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4 lessons we learned from GivingTuesday 2023

The numbers are in for GivingTuesday 2023, and the results are … well … mixed.

Overall, GivingTuesday 2023 raised an estimated $3.1 billion—only 0.6% higher than last year. More concerning was a 10% decline in the number of donors participating.

We analyzed online giving for 44 RKD clients and found a 4.3% increase in revenue on GivingTuesday and a 12.0% increase for the full GivingTuesday campaign.

However, we saw a notable increase in the number of gifts—the exact opposite of the global findings. Even clients who saw a year-over-year decline in revenue had up to a 40% increase in the number of gifts received.

This could be due to several factors that played into this year’s big day of giving:

  • Inflation has slowed down, but it’s still having a big impact on many donors
  • GivingTuesday was early this year, on Nov. 28
  • Retail days Black Friday and Cyber Monday are stretching into weeklong promotions

Here are a few additional observations across the industry:

1. Many regional orgs saw bigger gains

Our local and regional clients saw better GivingTuesday campaign results than national and international organizations.

Overall, regional organizations had a 1.5% increase in revenue on GivingTuesday and a 9.0% increase for the full GivingTuesday campaign. National and international clients saw a 14.7% increase on GivingTuesday itself and an 18.9% lift in revenue for the full campaign.

Breaking the regional results down a bit more, we see that animal welfare organizations and rescue missions did exceptionally well:

  • Animal welfare orgs: 24.3% increase on the day, 29.6% increase for the full campaign
  • Rescue missions: 50.5% increase on the day, 51.2% increase for the full campaign
  • Food banks: 4.6% decline on the day, but a 1.6% increase for the full campaign

It’s important to note that the food bank numbers are well above anything we saw prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The year-over-year drop-offs fall right in line with a continuing trend of coming down from unprecedented donor generosity in 2020 and 2021.

2. Text messaging was a successful tactic

We tracked the results of text messaging for the first time this year and saw a strong response for both broadcast and peer-to-peer texting.

Fourteen clients sent out more than 175,000 texts to their donors. The response rate was 1.47% and the average gift was $95. These numbers clearly beat out the typical email giving rates. We also saw success with texting as a lapsed donor recapture tactic.

We’re still tabulating some numbers, but so far text messaging has accounted for 4.4% of total GivingTuesday revenue for our clients.

That means texting is a new channel that’s definitely worth trying if you haven't already integrated it into your program.

3. DAF giving has increased

The 2023 Donor-Advised Fund Report, published in November, shows a 9% increase in gifts from donor-advised funds (DAF) in 2022—an ongoing trend of growth in the use of DAFs.

Therefore, it’s not a big surprise that DAFs played a big role in GivingTuesday this year.

“Grant requests by NPT donor-advised fund holders were up 37% on Giving Tuesday last year compared to the year before, and so far, are up 30% in value on Giving Tuesday this year,” Eileen Heisman, CEO, National Philanthropic Trust, told The Nonprofit Times.

The lesson to be learned here? In your communications, remind your donors that they can use DAFs. Here are a few examples of how our clients are talking to donors about DAFs.

4. GivingTuesday is not a one-day affair

Those who do well on GivingTuesday start the conversation with donors early and don’t just make the ask on the day itself. This may seem obvious, but it’s worth reiterating.

A steady stream of communication with your donors across channels is critical to bring awareness before GivingTuesday arrives. Paid media is an excellent tool here to get early attention in the weeks before GivingTuesday.

As my colleague Evan Arcoria shared, there’s no need to get overly complicated here—just keep it simple and straightforward. Everything should feel like a build-up to the day itself, with a clear deadline that can be felt in the creative.


With the full month of December now in our hands, it’s time to shift our focus toward maximizing the rest of our year-end giving campaigns. Best of luck to everyone!

Jenn Thompson

As Vice President of Digital Strategy at RKD Group, Jenn brings decades of experience working alongside nonprofits to create integrated digital strategies that lead to omnichannel growth and high-value donors. She has been with RKD since 2010, and she provides the digital plan of attack for dozens of nonprofit organizations.

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