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Launching your first day of giving with a small shop

Giving Days

So you’ve decided to be a go-getter, a small shop fundraising warrior, and launch your first Day of Giving.


You probably have the same question. Will a flash campaign engage our constituents?

It was an experiment I knew we needed to try, but I was terrified.

With assistance from our Web & Digital Media Producer to push social content and our Director of Advancement Services for database segmentation, I launched Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s first Day of Giving in April 2016.

For your first Day of Giving, I recommend a healthy dose of fear for motivation and lots of caffeine…

How to get started

Do your research; Watch webinars and read blogs (like this one!) to wrap your mind around what it entails. The concept is easy, but the details can be daunting.

In a small office, time and budgetary resources are limited. It’s easy to get bogged down with those restrictions, so keep a dream big list of everything you would do if you had unlimited time and money.

The majority of our prep took place in the two months leading up to the campaign. If possible, add more lead-time, but know it can be done quickly.

The Building Blocks of a successful Day of Giving

Ultimately, I cut my dream big list back to the following creating a fairly simple day with just enough to make it run well. I recommend these components as the bare minimum.

Set your Goals

  1. What is important to your institution? Dollars, Donors (participation), Both?
  2. What will your Day of Giving Support?
  3. Your goal should be meaningful, attainable and clearly defined

For our Day of Giving I decided to do a strictly participation based campaign, our goal was 143 donors in honor of every year MassArt has changed the world (we were 143 years young last year).  If we reached 143 donors it would unlock $15,000 in matching funds, doubling each donors impact. This really drove home the participation concept and gave our donors more confidence in their gift’s impact.

  • Meaningful? Check
  • Attainable? Check (see tip below)
  • Clearly Defined? Check

Tip: Build in components to ensure you will hit your goal.  Our 70 volunteers were encouraged to give and we ordered 150 cookies for on-campus donors. Students, faculty, and staff WILL DONATE if cookies are involved.


Create a Brand, Stick to It!

Your Day of Giving Brand should be different from your regular appeals.

  1. Be playful and creative
  2. Don’t be afraid to be silly
  3. Bring on the swag
Launching your first day of giving with a small shop

Budget note: Our branding was done in-house by a student designer and everything but the t-shirts were made in-house to keep costs low.

Matching Donor = More gifts

You need a matching donor to gamify your Day of Giving.

  • Since your staff resources are low, identify a donor who would be making a large gift regardless and is on board the innovation train.
  • Work with your MGO or the donor’s Prospect Manager to solicit the gift. Explain why it is important for your institution to try something new, but also help them understand it isn’t a guaranteed success (i.e. manage expectations).


Keep your expenses low with digital communications. You can expand on what we did, but we felt the following was reasonable with our resources.

Segmentation is the name of the game. It is time-consuming, but you will reap the rewards if your messaging and email signatories speak to your constituencies and specific donor behavior.

Email marketing

  • Save the Date Email (one week out)
  • Kick Off Email (day of)
  • Update #1 Email (day of)
  • Thank You Email 1 (day of)
  • Thank You Email 2 (day after)

With 13 segments, we sent approximately 65 separate emails tailored to each audience.

Social media marketing

We tweeted every hour on the hour between 6am and midnight and posted on Facebook and Instagram three times from our MassArt account.

Launching your first day of giving with a small shop
Launching your first day of giving with a small shop

A few more communication thoughts…

  • Consider a phonathon component. Will you call the day of or the week leading up to the campaign? Who will you call?
  • Think about your language and tone. Keep it light and fun, but also consistent.
  • Do you have a contingency plan if technology fails or you don’t reach your goal? How will you communicate this?
  • You need someone to respond to social and emails during the 24-hour campaign. Ideally, this will not be your campaign leader as they will get pulled in a million directions during the on-campus portion of the day.

For increased Engagement consider the following:

  • Social Media
  • Swag
  • Selfies
  • Storify (or another way to visually tell the story of your campaign)
Launching your first day of giving with a small shop

Identify your Ambassadors Early, Make their lives easier:

Who will be your best social, email and on-campus ambassadors? Are there internal departments or groups who will benefit from your fundraising efforts?

  • Line them up early.
  • Make it easy for them to get involved with descriptions of available opportunities, time commitments, and expectations.
MassArt Day of Giving
  • Make it easy to participate. Encourage volunteers to create their own posts, but send a basic social toolkit with hashtags, handles, branding and required components and full suggested posts
MassArt Day of Giving
Launching your first day of giving with a small shop

Don’t forget to communicate with volunteers throughout the day with updates, thank yous and encouragement. You want to manage and nurture these relationships so they enjoy their experience and want to help next year.


This will differ for every organization, but we chose:

  • Imodules- Our regular giving platform. It’s fairly easy to build a basic Day of Giving page with a thermometer.
  • Raiser’s Edge – Our CRM.
  • Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Youtube
  • Juicer – A fun platform that pulls in hashtags and activity from your different platforms. A little HTML will be you BFF here so you can add the Juicer feed to your giving page.
  • Countdown –One to launch and another to end of campaign, again with basic HTML you can add this to your giving page
  • Storify – we used a link to this in our last thank you email as a way for our community to relive the day

If you follow these steps, this is how you will feel at the end of your 24-hour campaign…

Launching your first day of giving with a small shop


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