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How to Get the Most Out of Giving Tuesday Challenge Grants

Giving Tuesday and Challenge Grants, tablet device with online giving option on screen

Giving Tuesday is a pretty amazing event. Each year, nonprofit organizations across the country (and now globally) participate in this day of giving, encouraging donors to choose their organization to support with a donation during this action-packed 24-hour window. Strategically held between Thanksgiving and Christmas, if managed well, Giving Tuesday can provide a significant boost to your year-end donations, connect your nonprofit with new donors, and reinvigorate those elusive lapsed donors.

Unfamiliar with Giving Tuesday? Click here to learn more straight from the source.

To be successful with Giving Tuesday and other giving days, nonprofits typically have an established social media presence and are actively engaged with their followers. While it can be easy just to post your standard appeal messages, Giving Tuesday requires an extra level of originality for your nonprofit to compete with the more than 62,000 nonprofit organizations that have participated in past years. One way to go beyond the standard online solicitation on Giving Tuesday is to utilize challenge grants.

What are challenge grants?

Challenge grants are matching donations that are made in conjunction with other gifts. In short, the organization or individual agrees to match any donations your nonprofit receives within a certain time.

Challenge grants:

  • Inspire donors - When donors know that their donation could essentially be worth double what they give, they are often more motivated to make a gift.

  • Create a sense of urgency - By setting a time limit to their matching commitment, there is a sense of urgency on the part of other donors to make their contribution so the nonprofit can benefit from the match.

  • Work well with crowdfunding/giving day events - Because you already have existing support from a major donor, other donors can be part of that success that requires no additional work for the nonprofit.

How do you use challenge grants with Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday's existing format already provides a perfect means of inspiring donors and creating a sense of urgency. But, it's really up to the individual nonprofits to find a way to motivate their existing and potential donors outside of the built-in time period and inspirational stories of transformative philanthropy you'll encounter throughout the day. One of the most effective ways I've seen of breaking through the "noise" of the thousands of nonprofits participating in Giving Tuesday is to use challenge grants.

  1. First, connect with an existing donor, either an individual, company, or foundation, from which you already have a commitment for a contribution or from whom you typically receive a contribution of a sizable amount around the same time as Giving Tuesday.

  2. Call and explain the benefits of a challenge grant. They may already be familiar with challenge grants, but explaining the unique details of Giving Tuesday will help them understand the timeliness of your need.

  3. Ask that donor if it would be appropriate to utilize their contribution as a challenge grant. Keep in mind they may agree but ask to remain anonymous (I've noticed this, particularly with foundations). Even if the donor requests anonymity, you can still use their gift as a challenge grant. You'll just need to reference the donor is anonymous in your marketing.

  4. Set parameters. Because Giving Tuesday is technically just one day, it's up to you to determine if your donor pool would be motivated enough and have the ability to meet the full challenge in just 24 hours. Donors can make contributions to a Giving Tuesday campaign before the actual day (and after, technically). Discuss with your donor to determine a start and end date. Most nonprofits I've worked with have needed longer than the 24 hours of Giving Tuesday to make the most of a challenge grant.

  5. Promote the heck out of it. Once permission is granted, tell everyone you know. Send and post updates regularly. Make it easy for people to visualize their contribution doubling (think graphics, pie charts, bar charts, old-school thermometer fundraising). Use language like "We have this much... but if we had double this much, we could do this..."

Like any other fundraising campaign, Giving Tuesday can be successful for your nonprofit when you plan and build a strategy for engaging donors. Utilizing challenge grants will require some planning on your part. But if done well, challenge grants can help you double your giving day revenue with very little additional effort required. Win, win!


Just Write Grants offers our clients decades of nonprofit fundraising and grant writing experience. When you subscribe to our affordable monthly subscriptions, you instantly add expertise to your team. We can help your nonprofit connect with the right grant-makers, raise more money, and better serve your clients. Contact us at 1-866-7GRANTS or schedule a free intro call by clicking here.

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