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3 key steps to a successful giving day

Giving Days

Got caught by the giving day craze? It’s no wonder these short-term fundraising events are popping up in non-profits all over the world. Giving days transform the donor experience into a short term philanthropy extravaganza, giving people a reason to get excited and rally around their favorite cause through an increased sense of urgency and competition.

Everyone isn’t hopping on the giving day craze for no reason – it works! I know that it can be somewhat terrifying to spend months on a fundraising initiative that only lasts 24 hours, so here are the top three things to keep in mind to make your giving day a success!

#1 Build Partnerships

Inspire key partners

It’s up to you as the giving day planner to inspire your key partners to be your biggest philanthropy advocates and champions. Strong partnerships may very well be the key to having a successful giving day.

I’ve learned that one person sitting behind their desk in a central fundraising office cannot singlehandedly create a movement that is going to generate large scale support in such a short timeframe. This is why partnerships are so critical!

Making a case to partners

Determining who your partners are and how to motivate them varies based on your organization. For example, if you’re a large university or organization, the schools and programs you represent are likely your key partners. And, it may be challenging to encourage them to reach out to their networks and post frivolously on social media, especially if fundraising is not one of their priorities.

But building a relationship and making the case to these partners about how they’ll get increased exposure to their programs, increased funding, and if possible matching support, are some great ways to get them involved.

Providing toolkits to empower your partners to use giving day logos and key messages to connect to their audiences is a great way to give them a stake in the success, get them excited about the cause, and make it possible to reach and connect with constituents that may be challenging for you to do so from a central office.

Loyal supporters & volunteers

Another great resource for partnerships is your most loyal supporters or volunteers! These are individuals who care deeply about your cause and will do anything to help meet your goals. Reach out to them in advance and let them know exactly how they can rally their friends and families and give them the tools to do so. Setting up contests or prizes for your volunteers is another fun way to encourage them to get involved on a deeper level.

2# make your giving day fun!

What is so special about a giving day? Well, the answer is up to you and your fundraising team! Each school or organization knows their constituents best- what is going to get them excited to participate?


Most giving days have some type of donor match, increasing the urgency to make a gift now instead of tomorrow or next week. We also know that peer-to-peer outreach is the most effective way to fundraise. Consider using some of your matching dollars for social media contests to encourage posting all day long!



Universities have had social media contests that encouraged users to post a picture of a pet or baby in school apparel for a chance to win extra support for their favorite program! If you have any type of physical presence, an event can be fun too! Brainstorm ways to get your feet on the ground supporters to be excited to take pictures and post on social media with your giving day hashtag.

Create a Social Media buzz

The digital space can also be an exciting place to have fun. Consider having a live feed (Facebook live is a great tool!) to share the buzz in your office or event locations with donors who are not nearby. Any type of game, visual, or interactive website that draws donors in and gets them clicking around is a great way to maximize your fundraising efforts. This brings me to my next point…


#3 Use Giving Day Technology

For giving days, technology is the key to reach a large number of donors in a short time. Don’t overlook the importance of a really dynamic and engaging website. There are a lot of great vendors that provide custom giving day websites, and which one you use depends on the specific needs of your organization. But whatever site you go with, make sure it is visually appealing and fun to make a gift.

Easy online donor experience

The actual content of your website and giving day technology depends on what is appealing to your constituents. However, you’ll definitely want to make sure it has real time gift tracking, shows the “make a gift” button at all times, and uses a simple gift form. A donor’s experience is improved if they can make their gift and see the dollar totals go up, and/or see their name on a donor wall.

Showoff donor stats

Your website can also feature some cool donor stats of the day. Do you have an international donor base? Consider having a map where countries light up each time a donor makes a gift in that location. What about graduation year for alumni? Or employer gift matches?

If you’re a large organization or university, leaderboards for how different funds or schools are comparing is a great way to instill some friendly competition and get users engaged in trying to increase the rank of their favorite school or fund.

Mobile & user friendly

No matter what you put on your giving day website, keep one thing in mind – your site absolutely has to be user friendly and mobile friendly. That may mean not implementing every awesome website idea you have if it’s going to slow down your site or make it confusing to find content or make a gift. Make sure you test the gift form and click every link on your mobile phone before going live.

So, what are you waiting for? Rally your colleagues and volunteers, find a way to make your giving day fun, put in the technology to do so, and start planning your best giving day yet!


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