A .Org’s Guide to the Holiday Giving Season

Digital Marketing Opportunities Your Organization Shouldn’t Overlook

By: Jim LeFevre, Senior Director of Marketing, Public Interest Registry

From education to advocacy to healthcare, there are many different organizations with roots in philanthropy that call the .org domain home. As we near the “holiday giving season” many of these mission-based .org registrants are entering arguably the most critical time to support annual fundraising plans.

During the months of November and December, many Americans are familiar with the social-driven campaigns of Small Business Saturday, Giving Tuesday and Cyber Monday – all of which take place during the holiday giving season. Despite the popularity in the U.S., because of the digital nature of these days, organizations around the world shouldn’t overlook the many opportunities to capitalize on the activity.

These holidays might not be top-of-mind within overarching holiday giving or end-of-year fundraising campaigns, but through this post Public Interest Registry hopes to show you how your organization could capitalize on each opportunity. Below we’ve outlined a brief overview of each campaign and suggested ways to leverage participation to support donations and awareness building on behalf of your organization.

Small Business Saturday

Date: November 24, 2018

Overview: In an effort to support local businesses that make communities strong, Small Business Saturday was launched in 2010 on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The holiday encourages people to bring more holiday shopping activity to small businesses since there is typically a large volume of consumers taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Opportunity: This holiday warrants participation from small business organizations of all types, whether you’re a nonprofit, supporting a nonprofit, or giving back to the community with the business you garner. In all cases, it’s a good time to drive home your social good messaging.  Organizations with retail operations can capitalize on this holiday’s goal of supporting local businesses in the surrounding community by generating awareness around how they are using retail proceeds to support their mission.

Pro Tip: Participation is most valuable for organizations that have a retail connection, like a physical store front or sell items via their website. For best results, you’ll want to make sure your content draws a clear line between how customer purchases support your philanthropic goals and overall mission.

Social hashtag: #ShopSmall

Cyber Monday

Date: November 26, 2018

Overview: Cyber Monday is a retail shopping day held the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. It is a digital counterpart to Black Friday, but focuses on online shopping instead of in-store purchases for those who prefer the convenience of holiday shopping from home.

Opportunity: On the surface, this day might not seem to have a place in the spirit of holiday giving, but there are opportunities for your organization to partner with a traditional retailer who may give back a portion of purchases to charitable causes.

Pro Tip: The AmazonSmile program, for example, donates .5 percent of shoppers’ purchases of all eligible items to a charity of their choice. After identifying a partner to align with, make sure your current stakeholders know you’re participating by providing key information they’ll need at checkout or direct links to access platforms that align with supporting your organization. Check out other charitable retail program options here that allow your stakeholders to support your cause while buying a holiday gift for a loved one. It’s a win-win for your customers as they not only purchase a great holiday gift but they can feel good knowing their purchases are having a positive impact during the holiday season.

Social hashtag: #CyberMonday

Giving Tuesday

Date: November 27, 2018

Overview: Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving driven by social media and serves as the unofficial kick off to the holiday giving season.

Opportunity: Through its growing popularity, Giving Tuesday provides the opportunity for organizations to expand their reach beyond current audiences.

Pro Tip: Mission-based organizations around the world can participate. Be sure to leverage the popular hashtag to reach new audience stakeholders and encourage them to learn more about your organization. We also recommend developing social media content your current supporters can use during Giving Tuesday (and beyond!) that allows them to acknowledge their support and encourage others in their networks to support your cause as well.

Social hashtag: #GivingTuesday.

Last year, Public Interest Registry partnered with Giving Tuesday organizers alongside Nonprofit Tech for Good, and shared best practices in preparing a social media campaign for the day. From highlighting ambassadors to making content visually appealing, check out our webinar to learn how to best activate engagement via social media. These tips can be applied to any social-focused campaign.

While not all of the opportunities outlined above will pertain to every organization, there are additional important considerations around activating a digital philanthropic campaign during holiday giving season:

  1. Engaging content – Remember that images and video content perform exceptionally well via social media and can be leveraged on your website as well. An image can convey an emotion (an important element to spur holiday giving) better than words and can help make your message clear and digestible on busy digital channels.
  2. Research – Don’t work harder, work smarter! If you’re looking to increase donor participation in your holiday campaign, leverage the recent Global Trends in Giving Report. The report analyzes global giving through cultural, technological and geographical filters to understand how and why donors worldwide are giving to and engaging with NGOs. These findings can help you to better understand donor wants in order to customize your approach for successful audience engagement.
  3. Online security – When preparing for a digital marketing campaign, also prepare your website and mobile security, ensuring your security tools are in place and running. A security strategy can be the difference between a successful holiday campaign and an unhappy donor base. HTTPS encryption is a good first step in prevention of a breach and safeguarding your stakeholders’ personal information. Implementing encryption and other security measures also builds trust with those visiting your .org. Learn more about HTTPS and how to implement it easily in this recent blog post.


As the deluge of traditional and untraditional holidays near, there are quite a number of ways your organization can make big strides in its philanthropic or business goals. While this season can be leveraged to raise much-needed money, it also provides the valuable opportunity of reaching new audiences. In order to generate the best results, remember to plan ahead by studying donor behaviors, alert your audience of your participation, clearly state your calls-to-action, leverage engaging social media content and secure your domain in the days leading up to heavy website traffic!

We at Public Interest Registry wish you a happy holiday season and hope you end the year with a fundraising win!