Targeted Email Campaign Propels Giving Tuesday Returns

The Northern Illinois Food Bank increased its Giving Tuesday gifts by over 70%!

What We Did

Digital Marketing, Strategy & Planning

Many nonprofits continue to feel the squeeze of the COVID-19 pandemic. A heightened need among the communities they serve combined with donors tightening their belts means fundraisers must make the most of every opportunity. Giving Tuesday often kicks off end-of-year giving, and one organization seized the chance to launch a new email campaign and maximize the day’s vital gifts.


raised, not including match incentives


increase in Giving Tuesday gifts


or higher email open rates

The Challenge

Northern Illinois Food Bank serves 13 counties in northern Illinois (excluding Chicago), including everything from some of the country’s wealthiest suburbs to some of the most rural areas and farmland in the Midwest. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is serving 50% more people than it did before 2019. Moreover, the economic turbulence of recent years has led to a perfect storm: greater need, increased food costs, but fewer monetary and food donations.

Giving Tuesday presented an opportunity to get some much-needed cash and further relationships with current donors. The team built on what has worked in previous years, let data guide their outreach and took storytelling cues from public media to resonate with as many donors as possible.

Specifically, the food bank utilized match incentives, which the fundraising team divided up and put a time limit on. The pre-Giving Tuesday match was only good until Tuesday morning, Then, there was a mid-day match that ended at 5 p.m. Finally, the team saved its largest match for those who check their email in the evening. Upon analyzing the campaign results, the team saw that giving peaked each time a new match was announced.

The Solution

  • Email campaign that included five emails on Giving Tuesday, and a “thank you” email on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Sustainers were included in one of the Giving Tuesday emails, with sustainer-specific language.
  • Social media campaign that ran Friday, Nov. 24, through Wednesday, Nov. 29
  • A telethon-style approach to messaging that sought to increase awareness and excitement
  • Data outlining the best days and times to send messages
  • Suppressed donors who had given and high-value donors to maintain strong relationships

Emails and Ads

The Results

  • $461,650 raised, not including match incentives
  • 72% increase in Giving Tuesday gifts
  • Email open rates of 25% or higher
  • 14 donors signed up for monthly giving — an all-time high

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