Nonprofit Year Up Levels Up for Giving Tuesday

Barney Beal, Former Content Director

December 3, 2019

For nearly 20 years, Year Up has been connecting young adults with training in careers such as IT, finance and cyber security as well as internships, which often lead to full-time roles, with some of the nation’s top companies.

Jesus Contreras, Shanice Turner and Emilia Perez are some of the faces of the nearly 20,000 alumni whose careers Year Up has helped advance with an approach that focuses on students’ professional and personal development to place them on a path to economic self-sufficiency. This week, the trio—a business consultant at American Express, a project coordinator at Forum for Youth Investment and an AV/VC Inspections Tier 1 Technician @ Facebook at Milestone Technologies Inc. respectively—will quite literally be the faces of the organization.

The three graduates, as well as a video narrated by presidential candidate Deval Patrick, are the centerpiece of Year Up’s Giving Tuesday campaign this year.

For many nonprofits, Giving Tuesday represents a significant portion of their fund raising for the year. For Year Up, which receives the majority of its funds from major donors, the holiday giving season presents a different opportunity.

“Giving Tuesday offers us the opportunity to engage with supporters across the Year Up network, from alumni to volunteers, staff to event attendees,” said Cristina Ruiz, marketing manager for the Boston-based nonprofit. “Our campaign aims to showcase the many pathways our graduates take after the program, and it’s wonderful to see our audience engage with and share their stories.”

Indeed, the goal for this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign is not necessarily a financial one, but one of engagement. Year Up is hoping to secure 650 individual gifts. But there is, of course, a financial component. Gifts this year will receive a matching gift from the Salem Family Foundation. Yet, the focus of this year’s campaign is the pathway to possibilities, led off by Patrick’s video on “what makes America really great.”

Last year’s campaign struck a similar note, focused on giving the gift of opportunity, which earned it some recognition from The campaign included an email marketing and social media campaign that featured videos that told the story of what’s possible when donors give the gift of opportunity. Year Up added a phone-a-thon at 18 sites across the country, led by staff, students and volunteers to connect more directly with donors. It set a goal of 500 gifts with the incentive of unlocking a $50K challenge gift from a family foundation and secured more than 615 gifts for a grand total of $240,000. Volunteers made more than 1,000 calls and sent more than 2,500 personal emails to follow up on Giving Tuesday in the belief that pairing a meaningful email with a personal phone call encouraged folks to give more generously.

Giving Tuesday can be a significant outreach campaign beyond simple fundraising. It can also be a good opportunity to take advantage of outcomes measurement initiatives(opens in new tab).

Regardless of the campaign approach, nonprofits often confront challenges their profit-focused counterparts do not, namely a lack of sophisticated technology. Year Up has partnered with several cloud computing companies. The organization has taken advantage of highly discounted software and services from NetSuite Social Impact,, Google and Asana – all companies collaborating with the mission of supporting the nonprofit sector and part of #ImpactCloud(opens in new tab).

Support Year Up’s Giving Tuesday campaign here(opens in new tab), and for more information, watch the video below.

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