For nonprofits that haven’t yet taken a deep dive into the phenomenal fundraising experience that is #GivingTuesday or just don’t have a clue where to start, we know it can seem overwhelming.

Although #GivingTuesday is right around the corner, this November 27th, we’re not trying to cause panic. In fact, we’re sharing a story today that shows why it’s not too late to get started if you follow the advice of one of our clients.

And here’s why you should. You’re going to want to catch the ever-growing wave of generosity being generated by #GivingTuesday. Just look at this growth:

Improbable Beginnings Don’t Predict Success

History is on your side here. Every successful endeavor starts with one small step. In fact, the story of how Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes and Family Ministries (ABCH) exponentially grew their #GivingTuesday revenue is a perfect example.

They waded in at the last minute with no prior knowledge of the growing phenomenon. Just weeks before the big day in 2014, a member of the Communications team approached Jay Boyd, ABCH’s Director of Development, with the idea of trying to raise $2,400 in 24 hours on #GivingTuesday.

At the time, that number felt audacious. Considering that they went on to raise over $16,000 that year and over $300,000 just three years later, starting small didn’t turn out to be a liability.

Start Simple

We asked Michelle Glassford, ABCH’s Director of Communication, for an inside peek at their strategy and lessons learned. Her first piece of advice: “Keep it simple.”

Seeing the potential of #GivingTuesday or the success of ABCH may tempt organizations to bite off more than they can chew, but Michelle stresses at the outset that this is the #1 pitfall to avoid. ABCH’s steadily rising success was built upon insights gained from the previous years, making growth more organic and sustainable.

While they at first seriously underestimated the power of #GivingTuesday, they also now recognize the benefits of organic growth.

“Start small,” she says. “Do what you feel inspired to do and then let it grow from there. We started with just a team of three working on #GivingTuesday and allowed ourselves time to figure out what to add the next year without becoming overwhelmed.” Now with 17 development and communications staff members focused on the campaign, they are able to take on more.

Areas to Simplify

Themes

When it comes to themes, Jay says “What our organization does for children and families is an awesome enough theme on its own. We decided that if we tried to apply a specific theme, we would end up narrowing the focus of our message.”

If you choose a theme for #GivingTuesday, make sure it’s easy to remember, obviously relevant to your cause and ties well into your call to action.

Calls To Action

When it comes to getting their donors engaged, ABCH called a brilliant play. Launching from their general message that “Every child deserves a place to call home” ABCH settled on the symbol of a house in 2015. It became a unique and popular theme that could be used year after year.

They kept their participation requests clear and simple:

1) Make a donation

2) Draw a house on your hand

3) Share a picture of your “house” on social media

4) Encourage others to give

The beauty of ABCH’s house drawing is that it is quick, easy, free, and provides a low barrier to participation, even for those who might be reticent to post images of themselves.

Your Giving Experience 

When donors experience friction in the giving process due to long forms, glitchy mobile giving or being rerouted from your website to a third-party site to complete their gift, they are less likely to finish the process.

By ABCH’s third #GivingTuesday, they had become iDonate customers, incorporating the newly  launched peer-to-peer fundraising channel. The streamlined giving process and easy-to-set-up fundraising pages provided the simplicity they needed for donors and for donation management.

So, as you can see, getting started requires a mindset that less might just be more. Naturally, good analytics that show you what worked and what didn’t will be key in helping you grow from there.

Stay tuned as we share more strategies from this #GivingTuesday rock star, including what your very first step should be.

Up Next: Giving Tuesday Winning Key #2: Matching Donations