Forget your Thanksgiving menu planning, your fantasy football stats, and your Pinterest-fueled decorating (for a brief moment anyway). In last week's post, we introduced you to the global charitable movement #GivingTuesday and made the case why your organization should be planning for this year’s day dedicated to giving. This week, we're giving you five simple steps to get started and get involved.

You don’t have to dive deep into your budget to promote #GivingTuesday. Just put on your thinking cap, define your goal, have an extra cup of coffee (or three) and get creative! To help get you started, we provide these five simple ways to participate in #GivingTuesday this year.

5 Ways to Participate in Giving Tuesday 2015

1) Make it personal: Find ways to tell and share stories about real people and real impact. Make your cause's needs real for potential donors. How does a $10, $25, $50 donation actually benefit your community? For example, if your organization works to eradicate hunger, would $10 provide one meal? What about $25 or $50? Post to social media, your organization’s blog, and share in an email blast.

2) Matching gifts: This is a perfect strategy for larger organizations. People love a little friendly competition, so why not harness that energy for good? Showcase your employee giving program with an email or giving fair; encourage "friendly competition" to see which departments or regions give the most and reward the winners; consider increasing the match ratio for this special day to inspire more donations and achieve greater overall impact. You can also identify and approach a generous donor, local foundation, or even a small business that wants to increase their profile and help you raise even more money for your cause or ministry.

3) Partner with a local celebrity or high-profile community member to boost exposure to your #GivingTuesday efforts: In 2012 JC Penney partnered with the Salvation Army and musician John Legend to announce #GivingTuesday at a free NYC concert in Bryant Park, in addition to incorporating messaging into its "round-up at the register" program at retail stores throughout the country. Ok, so maybe you don’t know an award-winning musician, but you probably have a community supporter that everyone knows who would gladly help be a spokesperson for your #GivingTuesday campaign. Still thinking? Consider creating a #GivingTuesday social media swat team to help spread the word.

4) KISS (Keep It Simple Sweetheart): At the very least, develop a communications schedule so you can promote #GivingTuesday via social media, educating your audience about #GivingTuesday and letting them know it’s the perfect day to give to your organization! Change your social media graphics to publicize #GivingTuesday, announce your plans to participate at regular meetings and events, and publicize in all communications and shared calendars.

5) Be creative and have fun. Stand out from the crowd by thinking outside the box. People are busy and stressed during the holidays. Make them laugh, smile, or stop to think. Consider asking your community to forego that extra pumpkin spice latte each week and set it aside for a #GivingTuesday donation. Come up with a catchy slogan or campaign for people to join. Think about something fun (and easy) that will make YOUR audience(s) smile and motivate them to WANT to share your movement/message with their social networks (i.e. potential donors).

Think about your giving goal, communicate that goal (use the #GivingTuesday hashtag), and have fun. Brainstorm with your partners, employees, congregation, members, supporters, and community leaders about how you can collaborate on #GivingTuesday to make your ministry or nonprofit shine. And start now! Reaching out to supporters early can make a huge difference in the number of contributions you’ll receive. Last year, Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry implemented early campaign promotions through social media posts, e-mail appeals, and phone calls, and by the end of #GivingTuesday, they had blown their $25,000 goal out of the water by raising nearly $98,000!

Mark your calendars. December 1st will be here before you know it!

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