Giving Tuesday – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – has become an international day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities, and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. The movement, which started in 2012, kicks off the charitable giving season.

Occurring this year on Nov. 28, Giving Tuesday is held annually after the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.

The movement has gained in popularity over the last five years and points to recent shifts in philanthropy for both individuals and nonprofit organizations. Promoted as the hashtag #GivingTuesday for purposes of activism on social media, nonprofit organizations around the country will be making appeals for supporters to contribute to their causes.

Giving Tuesday provides nonprofits with an opportunities to attract new sponsors, donors, and volunteers, according to Kyle Gammenthaler, Coordinator of Social Impact Initiatives and instructor of the Strategic Philanthropy course at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School. For nonprofit organizations looking to maximize their donations and support Gammenthaler offers the following tips:

  1. Tell your story: People are naturally drawn to stories and examples of impact. Do not simply rely on the generosity of people, but make a compelling case for why your organization is making a strategic difference in this world. Telling the community how many meals you distributed is one thing. However, it would be more advantageous to tell a story about “John Doe” and how his interactions with your organization not only filled his stomach but helped give him tools to improve his overall well-being.
  2. Develop a strategy that cultivates online and one-time givers: Year-end and online gifts can be the beginning of a long-term relationship. Figuring out a way to engage these givers is paramount to an organization’s long-term viability.
  3. Keep it simple: Make it easy for people to give. In our fast-paced world, it shouldn’t take more than one or two clicks on a website for someone to give. Make the process to give obvious, simple, and quick.
  4. Mind your manners: Follow up with givers, no matter the size, to appreciate the gift. Thank you goes a long way in developing long-term relationships with donors.
  5. It’s not all about the money: Of course, nonprofits need funds to operate, but so many people have skills, knowledge, and abilities that can drastically impact your organization and your beneficiaries. Find ways to engage and appreciate the individuals that give the “gift” of time or service.

Giving Tuesday also provides an opportunity for individuals to consider their own personal giving goals, especially in light of the ease of submitting donations online. As a result of the support of the movement by technology companies, individuals will receive a number of these appeals via their social media feeds and other digital channels. Gammenthaler offers the following tips to help individuals navigate through the many appeals:

  1. Your gift matters: Every single dollar has impact. Philanthropy and giving is not retained for only the high-end givers. Each individual and family should consider their own capacity to give and develop a strategy accordingly.
  2. Be selective: If you are having trouble determining where to give, then start locally. Look in your community to see what organizations align with your values and beliefs.  Expand this search as necessary, but find a couple organizations that you want to support and dive in.
  3. Be informed: Ask questions. Try to understand what the organization is doing to solve its mission. An informed gift is vastly more powerful than an uninformed gift. Move beyond what you “think you know” about an organization and go straight to the source.
  4. Consider your motivations: Are you giving out of obligation? A sense of duty? It feels good? You’ve been affected by the particular organization? Tax deduction? Whatever the motivation, take a look at “why” you give. Understanding your motivations may help you make more strategic decisions about your giving.

In response to recent shifts in philanthropy, Gammenthaler is also helping train the next business leaders in his new strategic philanthropy course at Mays Business School. Strategic philanthropy is heavily oriented towards the sustainable, responsible, and measurable ways in which nonprofits address and solve problems in local, national, and global communities. The Strategic Philanthropy course provides opportunities for students to practice strategic giving as a group while also developing a personal approach to philanthropy to carry forward into their personal and professional lives.

Read a related article on the award of $100,000 to nonprofits by students in the Mays Business School Strategic Philanthropy Course.