#GivingTuesday 2017

Now in its fourth year in the UK, #GivingTuesday is a chance for charities large and small to ask, thank and share news of the difference they make. It is the antidote to #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday (all of which seem to last much longer than a single day).

Here are some great Twitter examples from this year’s day.

BT image from the London BT Tower scrolling #GivingTuesday video

Short and simple

#GivingTuesday is a hugely busy hashtag (trending across the world on the day) so there is a lot of competition. On all channels, a simple, eye-catching ask stands out.

The standard digital fundraising rules apply – cater to short attention spans, make donating time or money easy to do and pleasurable and give a reward.

Dogs Trust - 4 ways to give + silly dog video

This tweet from Dogs Trust ticks all the boxes. It clearly lists four ways to give support, it uses eye-catching emojis and readable / edited bit.ly links plus a bonus video of a dog rolling in the grass!

"It’s #givingtuesday at LSE! We have four ways in which you can give."

Similarly, LSE student volunteer centre shared four images on Twitter along with four actions.

  • Independent Age clearly listed their text giving options
  • Crisis showed what someone who attends Crisis at Christmas receives
  • Lumos produced a simple animation of five words which explain what they do
  • Refuge were asking people to buy a Christmas dinner parcel for £5
  • Breakfast in a Bag simply asked for £3 donations.

Giving thanks

#GivingTuesday is as much a chance to say thank you as it is to ask. It is an opportunity to celebrate all your amazing fundraisers, donors, campaigners and volunteers. Personal thanks or general thanks work well.

Help for Heroes thank you video

Help for Heroes produced this lovely video to thank their fundraisers, volunteers, supporters and partners. It means more as it is a face-to-face thanks from the people whose lives have been helped by the charity.

The British Heart Foundation are expert producers of thank you gifs and images. Their feed is full of great thank you images like this one.

Marie Curie's hand drawn thanks for supporter Michelle

Marie Curie produced hand-drawn doodles for a selection of their supporters to say thank you.

There are lots more examples of how large and small charities used #GivingTuesday to say thank you (ZurichVolSec)

Taking full advantage

For one day only, Facebook matched donations made via their native giving tool (not those made by clicking a donation button on the platform which links elsewhere).

This tweet from Winston’s Wish explains the ask. A link to the Facebook page would have helped to encourage supporters to shift platform.

Winston's Wish FB ask

Selected Big Give charities are part of their Christmas Challenge which launched at midday on #GivingTuesday. The 500 organisations lucky enough to be included are benefitting from doubled-donations to their listed projects. In the first five minutes, half a million pounds were raised!

ChildhoodTrust - Cats Vs Kids campaign

Eye-catching campaigns like Cats Vs Kids from The Childhood Trust, aim to inspire new supporters as well as current ones through #GivingTuesday and the #ChristmasChallenge17.

CAF were offering to add a bonus £100 to a £10 donation for individuals opening a new account before 30 November.

Action on Hearing Loss Scotland devoted the whole day to share stories of amazing fundraisers, achievements, future events and their #earringforhearing campaign.

Using targets

The Myton Hospices

The Myton Hospices were aiming for a Christmas miracle, raising £3220 in 24 hours, enough to pay for an inpatient bed for one week. Through persistent tweeting, a thunderclap and rallying of their supporters, they smashed their target! Throughout the day, they updated supporters with a total. (Read more about their campaign in my JustGiving post on #GivingTuesday highlights.)

Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust‘s campaign aimed to raise enough money to plant 100 trees.

(NB Toilet Twinning are really good at sharing regular News Flush updates with a running total on World Toilet Day, pinning the latest total as a top tweet on the day.)

Being creative

#GivingTuesday is a great opportunity to break all the rules, produce something special and have fun.

Southmead Hospital Charity video - Giving Back this #GivingTuesday

Southmead Hospital Charity produced a charming video which explained how a £5 donation would help.

Didn’t get involved this year?

UK Fundraising reported that almost 2000 partner charities and businesses joined in with #GivingTuesday this year. CAF shared stats on the reach of the day, including an impressive 383million impressions on Twitter. And CAF’s press release said that the hashtag was trending on Twitter in the UK from 8.30am to 5.30pm. Blackbaud shared data too including that 26% of online donations were made via mobile.

The #GivingTuesday hashtag was used in over 150 countries on the day.

If you didn’t get involved this year, make sure it is on your calendar for 2018 – 27 November. And think about how you can make your comms stand out from the crowd.

What did you spot?

Share your favourite #GivingTuesday examples from Twitter or other channels here. I’d love to see them.

I also shared my top three highlights from the day in this JustGiving post.

It’s interesting to see how the comms have evolved since #GivingTuesday launched in the UK in 2014. Here’s my storify with examples from the first year.


See also: 10 tips for great online legacy fundraising


Saying thank you on #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday started in the UK in 2014. Charities use it in all sorts of different ways. Some ask for money or time. Others ask for action. (See Do something good this Giving Tuesday by Kirsty Marrins for some examples).

Others just say thank you. Here are some of the creative and lovely thank you’s I have seen today.


Mind’s staff read out messages from people who have been helped by Mind. At the end it says ‘We can’t thank you enough for helping us to give people a place to turn and a way forward’.

Mind's staff reading out thank you messages

The Trussell Trust have been tweeting very short thank you messages covering all aspects of how people support them. There is one long one (37s!) on YouTube.

Trussell Trust's staff hold up thank you signs

The Donkey Sanctuary said thank you to their supporters with lots of lovely pictures of donkeys.

Video of still photos of donkeys


War Child UK shared a thank you photo with children holding up letters and waving.

Children hold up letters spelling out 'Thank You'

Refugee Action shared ‘thanks to you’ numbers showing how many people they had been able to help.

Refugee Action - 'this year, you've helped us to...

Marie Curie have been using lots of different ways to say thank you. Here they share statistics showing the impact of their work. Other tweets show them writing thank you letters. Members of staff talked about this on their personal twitter accounts too. And they made fab personal doodles.

Marie Curie - a supporter says thanks for the fun thank you

Personal thanks

Rethink Mental Illness also called supporters to say thank you. In total they contacted 221 people!

Rethink Mental Illlness contacted 221 people to say thank you

Breast Cancer Care started a #ChainOfThanks.

Debbie's thanks to her best friend as part of BCC's ChainOfThanks

The British Heart Foundation thanked their 68,000 event fundraisers and also tweeted a special thanks to the Marathon runners. They also tweeted personal thank you’s using gifs and red and white images to certain supporters. And the CEO Simon Gillespie tweeted his thanks to staff and volunteers.

BHF: 'you ran the miles, you made it count'

Dogs Trust thanked their corporate partners, saying they were ‘wagtastic’.

Dog's Trust sending personal thanks

How do you say thanks?

It is easy but important to say thank you. How do you do it?

A general thank you works well with an image or video to attract attention. These images, videos and actions are low cost and reasonably low-effort. You don’t need a big budget to say thank you well using social media.

Have you seen any other creative thanks today? Please do share them in the comments.

Thanks for reading 🙂

See also GivingTuesday’s Twitter Moments showing some of the UK charity activity and how brands got involved.

Should charities join in with mega-hashtags like #MontyThePenguin?

Some charities are excellent at using social media to join in with non-charity memes as these Twitter examples show. But is it right to jump on the bandwagon?

The John Lewis ad

On Thursday John Lewis released their 2014 Christmas ad. If you haven’t seen it, it features a boy and penguin. By lunchtime it had had 90,000 views on YouTube, just an hour later it was up to 300,000 and today up to 4.3m! Everyone was talking about #MontyThePenguin (he’s got his own Twitter account – @MontyThePenguin).

Charity responses

WWF who are in partnership with John Lewis responded by promoting their brilliant adopt a penguin page via this tweet which got 100 RTs and 97 favourites.

Tweet: Turns out @johnlewisretail love penguins too & support our work in Antarctica #MontyThePenguin http://po.st/LENAiF

and followed it up with this one.

Tweet: .@johnlewisretail have sold out of #MontyThePenguin. Now's your chance to support a real penguins! http://po.st/LENAiF

They also added a penguin to their homepage and paid for a series of promoted twitter ads which appear at the top of the search results for #MontyThePenguin. As the advert runs in the weeks heading up to Christmas no doubt there will be a huge serge in people adopting penguins. (See more about this in the UK Fundraising article about MontyMania.)

JustGiving joined in with a lovely picture and a plug for WWF.

Tweet: Do you love #MontyThePenguin as much as we do? Show us your heart hands for @WWF_UK and say #ICare about penguins.

Charities unrelated to penguins got involved too. Age UK used it as an opportunity to promote the Big Knit. It got 37 RTs, 14 Favourites and 37 clicks through to the website.

Tweet: Help our #MontyThePenguin find his mate this Christmas. Join the #BigKnit

And Save the Children UK used Monty to publicise their Christmas Jumper Day.

Tweet: We think #montythepenguin would look great in a #xmasjumperday knit!

Dogs Trust sent five rehoming tweets about dogs called Monty including one about Monty the Jack Russell. They each got between 36 and 67 RTs and reported that ‘weekly RTs were up 53% compared to week before and new followers were up 66% compared to previous week’.

Tweet: Just like #montythepenguin our sweet Terrier Monty from @DT_Shoreham is looking for love... and a forever home! #love

Many others used it as a chance to plug their Christmas shops or cards (such as Breakthrough Breast Cancer).


Joining mega-hashtag (or newsjacking) activities such as #MontyThePenguin can be a quick and harmless way of promoting something. It can help you reach new supporters and shows existing ones that you aren’t just wrapped up in your charity bubble. If it fits with your brand, it is good to do something fun. You have to act quickly though. Although people will no doubt be talking about Monty for a while, launch day and maybe 1-2 days after are the window for joining in.

However some argue that charities should stick to strategic marketing (see Charities should be leaders, not followers on social media – Third Sector article).

Personally, I think that an organisation’s content strategy should always leave room for spontaneity. If something big comes along, careful thought should be given about whether it fits and if it does, give some time to get involved. These examples all fit brilliantly with the spirit of the ad and are done really well. Hats off to them for responding so quickly and in a smart way.

What do you think?

Do you think charities should stick to their core activities and not join in with memes like these? Or do you think they give a nice boost if pitched right? Have you seen any other good responses? Or have any insights into the time it takes to respond and the impact it has?

Add a comment or tweet me your views, I’d love to hear from you.

Use storytelling and fun to inspire action

Today I went to SoundDelivery’s third Social Media Exchange (#SMEX14) on storytelling.  Do check out the presentations, resources and links in the excellent Storify. There were so many useful tips and examples which will inspire you to share the stories at the heart of your organisation.

Sign: Stairs are slippery when wet. take Care

Matt Howarth of digital agency Reason Digital ran two excellent sessions on persuasion. He looked at how gamification and storytelling can be used as persuasive tool to encourage action or change attitudes or behaviour. You might not think that the two are related but think iHobo from De Paul (who incidentally have a stories section on their website – no mention of old fashioned case studies here).

Here are my top take-homes from today.

Make tasks fun

There are some brilliant examples of where fun has been injected into mundane activities such as the Swedish piano keyboard staircase (and other task transformations by TheFunTheory) and Zombies Run game. At Epping Forest there are speed bumps which play a tune when cars speed over them which only those on foot can enjoy.

In terms of our digital work, fun doesn’t have to mean producing a game or app. Do it on a small scale on your website – think of the Fetch button on the Dog’s Trust website or RSPCA’s oops error page.

Think about the transactions on your site. How can you make them less annoying and more fun? Are your forms too long and ask pointless questions? Do you use an illegible and frustrating CAPTCHA? Could you use a simple fun (and much more accessible) question instead?

Fun is memorable. Fun shows that you care about the user-experience. There is a fine line though between fun and wacky. Test out what works for you.

Use great stories

A great story is naturally persuasive as it should make the reader want to share it or do something about it. A good story can be enhanced or ruined in the telling. How you share it is the key. For example, does the story work in video / audio / photos? Where do you end the story? Who is telling it? How long is it?

Where and how often you share your stories is important. Oversharing means you will lose impact. Think about where your points of influence are. For example could you include a story on your donation thank you page or email?

Authenticity is persuasive and engaging (this is why The Listening Project conversations are so powerful). Hopefully the days of black and white, sad music, slow-motion, voice-over (poor John etc) charity videos are over. Hand over the voice to your users. Let them tell their own stories.

See my previous post on storytelling for examples of great charity storytelling.

Don’t be scared to make the ask

Sign up to YouTube’s NonProfit programme. This gives you lots of extra functionality including the ability to insert donation buttons into your videos. Don’t just stick it in at the end but test out where an ask is most powerful. This 1minute Orphans in Need video – You Haven’t Done Anything – has it at the start.

Make the ask easy and relevant – don’t just rely on the donation button at the top of the page. Insert an ask. If donations are unlikely or complicated, simplify it by asking for an email address and building from there. If you are using Twitter or SMS, ask for donations via TextGiving.

Go back to persuasion principles: include achievable goals, give rewards, make the ask urgent, tell them the benefit, make it social, help your story to spread. See more in my KnowHow NonProfit guide on how to be persuasive online.

Other fun / inspiring / interactive examples of persuasion

School makers: ‘Choose your own adventure’ style interactive video by SGOSS with children interviewing the viewer. (See this blog post by Torchbox for the thinking behind it)

SGOSS school children interview

Other examples

I’d love to hear of other examples of persuasive storytelling or fun interactions. Please share via comments here or via Twitter (@madlinsudn).

Please also get in touch if you’d like me to help you review your storytelling or think about how to make your interactions more engaging. I am a freelance web editor and can help you give your communications a healthcheck and ideas injection.

Make your errors useful

Error messages are so often given little thought when re-launching a website but actually they could be one of your most visited pages. It’s worth spending some time on them to get them right. Turn them into positive pages by making them sound like they were written by a person rather than automatically generated and making them useful, maybe even fun. Here are some examples of 404 (page not found) errors from big charities and companies.

404 – computer says no

No branding, robotic language (‘the requested resource has not been found’), assumption that it is the user’s fault (‘please ensure you have typed the address correctly’), no alternative links, this is a desperate, desperate place to find yourself. This charity’s error page could have been marginally worse if the heading had been in red.

The requested resource has not been found

A confusing error is sometimes worse. This example says error three times and gives a code which is meaningless to the user. We don’t know whether we are seeing this as a result of a technical problem or  a broken link? To ‘go back’ is the only option given.

error, error, error - repeated three times

Be helpful and approachable

WaterAid make it very clear what has happened (‘file or page not found’) and what they want you to do (email).
Page or file not found

Oxfam’s 404 works through some solutions (‘here are some tips which might help’) alongside a confused goat.

Oxfam - oops, sorry

The British Heart Foundation’s 404 starts with a sorry, has a please and lots of ideas for alternative destinations (presumably based on the most common interactions).

Lots of options on the BHF 404

Connect with your cause

RNLI’s error message connects the error to their strengths. They have a picture of a man looking through binoculars and text which says: ‘We’re sorry – we can’t seem to find the page you’re looking for. That’s a shame, as we’re usually quite good at navigation.’ Nice.

RNLI's we're usually quite good at navigation

Missing People’s 404 does something similar: ‘Page not found, neither is Thi Nguyen’ then full details about the missing person.

Page not found, neither is Thi

Add personality

Dog’s Trust have bags of personality online (see their brilliant fetch (rather than search) button). DT’s 404 page has a cute dog, friendly heading (‘Oops – this page isn’t here’) and a pointer to the site map and other links. Their technical fault is even better.

Error message from Dog's Trust - cute dog

Of course, animal charities have more potential to add personality / fun / cute pictures than say a health charity. Blue Cross say ‘Oooooops’ and have a snoozing cat. RSPCA say ‘Whoops’ and ‘Looks like a dog may have run off with that page. Sorry about that. Perhaps he’s buried the page out the back?’

A nice picture is a good way of brightening up an error page, even better if it’s of something relevant. Here, the BBC’s 404 page has gone retro with our old friend the clown dusted down from the 70s, now with 404 written on the chalk board – genius.

BBC error page - 1970s retro with clown

Lego’s 404 is just weird.

Lego gremlin pulling the plug

How do you match up?

Go check your error pages:

  • are they helpful?
  • do they generate a positive reaction?
  • could you add an image?
  • is the language clear and approachable?
  • are there clear links to get people back on track?

Think about what you can do to improve your user experience. Reward people for finding this ‘secret’ page rather than punishing them with an unhelpful, dull page.

While you’re there, check errors in forms. Are you nicely hand-holding to help people complete a purchase, enquiry or donation or SHOUTING AT THEM for making a mistake? (See previous post on donate forms for some examples.)

Want more?

If you need more inspiration for dull vs fun error messages, just do a search for 404 in google images or look at Wikipedia’s page on 404.


I looked at hundreds of charity error pages in the interests of research and these were the most inspiring I found. Please do share your tips and favourite examples (good and bad). Leave a comment, go on.

‘Please donate’ in 140chars?

Does your charity ever tweet general donations asks? Should your organisation capitalise on it’s healthy social community by reminding them to donate or would formally asking this way alienate them? Here’s some food for thought to help you work out whether tweeting asks is right for you.

Strategically not asking?

This morning’s Social Brands 100 report listed Dog’s Trust as top charity. This tweet appeared as part of the launch event (text: From the beginning @dogstrust decided not to fundraise through social media but to build their community).

Dogs Trust don't fundraise through social media

Dog’s Trust are masters of using the right content on their social media to grow and engage their community. To date, they have 82,400 followers on Twitter and 517,000 Facebook likes. They generally tweet / post about events, pictures of cute dogs as well as passing on messages from people fundraising for Dog’s Trust.  But no direct appeals for donations.

A very quick straw poll of five random charities on Twitter found that in the last four days, none sent a please donate tweet. The only fundraising-related tweets were one justgiving request and one promo for a raffle. These were charities with significant numbers of followers (from 6000 – 719,000).

Asking as part of appeals

Generally, direct asks tend to relate to an appeal and invite a donation via text such as these two examples (from the British Heart Foundation and Epilepsy Action).

BHF ask - Mending Broken Hearts Appel

Epilepsy Action - text giving tweet

General asks

The only general, out of the blue ask I found was from Providence Row (again for text giving). Lovely language: “If you’re feeling generous today, please consider donating…. Sending good vibes your way”

Providence Row - text donation ask

Reasons for not tweeting asks

So, tweeting an ask is not common practice, but why? I asked this question on UKFundraising’s LinkedIn group recently and got some interesting thoughts about why it wasn’t done:

  • Organisations don’t have a large donor following on Twitter so they believe it wouldn’t generate much income or response.
  • They ask their donors/supporters so much by other channels that they don’t want to over ask and ‘switch’ them off
  • Other departments other than fundraising control the charities tweets and prefer to use them only for non fundraising uses
  • Twitter feels more like a friendly chat over the garden fence and not really the place to make a direct ask. However, it’s a great place to let people know about charities or even a particular appeal (with a link) and they can then decide for themselves if they want to get more involved.

One person said “its important to firstly build up and engage with followers by tweeting on issues of interest to them rather than using it solely for fundraising requests. A constant stream of straight donation requests is likely to lead to people un-following.”

So other than practical internal control of social media, concerns were about turning people off. Is this realistic? Surely people who follow charities through social media know that they rely on donations to survive and will tolerate and could even act on the odd request for money? Are we just being embarrassed about asking? Are we missing a trick by not tapping into this warm audience?

How do YOU feel as a follower?

As a consumer of charity tweets, do you ever see general ‘Please make a donation’ tweets amongst all the others? How do you feel about these? Do they make you want to give? Would you un-follow?


Think about your twitter / social media strategy (if you have one):

  • Is your policy based on when you were growing the community rather than now it is established?
  • How do you know what your followers want and don’t want?
  • Have you asked them what they want? (See this twitter survey from English Heritage)
  • Have you tried asking for a donation? (See what happens and use tracking to count donations / page hits / unfollows etc)
  • What does success or failure look like? If 1% of your followers donated £5 and 1% un-followed would this be ok?

I wrote this KnowHow NonProfit guide: How to use Twitter for fundraising which has some tips about writing, timing and technical giving ideas.

What do you do?

Do you tweet asks? Does it just not work? What frequency is ok (once a month / once a week?) Please share your views and experiences here.