David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

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5 Tried-and-True Giving Tuesday Campaign Best Practices from a Seasoned Executive Director

As Executive Director of The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Melissa Sciacca leverages over a decade of experience in wildlife conservation to support, promote, and expand her organization.

The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has been rescuing and rehabilitating elephants and rhinos in East Africa for 40 years. Their multi-faceted approach to conservation includes their Orphans Project, anti-poaching and surveillance efforts, and community education and outreach.

As a result of the collaborative efforts of both development professionals and conservation experts in both the United States and East Africa, at-risk and orphaned elephants and rhinos can successfully be returned to their wild lives and form their own herds or join herds of fellow graduate animals.

This incredible undertaking is fueled by the generosity of their passionate supporters. And that critical enthusiasm wouldn’t be possible without Melissa’s commitment to perfecting the art of engaging her constituents year-round and on Giving Tuesday.

In the years since its inception, Melissa and her team have achieved enormous Giving Tuesday fundraising success.

Here are her top tips to help you get more gifts on the nonprofit community’s biggest day of the year.

1. Create original content that compels people to give.

“So much of our fundraising and retention efforts are centered around rich content,“ Melissa says. “We connect our supporters to the work we’re doing on the ground in ways they can relate to. It takes a lot of effort to maintain that connection between our work in Africa and our donors in the states, but we create content that shows our mission as something people want to get behind.”

2. Make your Giving Tuesday ask goal-oriented.

“Be specific about what you’re asking them for so they can see a direct impact.” she advises. “Nonprofits fall into a trap of generating a general ask on Giving Tuesday when they should be promoting a specific campaign.” Think compelling, creative, fun. A memorable campaign is a successful one.

3. Offer an added benefit to participating on Giving Tuesday.

Melissa says, “Be sure to motivate your supporters with a reason to give beyond the fact that it’s Giving Tuesday.” For example, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust obtains sponsors so they can offer matched giving. Ask yourself, “What makes this ask different than any of the other ones we do?”

4. Set yourself apart from the rest of the participating nonprofits.

“Every nonprofit is competing for space on Giving Tuesday, so you’ve got to do something that makes you stand out.” Melissa believes it’s best to flip the script and “customize Giving Tuesday to your mission. Show supporters the direct alignment in your messaging and marketing,”

5. Learn from your Giving Tuesday experience.

The day after Giving Tuesday is a day to celebrate your successes, pinpoint opportunities to grow, and set goals for the following year. Melissa and her team pull Giving Tuesday reports in DonorPerfect to set a benchmark for what they can accomplish the following year. They also analyze their Giving Tuesday campaigns in Constant Contact and on social media to understand what people respond to and apply it to their future fundraising initiatives.

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