it was not all there like we expected.”

Another response came from Shira Garber Strosberg, who serves as the director of communications for the Solomon Schechter Day School in Boston. The school secured a $20,000 matching gift for all gifts made between November 18 and December 2 and promoted the effort through email blasts and posting original graphics on Facebook and Twitter. The school raised $38,000, surpassing the $20,000 total.

“Upon reflection, I think having the matching gift was essential, and seemed to be a motivating factor,” wrote Strosberg. “I think also launching #GivingTuesday and accepting gifts prior to the date itself helped people to find a moment in that window to make their gifts. Now, the challenge will be to build on this for next year!”

My colleagues at Evans Consulting and I couldn’t agree more.

Robert Evans, President of the Evans Consulting Group in suburban Philadelphia has more than 35 years of experience advising nonprofits on fundraising campaigns and strategic planning. A member of the Giving USA editorial review board and a board member of the Giving Institute, Mr. Evans is frequently quoted in media outlets such as The New York Times and is a regular contributor to