With little effort, you can easily find opinion pieces that state that Giving Tuesday should “be avoided like the plague,” is “just hype” and “not worth the effort”. With all the marketing and fundraising that should happen between now and December 31, ignoring Giving Tuesday may seem like not such a bad idea. But before you cross that off your to-do list, let’s step back and take another look at this 2012 invention.

Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year it falls on November 28. The concept is to encourage people to “give back” following days of gluttony and shopping frenzies. Some nonprofit organizations go all out with pre- and post-Giving Tuesday emails with videos, multiple e-blasts on the day itself, landing pages, mailed reminders, radio spots, etc. Others ignore it all together.

An argument in favor of participating in Giving Tuesday is that it is the one day a year when media outlets consistently are saying, “Support charity!” Sure, they may have their own pledge drives throughout the year or encourage giving in response to a disaster, but on Giving Tuesday, the bulk of TV, radio and print outlets reference the “phenomenon” of Giving Tuesday throughout the day. So, frankly, why not take advantage of the free publicity – if not for you directly, at least for being charitable in general?

But Giving Tuesday should never take away from your other year-end activities that may be far more productive – major donor calls and visits, year-end appeals (mail and electronic), or other proven technique that help you end the year strong. So consider making Giving Tuesday part of your ongoing fundraising messaging. For example, if you are doing a year-end campaign that is being promoted via mail, email appeals and online, schedule an e-blast on Giving Tuesday that reminds your supporters that today is a great day to make your gift for the XYZ campaign. Use the same graphics and reference the same offer.

Another way to leverage Giving Tuesday is to set a goal for just that day and ask people to help you achieve it. Make the goal something that is reasonable obtainable, and then report back on your success within a few days of Giving Tuesday. Thank the donors sincerely and get their receipts out quickly. How you respond to their Giving Tuesday donation can have a significant effect on their likelihood to give again before year-end.

In short, don’t discard giving Tuesday as just another gimmick, but don’t let it hijack all your energy, budget and opportunities to make your overall year-end fundraising the best it can be.