I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but when I get beat over the head with something enough times over the course of a year it becomes obvious that I’m staring at a trend. LOL! In this case, I am referencing an increasingly popular activity sprouting up all over the place — Giving Day.
I was first introduced to the idea of a concentrated one day push while working with a client in Valparaiso, Indiana. Their local community foundation had organized a day where local donors could make an online contribution and designate it to any number of local non-profit organizations. Of course, there were incentives such matching dollars and contests.
As many of you know, I’ve spent the last five months in West Texas and New Mexico working with 18 different agencies on a variety of organizational capacity building activities. While I was down south avoiding a brutal Midwest winter, I was once again introduced to another statewide Giving Day in New Mexico. Like the one in Valparaiso, it was being sponsored by a handful of different community foundations.
Finally, last week I returned home from my temporary assignment and started wading through a ton of mail that was waiting for me. While sifting through that pile, I came across a letter from another agency promoting their community’s Giving Day and they were asking me to make an online contribution.
As I clicked around on Google, I discovered there is a national Giving Day initiative called “Give Local America!” being sponsored by communities, non-profit organizations and an online giving portal company called Kimbia.
As I said earlier, I may not be the brightest or the quickest, but I suspect that I’m looking at a trend in the non-profit sector. 🙂
The Knight Foundation defines a community Giving Day as follows:
“A Giving Day is a powerful 24-hour online fundraising competition that unites a community around local causes. Hosted by the area’s community foundation, the Giving Day raises money through a single online donation platform. A Giving Day is a great way to build community, connect donors to local nonprofits, teach organizations to use digital tools and generate excitement about your community foundation.”
The foundation developed an online “playbook” for people who want to organize one of these events in their community. If you’re interested, click here to check it out.
As I started playing around with these ideas in my head, I’ve come to the conclusion that this doesn’t necessarily have to be a community-wide event sponsored by a community foundation or a United Way. (However, I do think a community-wide approach organized by a foundation or United Way is preferable)
I believe individual non-profit organizations can take these same principles and develop a focused day of giving for themselves. Perhaps, it is something at the end of your Spring annual campaign pledge drive focused on smaller donors. Or maybe it is a year-end giving strategy with a Thanksgiving theme done in conjunction with #GivingTuesday.
Regardless of whether it is community-focused or agency-focused, there are a few simple best practices that power the successes associated with planning these events. You can find those best practices at the other end of the Knight Foundation link (see link above). If you aren’t planning such an event, but you’re participating in one, then here are a few tips for engaging the most number of people in making a contribution in your agency’s name:
- challenge gifts are an important part of the call to action (don’t just rely on the challenge being offered by the organizer . . . additional matching gifts from your major donors will drive even more traffic on your behalf to the online giving portal)
- pre-event publicity is crucial to raise awareness among your donors (e.g. targeted mail, email, etc)
- day-of-event solicitation (e.g. emails, blog posts, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn chatter, etc) are important strategies to drive online traffic to the giving page
- post-event recognition and stewardship for an entire year leading up to your next Giving Day build loyalty and a strong base of sustainable giving
Does your agency participate in a community-wide Giving Day? If so, what best practices have you used and found work well? Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC