How Canine Companions for Independence made #GivingTuesday into #BlackLabFriday

Each year on a Tuesday following Thanksgiving, the nonprofit community celebrates the power of philanthropy by participating in #GivingTuesday.  This yearly event was created by the 92nd Street Y, focused on bringing people together around the values of giving back.  Since the first #GivingTuesday in 2012, the movement has generating over $200 million for nonprofits worldwide.

This year’s Giving Tuesday was held on November 29th.  Early returns are estimating $168 million raised, an increase of 43% from last year.  In this highly competitive time for donor dollars, nonprofits are asking themselves, “how do I stand out among the rest?”  

This year, Cornershop Creative client, Canine Companions for Independence (Canine Companions), tried a new tactic that paid off handsomely:

Canine Companions, a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs free of charge, had performed well in past #GivingTuesdays.  With a loyal following of supporters and a great mission (because, who doesn’t love puppies?!), their message was compelling to both current and new donors alike.  However, their #GivingTuesday results had plateaued and Canine Companions wanted to explore ways to increase their #GivingTuesday numbers and start the end of the year fundraising season on the right paw (see what we did there?).  

In creative talks with their marketing team and members of our team, the idea for Black Lab Friday was born.  #GivingTuesday traditionally falls around its retail equivalents, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  In order to capitalize on these well known commercial spending sprees, Black Lab Friday was launched in conjunction with Black Friday on November 25th, the Friday before #GivingTuesday, and was promoted for five days instead of just one.

“Due to the high saturation of messaging on Giving Tuesday, we kicked off our fundraising campaign on what our organization calls ‘Black Lab Friday.’ Since we had a match, we were able to encourage donations early and over a five-day period, rather than just on Giving Tuesday,” explained Canine Companion’s National Online Marketing Manager, Dani Logue. “Using language such as – ‘Choose black labs over sales tags!’ in email and social messaging, we kept the campaign fun and upbeat yet still being mission focused. Cornershop Creative helped pull the campaign together and coordinate all of our efforts for a highly successful campaign.”

By getting a jump on other organizations, elongating their #GivingTuesday window of opportunity, tying their messaging to other mainstream events, and capitalizing on great word play, Canine Companions was able to increase almost all their metrics from previous #GivingTuesday efforts. The Black Lab Friday campaign performed the best out of the 3 years Canine Companions has participated in #GivingTuesday, bringing in the highest total amount raised, number of gifts, open rates and average gift.

While #GivingTuesday promotes a great day of giving, Canine Companions was able to think outside the box and use the movement as a launching pad to celebrate philanthropy beyond the one day that #GivingTuesday.  When thinking about what to do for your next #GivingTuesday campaign, it pays off to try something new, play into your branding and mission, and it never hurts to start thinking of new ideas early!