I’m back with part three of my annual Giving Tuesday (GT) email review. (Read part one part two and part four for more fundraising and marketing tips and takeaways.)

Plenty of topics to cover in this post. I’ll be sharing fundraising and marketing takeaways to help your organization grow.

Before we dive in, sign up today- for FREE!- for my new Email 366 project. You’ll learn how to send nonprofit emails that your audience is eager to open, read, click and ACT UPON!

And now for more GT emails. Let’s get to it!

How much

In part one of this roundup, I mentioned that no one cares about your internal fundraising goal.

Yet a whole bunch of nonprofits made sure to share with subscribers the amount they hoped to raise on GT.

If that’s the case, did they reach their goals? If you’re gonna bombard me with emails asking me to give so you can reach your goal (grrrrrr), at least lemme know if the story has a happy ending or not!

65% of the nonprofits who emailed me GT campaigns mentioned a dollar amount they wanted to reach (or number of gifts they wanted to receive). The numbers ranged from $6,000 to $4,000,000. Small, midsize and large organizations shared their target.

This was part of the ACLU’s email to me on GT:

ACLU's fundraising on Giving Tuesday centers around their internal fundraising goal

Many did not hit their GT goal on GT. How do I know? Because on Wednesday I received emails from 57% of them stating they had extended their campaign and asking me to give because they had yet to reach their goal.

In fact, some of the campaigns were extended beyond that with subject lines such as “last chance for 3x the impact” being emailed to me by the American Kidney Fund on December 2, four days after GT.

Can campaigns be extended? Of course! Nonprofits build in that they may have to extend a campaign a bit to reach their goal. When it’s a matching campaign, some of the matching donors allow the organization to extend the campaign to hit the matching goal.

But to take a “day of giving” (double grrrrr) and extend it another four or five days? At this point it’s a week of giving. And soon will become a month of giving (with millions of emails included).

Only 1/3 of the nonprofits let me know they hit their goals. Which left me wondering: Did the others not hit their internal fundraising goal? Or did they and they’re not letting everyone know?

Bottom line: Don’t make your campaign about dollar amounts. The central part of the campaign should be the impact- who will be helped and how.

Yes you CAN mention the overall goal. Yes you SHOULD mention when you have a matching campaign. But the dollar goal should not be the centerpiece of the ask. It just makes donors feel like cash cows.


Following up on the last section, I was curious to see how many organizations sent a post GT general thank you email to all their subscribers.

Last week I mentioned the thask, a letter of gratitude that includes an ask. I’m not a fan. But at least they sent some sort of thank you.

Which wasn’t the norm in 2023. Only 40% of nonprofits who emailed me with a GT campaign sent a post GT gratitude email.

Where were the other 60%?

You could say that they emailed a direct thanks to every subscriber who gave. Very possibly.

But I’m a fan of sending out a general thank you post campaign to those who gave AND those who didn’t. Why?

1) Let everyone see that you give thanks in a heartfelt way. We know that good gratitude leads to higher retention and higher lifetime giving.
2) Let everyone see what the overall impact will be/was because of the overall giving.
3) Not everyone can give when you ask (for all kinds of reasons). Let them see good things are being done with the gifts your organization collects and that’ll motivate them to give down the road.
4) Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. So maybe I couldn’t give this time around but I wanna be part of this great impact so next time…

Be transparent with everyone. Did you or did you not hit your goal?

If you didn’t? That’s OK! We all fail to hit our goals at some point. People will be understanding. They will not consider your organization a failure.

Below is the thanks email all subscribers received from FRAXA Research Foundation. (Full disclosure: Client of mine.) Great hero image, the tone is one of gratitude, lots of “you” in the email, they let me know what they raised and I like the esignatures at the bottom from their staff.

FRAXA Research Foundation's post Giving Tuesday gratitude email to all their subscribers

And while I’m at it, take a look at their footer. They have their social media icons listed. 

Remember: People don’t read every email you send. They may also want to connect on different platforms. Use email to connect your audience with your social media presence. More opportunities for your content to be viewed and for you to engage with people.

Early Bird Special

If above I mentioned organizations extending their GT campaign, this year had a new twist for me:

Pre-GT campaigns!

19 organizations offered me “early access” and an “early-bird special.” (Their words, not mine.)

The Alzheimer’s Association, Unicef and Environmental Defense Fund started offering their matching gift offers one week early, on November 21. My guess? To beat the rush hour email traffic on Giving Tuesday.

My thoughts? 😡

I’m not angry because they started the campaign early! I’m upset because a “day of giving” has become a cash grab. Early bird-specials, extended offers and more. At some point- and I’ll say this again- you’re making donors and potential givers feel like cash cows.

On the day before GT, Trust for Public Land added this in their email: “So. we’re calling it- it’s Giving Tuesday Eve. And to make this year’s GTE extra special, some of our donors are offering to match your gift not once, not twice, but five times over- but only through midnight tonight!”

In the “get in on this great deal early” race, Make-A-Wish won. On November 16, twelve days before GT, they emailed me with a pre-GT campaign that stated: “we set an ambitious goal for 275 early supporters to take action.”

But then they switched the campaign: On November 24, they sent me a Black Friday campaign where the goal was to reach $150,000 PRIOR to GT. The next day their email opened with this:

“Ephraim, we have some good news and bad news.

We’ll start with the bad news: We just checked and we are falling short of our $150,000 Pre-Giving Tuesday goal. But the good news is you still have a chance to have your gift DOUBLED for wish kids!”

On GT and beyond (until December 2), their campaign goal was to raise enough to grant 100 wishes.

The final tally:

  • 3 separate GT campaigns
  • 2 different pre-GT campaigns
  • A GT campaign that lasted a total of 17 days.

Not great.

Is It Just Me?

I wanna share with you something that appeared in some of the GT emails I received.

No Kid Hungry- pending

No Kid Hungry told me that my status was pending for a donation

Email subject line from Project Hope: Your match status: Pending

March of Dimes- pending

March of Dimes told me that my status was pending for a donation

ASPCA- gift not received

ASPCA told me that my status was pending for a donation

Action Against Hunger- gift missing

Action Against Hunger told me that my status was pending for a donation

Planned Parenthood- offer unclaimed

Planned Parenthood told me that my status was pending for a donation

WWF- pending

WWF told me that my status was pending for a donation

Alzheimer’s Association- pending

Alzheimer's Association told me that my status was pending for a donation

Feeding America- pending

Feeding America Hunger told me that my status was pending for a donation

Unicef- pending

Unicef told me that my status was pending for a donation

Can you just feel the warmth, the engagement, the connection, the relationship building just oozing buckets and buckets of love in my direction?


Pending can be viewed as transactional, the exact opposite of what giving should be. If fundraising is all about building relationships, these types of status updates do the exact opposite.

On the other hand, maybe it’s just me. My son might read the above and share with me the GIF of Abe Simpson shaking a fist at the clouds. Some of you might be thinking “OK Boomer.”

I shared something about this awhile ago on LinkedIn. Read the comments and see what the sector experts said.

But I’m absolutely willing to change my mind on this! Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post, or email me and lemme know what you think!

If “pending” encourages people to give and supporters don’t see it as a negative, then let the testing begin!

What Did You Call Me?

Segmentation is critical to fundraising and marketing success. Your monthly givers are different than your major givers are different than your annual givers are…

When crafting a campaign, you need to consider your various audiences and how your ask will differ for each. The basic framework can be similar for everyone- who will be impacted, for example- but the ask should be different.


Show supporters you know who they are. That you know which programs they like to support and their current giving status.

Why is this important? You may think that you’re sending an email to your entire list of subscribers.


You’re sending a piece of one-to-one communication to an individual. And you need to treat it that way.

I bring this up because this year I learned that I am a dedicated supporter, valued supporter, loyal supporter, best supporter, top supporter and strongest supporter of some of the organizations that emailed me on GT.

Maybe nice for my ego but one small problem: I’ve never donated to any of these organizations. 🤷‍♂️

Could it be that because I open every single email they send they consider me a loyal supporter? Dunno. But I wouldn’t go throwing those terms around unless I was an actual supporter.

Do your best to get to know each member of your audience.

The Good

The subject line reads: “A gift for you on Giving Tuesday.”

Please take a look at this email from the CEO of United Way Niagara. Love it!!!

The CEO of United Way Niagara sent a great gratitude email on Giving Tuesday

Personalized. Full of gratitude. It’s about “you” the donor. There’s no ask. ♥️♥️♥️

The Could Be Interpreted As Bad

Here’s an ad from Facebook:

A Facebook ad from United Way of Northeast Ontario letting people know Giving Tuesday is coming

For some people it looks like a horror movie promo than anything else.

We all know what they were trying to say. But sometimes it just comes out wrong to certain audiences.

And finally….

This caught my attention.

The first two emails sent on Giving Tuesday came from Girls Who Code (12:01am EST) and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (1:10am EST).

I was wondering to myself why an organization would email at those hours. Maybe they’re trying to reach out to late night Instagram doomscrollers who take a break to check their email? Did they only send this to those on the east coast (as the emails were sent before GT started on the west coast)?

Another possibility is they know where I’m located. Using my IP address, maybe they can tell I’m located overseas and GT has already started for me.

Maybe they were testing GT send times and decided to check what would happen with a close to midnight send. (Testing is good!)

Anything is possible.

I’m not calling out these organizations for doing something wrong! It was something that caught my attention, made me curious and I wanted to share it with you.

Do you want to learn how to send effective nonprofit emails that subscribers are eager to open, read, click and act upon? Sign up today for Email 366 and learn how! You’ll learn email A-Z for free!