Alison Taylor: CAF’s role in Giving Tuesday and what we learned along the way

23 Mar 2022 Voices

Alison Taylor reflects on the Charities Aid Foundation's experience of leading Giving Tuesday in the UK, and offers some tips for charities planning this year's activity

In 2014, following two years of spectacular success in the United States, the team at the Charities Aid Foundation became the lead UK partner for the global generosity movement called Giving Tuesday. 

Since then, CAF has driven the incredible growth of the Giving Tuesday campaign which now has thousands of partners across the charity and business sectors and has become a regular fixture in the UK’s fundraising calendar.

In the early days, there was no guarantee that Giving Tuesday would take off in the UK. 

The list of things that are wildly popular in the USA but have no foothold on this side of the Atlantic is a long one, as fans of country music, baseball and pickup trucks can testify. The team at CAF knew that although the campaign had very American origins, Giving Tuesday’s central message was, at its core, a universal one about giving back to the causes that matter to us. 

The campaign’s innovative focus on social media and collaboration meant that it was an invaluable opportunity for CAF to collaborate with charities and businesses across the country in an exciting new way, whilst helping to inspire millions of people across the world to come together on one day to celebrate important causes.

Our first year leading Giving Tuesday in the UK managed to exceed even our wildest expectations. Over 800 partners signed up to get involved and the event was launched with a live television interview with the prime minister in 10 Downing Street.

Seven campaigns (and two prime ministers) later, the number of Giving Tuesday partners is in the thousands and rising every year, as more and more businesses and charitable partners want to become part of the movement in the UK. 

Building from the ground up 

In the early years of the campaign, CAF was keen to take a leading role in establishing the Giving Tuesday brand, but we quickly learned that the campaign is at its best when partners are given the tools they need to flourish. 

For years now, we’ve built our campaign from the ground up, speaking to partners from all backgrounds and giving them a platform to be as creative as possible. 

From major business partners like NatWest, to innovative charitable campaigns like the amazing “Giving Shoesday” appeal from Lepra, the success of Giving Tuesday is firmly rooted in the hard work and creativity of thousands of partners around the world.

After eight successful years, CAF is now passing the Giving Tuesday baton to the Chartered Institute of Fundraising. In CloF we know we’ve found the perfect organisation to take Giving Tuesday forward and CAF will continue to support the campaign in the future. 

We have been proud custodians of Giving Tuesday for all these years, but in truth the campaign belongs to the partners, which is one of the reasons we are so excited to join those ranks in the coming years. I speak for everyone at CAF when I wish the team at CIoF all the best with Giving Tuesday in 2022 and beyond. 

The countdown to 29 November starts now and we look forward to seeing you all then.

What we’ve learned makes a great Giving Tuesday campaign

Giving Tuesday’s strength lies in its diversity and there is no right or wrong way to run your campaign. That said, at CAF we’ve identified some common themes that all of the best campaigns have shared over the years:

  • Work out your goals. Take a moment to think about what a successful Giving Tuesday looks like for you and put together a plan focused on whatever target you’ve set.
  • Don’t feel like you have to figure everything out at once. We know it can feel really daunting to look at a blank page and make the first step, so if you’re putting together a large-scale campaign, plan it on a stage-by-stage basis. Try creating a campaign timeline and ticking off each task as you go – it really helps!
  • Use your contact book. If you have an existing network, there’s no need to be shy about reaching out to them for support. These can be your staff, corporate partners or influencers in your space that you engage with regularly - the key is to make sure your campaign works for them and what they would like to achieve. If you have a good relationship with a local business, think about how to link their work with Giving Tuesday in a natural way and take the idea to them – the worst they can do is say no.
  • Amplify your messaging online. Giving Tuesday takes place all around the world and social media is vital in bringing those stories together under one banner. It will be trending online in countries across the globe and posting on social media is a fantastic way to get involved in that momentum.  
  • Link your campaign to real life. Catchy slogans and fancy branding can be really useful tools in any campaign, but nothing engages an audience quite like personal stories and tangible results. If you can, highlight some successful case studies you’ve been involved with in the past.
  • Don’t let your campaign stop on the Wednesday! After all the excitement on Giving Tuesday itself it can be tempting to put your feet up. Before you take your well-earned break, however, drop a line to say thank you to your supporters and acknowledge their contribution. 

Good luck!

Alison Taylor is CEO of CAF Bank and CAF Charity Services 

Civil Society Voices is the place for informed opinion, and debate about the big issues affecting charities today. We’re always keen to hear from anyone, working or volunteering at a charity, who has something to say. Find out more about contributing and how to get in touch.


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