In this topsy-turvy world of 2020, the ‘Giving Day’ stands out as an opportunity to help you raise a lot of funds in a very short period of time.
How much money do you think you could raise in 24 hours?
It might be more than you think.
Whether you want to jump on the #GivingTuesday wagon, join a cause-related giving day, or start your own, giving days can be very effective for nonprofit fundraising.
At their best, they rally communities, transform supporters into advocates, and raise money for causes. Sounds good, right?
Of course, at their worst, giving days don’t really go anywhere, making you feel discouraged and resentful of the whole thing. If you’ve shied away from giving days in the past (“Not one more thing on our fundraising calendar!”) or you’ve had one of those no-go campaigns (“Not worth the trouble!”), embarking on a giving day may seem intimidating.
The good news is that if you can focus on donors, tell a compelling story, and rally supporters, you already have most of the skills you need to run a successful giving day. Claiming those potential giving day benefits–funds raised, supporters energized, new donors and advocates for your cause– is truly doable. You just need a plan.
So let’s make one.
Why You Should Do Your Own Giving Day
While #GivingTuesday comes to mind first, there’s a lot of advantages to having your own Giving Day on your own timeline:
- You can make the day more cause-specific (ie: tie your giving day into an awareness day)
- You’re on your own timeline
- You’re not competing for attention with as many other organizations
As a result, you have more opportunities to raise more when you capture attention on your own giving day.
Learn more information in our opinion post on Why #GivingTuesday Was A Failure.
What Makes A Giving Day Work?
Three things drive the success of giving days. You’ll recognize these; they’re driving forces in all fundraising, but are particularly crucial for 24-hour campaigns.
It’s a bit of a paradox that fundraising campaigns often work better when they’re shorter. A giving day provides an opportunity to rally people around your cause, and takes away the potential for one major fundraising stumbling block: “I’ll do that later.”
Your organization probably does a lot of good things, but for an effective 24-hour campaign, it’s best to focus on one. Set your sights on one big story, one goal, one kind of impact, or one clear call to action.
There’s a lot going on at the Henry Vilas Zoo. But on #GivingTuesday, they focus on one thing. They raise money to add a specific animal to the zoo family. Each year, they choose a different animal and center their campaign solely on that. Donors get excited about helping to bring that particular animal to the zoo, in a way they wouldn’t if the goal was more general.
Online campaigns are easy to share and are a natural fit for social media even if you don’t have a robust list of followers. The short timeline doesn’t require a big commitment from peer-to-peer fundraisers, and making a gift online is a convenient and quick way for their friends and families to show their support.
Your Master Plan
Like everything else in fundraising, the success of your giving day campaign is directly related to how well you plan. Deciding on schedules, roles, and messaging well in advance will help your day run smoothly, and maximize your fundraising.
One thing we consistently notice about successful #GivingTuesday campaigns on CauseVox is that they start planning early. In fact, it’s pretty common after #GivingTuesday for people to resolve to start planning even earlier next year!
It’s worth it to be ahead of the game, especially when you consider how much is already going on at your organization.
If you do choose to participate in #GivingTuesday, it is not outlandish to start planning for #GivingTuesday in August, for example. Starting early is a gift to your future self, and ensures that your campaign won’t get short shrift when other priorities arise.
Before you jump into nitty-gritty logistics, you’ll need to set goals. First, determine what you’re trying to do with your campaign. What kind of impact are you hoping to make? How much money do you need to make that happen?
A “SMART goal” is your first defense against a lackluster campaign. A specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goal is so much easier to organize around than something vague.
Specificity is the first point of a SMART goal, and it’s especially important for giving days. Donors have lots of choices about where to give, so it’s important to focus on change and impact. Take a cue from the Henry Vilas Zoo, and find your organization’s tiger.
Once you know what your impact goal is, and the dollars you’ll need to reach it, you can begin to identify stories and messaging for your campaign. To power up your community-driven approach and transform supporters into advocates, you’ll need three kinds of messages:
Storytelling is the key to engaging attention, touching hearts, and connecting people to your cause. You can inspire with client stories, videos, infographics, interviews, and pictures.
Once people are inspired, they are ready to act by making a donation. Activation messages include “hard” and “soft” asks, reminders, and updates on how close you are to your goal.
Communicating with your peer-to-peer fundraisers and other advocates is an important part of your campaign which requires its own messaging. Updates, encouragement, and celebrating progress are all part of communicating with this important group.
Like any campaign, a giving day has specific roles that need to be covered. If more than one person is working on the campaign, deciding who does what will streamline your efforts and help you avoid confusion.
- Who will communicate with peer-to-peer fundraisers?
- Who will create your fundraising website?
- Who will create fundraising messages?
- Who will post on social media?
- Who will report on results?
Tech and Tools
To run a giving day, you’ll need to choose:
- A fundraising platform to tell your story and process donations
- Social media networks for your campaign
- Email software
A clear timeline will keep your campaign on schedule and make sure everything gets done. Like any campaign, your giving day timeline will have three stages: preparation, active campaigning, and wrapping up.
- Preparation: Includes all planning, creating videos and graphics, writing messages, starting to promote your campaign, recruiting and preparing peer-to-peer fundraisers.
- Active campaigning: Announcing, updating, sharing, and storytelling on the day of your campaign
- Wrap up: Thank your donors and fundraisers, report results, and celebrate.
It may be helpful to plan backward, starting at your giving day and then deciding what needs to happen to get there.
For example, if I’m planning a #GivingTuesday campaign, I know that on December 1st, I need to have all my campaign materials, peer-to-peer fundraisers, and tech-ready.
(Actually, I hate leaving things to the last minute, so let’s say I want to have all that ready to launch a week earlier, on November 23rd.)
Work The Plan
A solid plan sets you up for success. Once you’ve made decisions, set timelines, and laser-focused on your goal, the only thing left to do is to follow the roadmap you’ve made for yourself. Will things change in the moment? Sure!
But with a plan in place, you’ll be able to nimbly move around obstacles, adjust your course, and keep on going with your successful giving day.
Raise More When You Run Your Giving Day With CauseVox
Are you ready to get started?
CauseVox helps you raise more with less effort by making it as easy as possible for your donors to give online. With smart donation forms driving more conversions, a little effort goes a long way to meeting your Giving Day fundraising goals.
Plus, CauseVox is the easiest way to set up your Giving Day campaign, giving you clutter-free admin control, time-saving fundraising automation, and real-time reporting without the extra effort.