How to make the most of “Giving Days”

We love a certain kind of giving day around here because they inject fundraising campaigns with some urgency (time literally runs out) and social proof (“everyone is doing it”). It’s an exciting and fantastic opportunity for your non-profit.

Sure there’s Giving Tuesday, but the ones we LOVE are the ones that are led locally by a community foundation, non-profit, or a higher education institution. Check out some of our favorites:  Amplify Austin, The Big Give in South Central Texas, and Long Beach Gives

If you’re lucky enough to get to participate in a local giving day, here are some tips to make your campaign successful: 


Set giving day goals

Remember that donors count on us to ask for what we need. Setting a goal can inspire your community to help you do big things. 

A goal can also be helpful in planning. Once you have a goal you can use it to determine how many people would have to give to be successful. 

Pick a “big idea” for your campaign

For Giving Days it might be tempting to say, “give because it’s a giving day” but the most successful campaigns go beyond that and show donors how their support is important. 

The best campaigns have a unifying theme that resonates and excites your community. A “big idea” can be a few sentences that make the case for why someone should give to you and why they should give today. 

Your campaign should put impact at the center of your message. Remember, people give when they understand what their gift will achieve.

Take your audience on a journey

Giving Days get the best results when you can take your audience on a journey where they’re excited to help, rooting for you the whole way, and sharing with their friends. Use this campaign roll-out calendar to help craft that journey: 

  • Drumroll period – lead up to your campaign where you build awareness and excitement
  • Announcement period – where you boldly announce your campaign and goals
  • Follow up and heighten the story – continue to promote your campaign and remind your audience 
  • Finish strong – focus on hitting your goals and crossing that finish line, don’t forget the excitement of “time is running out” messaging.
  • Thank and show impact – don’t forget to follow up and show impact to your giving day donors, this is the first step to an enduring relationship!

Find partners

Giving Days can be a way to involve your whole community, even your funding partners. If you start planning far enough in advance, you might be able to recruit small businesses, foundations, corporations, or other organizations as outreach partners. Talk to your current funders and major donors about offering matching funds for donors who give to the campaign. 


Recruit ambassadors 

The most powerful part of Giving Days is that they provide an easy reason for your supporters to ask their friends to give. 

Well before the Giving Day, see if you can recruit campaign ambassadors from your community and get their commitment in advance for helping spread the word about your campaign. 

Those connected with a social media community can be very helpful, as well as board members and major donors. 


Get your message everywhere

Promote through every channel you have, from social media to email, and (gasp!) even using offline communication like the phone, flyers, and events.

Think about where your audience might look if they hear about the giving day but miss an email from you. That might mean using pop-ups on your website, putting a call to action in your social media bios, and updating your google ads. 


Make it fun

Sure, your impact and missions are serious, but to really break through and reach your audience, think of innovative fun ways to get attention: 

  • Maybe your Executive Director will dye their hair pink or get a pie in the face when you reach your goals. 
  • Maybe you could live stream performances all day in support of your campaign.
  • Maybe you could encourage your supporters to play a virtual game of tag and tag their friends in posts. 
  • Maybe you could do a scavenger hunt in the community.

Think of the “fun” as a way to break through and call attention to your campaign.  


Be specific in your aks

Asking for a specific amount can help guide your donors to different gift sizes through an “anchoring” effect. Asking for higher amounts might yield fewer donors, but more revenue, while asking for lower amounts might give your more donors, but less revenue. This article by Five Maples shows an anchoring effect on donation amounts. 

It’s always great to tie your asks back to your big idea by relating suggested donation amounts to your work: $25 feeds a family of four for a day, etc.

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