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Donor Participation Project

Giving Tuesday Insights: What’s Driving Donor Participation and How to Boost It

Giving Tuesday participation surged in 2020 but declined again in 2021 and 2022, according to data from Giving Tuesday’s chief data officer Woodrow Rosenbaum. While 37 million people donated over $3 billion on Giving Tuesday in 2022, Rosenbaum sees worrying trends that nonprofits must address to boost donor participation long-term.

Rosenbaum found giving sentiment remains strong, with most people highly motivated to support causes and communities they care about. However, nonprofits are failing to tap into this motivation with broad, grassroots engagement. Instead, the sector relies increasingly on a shrinking pool of large donors, putting fundraising at risk in times of economic uncertainty.

To reverse course, nonprofits must expand engagement beyond the usual “giving season.”

Rosenbaum urges taking action now to cultivate diverse, year-round support. This means employing multichannel outreach on urgent issues, not just end-of-year asks. Matching gifts, peer-to-peer campaigns and social media show high returns on Giving Tuesday for activating new and existing donors.

Rosenbaum also advises against viewing different giving modes as competitive. Donors give in many ways, and nonprofits should provide opportunities for people to have the most impact. Someone giving to a mutual aid fund, for example, is also more likely to give to nonprofits. Partnerships and less transactional asks can better match how donors prefer to support causes.

For nonprofits seeking to get involved in Giving Tuesday’s efforts to boost donor participation, Rosenbaum recommends joining working groups to help develop and test new strategies. By providing data and recommendations, Giving Tuesday aims to scale interventions that prove most effective at reversing long-term trends.

To avoid a “nonprofit recession,” Rosenbaum urgently calls on organizations to start building grassroots support now. By engaging people year-round in the ways they want to give, nonprofits can ensure they enter end-of-year fundraising with a solid donor base to activate. The desire to make a difference is there, waiting for nonprofits to tap into it. Overall, Giving Tuesday data suggests donor participation depends on how well nonprofits can match the motivation to give with meaningful opportunities to act.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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