As the seventh anniversary of #GivingTuesday, 2019 showed this charitable day of giving has a bright future. Early reports estimate $511 million was raised online this year.

Retailers, It’s Time to Engage Shoppers for Free Shipping Day

Giving Tuesday began as a simple idea: a day encouraging people to do good. Since its inception, it has grown into a global movement, inspiring hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

As more groups take part in the movement, standing out from the crowd and inspiring action becomes harder than ever. So, to help those trying to improve the world, we’ll dive into a few trends appearing in 2019 that are sure to continue into 2020, and beyond.

For any retail brands that might be lost at this point, Giving Tuesday is the day most retail companies called Cyber Monday Tuesday. Joking aside, retail and for-profit readers should skip to trend two to see how Giving Tuesday is impacting more than just nonprofit brands.


If Giving Tuesday was your first time experiencing nonprofit marketing, you might be of the assumption people don’t donate unless their gift is doubled, tripled, or more. Nearly every charity introduces a matching gift opportunity, and the matches range from doubling to 10x (looking at you, Save the Children).

For those new to matching donations, they’re the BOGO of the nonprofit world. Your donation is doubled, or more, and it’s always for a “limited time only.”

Over the past several years, the times matched has grown out of control. While I personally hate the premise of supporters needing a match to donate, this tactic works to spur donations and cause a sense of urgency.

With inboxes crowded, most charities are sending multiple times within the day. Usually these sends progress throughout the day—becoming more and more urgent—until there’s just “minutes left” to make a difference.

For many, these repetitive messages become annoying unless there’s something new to say. I have a clock; I don’t need you telling me it’s late.

Traditionally, well-done campaigns would update you on progress toward a goal or change the message. But this year, Humane Society of the United States introduced the unlocked gift. Already starting with a match, its afternoon email message announced a new match “unlocked!” Very cool. It was a clear, new reason to get in front of supporters, and a new reason to give. Even better, this strategy is something that will work in any channel.

A similar strategy was matching opportunities only available to specific groups. Whether it be only for a first monthly gift or for a subset of supporters, nonprofits targeted these gifts with messaging that was tailored to drive specific types of donations.

It’s hard to tell if the exclusive match was honored or just marketing fluffery, but it could be effective for nonprofits in the future with limited matching funds. I’m excited to see and help develop the next evolution of this gamification strategy in the years to come.

For-profit participation

2019 Black Friday & Cyber Monday Campaigns That Captured Attention

Though most retail messaging going out on Giving Tuesday starts with “Cyber Week” or “Sale Extended,” a growing subset of for-profit brands joined the charitable movement, and for good reason. Nearly everything published on the subject will show that people expect brands to help their community.

Although messaging was rare among for-profit brands, you can see Giving Tuesday influence even when not mentioned. A quick search of the term Giving Tuesday in 2018 would pull up hundreds of examples of retail sales with plays off the name as an excuse to buy more. The same search in 2019 shows that theme is much less common, likely a result of public pushback. Additionally, more retail brands opted to forgo sale message altogether to talk instead about their philanthropic efforts.

Patagonia is a great example of how a brand can use philanthropy to increase loyalty and its cause. Throughout the year, Patagonia incorporates environmental protection messaging into its marketing because it knows its customers care. On Giving Tuesday, instead of sale messaging, Patagonia instead spoke to its match opportunities going to charities helping the environment. The charities benefit from additional messaging, a new audience, and added revenue. Patagonia sees positive sentiment and progress toward its goal of saving the earth. That’s a win-win for everyone involved.

Bonus trends


From dynamic asks to local messaging, personalization continues to be a big part of Giving Tuesday, and all nonprofit marketing. You can see an example of how we worked with The Salvation Army to personalize donation appeals in our case study.

Countdown timers

Brands have used the countdown timer GIF for years, but this year it was seen nearly everywhere. I expect to see it less next year, but it was an effective tool this year for many organizations.

Monthly donation appeal

Charity Water always has great campaigns, and this year was no different. Instead of a one-time donation that every organization was asking for, Charity Water asked for subscribers to “Join the Spring,” calling them to become a part of its monthly donor program.

News recommendations

As the movement gains steam, news organizations are becoming more and more involved in Giving Tuesday. Several this year provided lists of local groups to support or featured groups in their publications. This free press will continue and could be a great opportunity for smaller nonprofits in 2020.

Starting early & extending

Dreamforce 2019 Recap: Bringing Marketing & Customer Service Together

Several charities opened their match opportunities a week or more before Giving Tuesday and extended the match the day after. Like retail brands around Black Friday and Cyber Monday, nonprofits looking to maximize an extended time of giving will likely continue. Watch for this to become too common because losing the urgency of the day could reduce support over time, similarly to how fewer people shop on Black Friday because they know the deals will last longer.

Hopefully your Giving Tuesday was a great success and this post helps spur ideas for next year. Until then, thank you for your efforts to help change the world!

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