This plan will deliver a clear idea of the steps required to launch a successful Giving Day campaign. Much of this is targeted at universities, but is applicable to the whole nonprofit sector. Each section contains a set of goals, key questions to answer, recommendations, and next steps to take.
A Giving Day (or Day of Giving) is a 24 hour digitally driven fundraising and engagement campaign with the goal of rallying a university's or nonprofit's community behind a particular cause.
The original and most famous Giving Day is #GivingTuesday and has since been embraced by universites and nonprofits across the globe looking to run their own campaigns.
Giving Days can be a great tool to acquire new donors, kick off year end giving or motivate your donor base. This guide is intended to not only show you how to run a Giving Day but also take you on a journey so you have a clear vision for why you are running a Giving Day that consists of what it means for your institution and its community. Once you can clearly articulate the ‘why’ the planning becomes more coherent and you will find it easier to bring colleagues along with the journey.
Once you’ve decided that you are running a Giving Day, you’ll need to pick a platform. A small note before we look at deciding on a platform: The platform should complement your implementation plan and how you would like your audience to engage with the Giving Day, before, during and after. The platform should not dictate how you have to run your campaign.
There are two types of platforms that can support Giving Day campaigns.
On the one hand, you have the well-known larger platforms such as Kimbia or GiveGab. On the other is a white label / own-brand platform such as Hubbub (or Everydayhero, ScaleFunder, Community Funded, etc).
The benefits of the former (e.g.Kimbia) are often listed as more customizations to the design. However, they will come at a huge expense when often the look and feel plays a small part of a Giving Day’s success.
The benefits of the latter (e.g. Hubbub) are the reduced deployment time and costs associated with a custom build.
White label platforms often develop the feature set at a much faster rate. As all of their clients are using similar setups it becomes easier to roll out new features across its entire client base.
If you look through the kinds of questions institutions often need to ask when it comes to Giving Day (in the Key Questions above) you can map these against the vendors you are looking at. Either way, whoever you go with you should work out the answers to all of the questions above in advance, alongside any fees that will be incurred, and decide which platform works best for you.
We are happy to provide further assistance with a detailed specification on request, and can also introduce you to suppliers if necessary.
Deciding how much to raise is a seriously challenging question, and one that is often at the front of the mind of most people approaching Giving Days for the first time and even the second and third times. There is a fine balance between setting a realistic and aspirational goal, and also deciding between dollars raised or participation as the main target. These decisions also play into your choice of technology (as above). Make sure that the provider can support the model you actually want to use.
Below we will assume that you will have a goal. Although it can seem safer to have no public goal it becomes very hard to plan for the resources and activities. Your team and your donors will also lose the urgency and drive that comes from trying to achieve a goal.
Normally, a goal is set with a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches.
Top-down approaches look at the scale and ambition of the project and the funds required to make a significant difference to the campaign. Bottom-up approaches look at the network, and determine what level of support is likely or possible from it.
A dollars raised goal will have the benefit of telling a story around what the funds will be used for and why you need that amount.
A participation goal (number of donors) will give a sense of community and will make any gift amount have the same impact as the next which can be great for engaging students.
For a Giving Day, try to determine your aspirational targets based on a top-down approach. For example:
Bottom-up approaches normally employ a “money table”, identifying key constituents who could contribute to the campaign, approximate sizes of these bases, conversion rates, and average donation sizes. For example:
An analysis of the alignment and overlap between the top-down and bottom-up approaches will inform your choice of appropriate minimums and goals for the project, and will also provide clear guidance for how to position stretch goals.
A key portion of the giving day is working with other stakeholders on campus. As many Giving Days reside in the annual giving offices, the incredibly successful days are those that have a plan with the major giving officers. The difference can be a day that raises thousands of dollars vs. hundreds of thousands or even millions.
It is recommended to involve the major giving officers, deans or other staff that might hold the keys to major donors very early in the planning process. Getting key buy-in, challenge dollars and major donor influence can truly transcend a giving day into something very special.
Giving Day launch and timing is obviously important. It is very easy to get excited and underestimate the planning that is required, especially as many of the dependencies will be across other departments.
We advise that a campaign runs for 24-36 hours. Preferably 24 hours. The obvious thing to do is run the campaign from midnight to midnight but it is worth considering running early evening. As most donations will come during that time you can start and end with activity. Remember to consider your staffs availability.
The launch date should give you enough time to successfully:
- Recruit or engage key staff.
- Carry out mapping, messaging work (including production and delivery) and testing, influencer engagement, and stewardship planning.
- Procure and deliver a functional platform.
Ordinarily, this will require a minimum of six months - and nine months would provide greater comfort.
Communications are the basis for your campaign. It is vital to plan your communications strategy and execute it well, while remaining responsive to inbound opportunities.
Raiser’s Edge or Salesforce’s CRMs will work adequately as data repositories for donors, but neither is ideal for large-scale, low-touch customer relations need, where small interactions regularly occur with a large number of similar individuals. As a result, it is critical to qualify your donors and achieve a better understanding of their profiles, so you can deal with them appropriately in significant numbers.
For example, Giving Days can achieve several tens of thousands of donors. Many of these donors will give a small amount, and so cannot easily be individually solicited for further donations. Some however may be regular or major gift prospects, and some may have other influence they can exert. Even though your campaign will only be live for 24 hours you still have time to communicate and mobilize your donors once they have given.
As part of donor stewardship, you should attempt to:
- Identify those who may have a predisposition to give regularly (this can be built into the platform).
- Identify those who may have the capability to donate larger amounts through wealth screening or social profiling.
- Tag the remaining donors with social, demographic and geographic information and also by gift size and reason for giving, to ensure segmented campaigns can be run in future.
- Transfer this tagged data appropriately into the CRM.
It is also crucial before the campaign begins to identify the actions which will be directed at each group, and create a plan for carrying out these actions. For example, for those who express an interest in giving regularly during the campaign, a personal and immediate follow up email or call would be advisable. For those who are flagged as potential major donors, a visit may be appropriate.
Campaign messaging needs to be positive, clear and consistent. This quality of messaging is rarely arrived at by individuals alone. Depending on the size of the institution or organization this can involve multiple people or departments. Instead, it is generally advisable to arrange campaign messaging workshops, typically of the following form:
1) Start with a half-day to one-day workshop with key team members, in a brainstorm session. Look at the institution's mission, vision and values, as well as the campaign aims. The aim is to ensure that people feel their views are represented, listened to and included, and to tease out all possible key messaging.
2) One person takes on the task of collating the messaging suggestions into a simple set of statements about intentions, ambition, philosophy and values.
3) This person presents this back to the group for approval or modification. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you arrive at consistent, engaging messaging.
We recommend undertaking these exercises as soon as possible. Messaging is absolutely central to creating campaign materials and to campaign storytelling, which is in itself absolutely essential to the virality of the campaign. Messaging for the campaign is therefore more important than any other section included here.
We are happy to assist either by running the workshop, or by providing recommendations of others who can facilitate. Alternatively we can direct you to digital resources that will help you run these workshops in house.
Once you have decided on your key campaign messages, you need to create a simple pack of supporter materials, including:
- four to five key sentences expressing the campaign goals.
- hashtags for social media.
- suggested social media messages.
- one-pagers about the campaign.
- suggested email messages.
- campaign branding and color schemes.
- campaign imagery.
- a campaign video.
This material needs to be created and published somewhere easily accessible to all relevant parties before, during and after the campaign.
Even though the campaign may only be running for 24 hours it’s also helpful to think how this messaging is going to adapt to the changing context of the campaign. When the campaign approaches goals, challenges or milestones, the messaging should reflect this - so it’s worth preparing for those successes, and having the images and text ready to go when you hit them. Remember, a campaign that is dynamic will almost always out raise a static campaign.
We recommend that for a minimum of six months before and one month (ideally three months) after the campaign, there is a full time campaign manager dedicated to it. We also advise three to four days a month as the minimum necessary for strategic / advisory input from an expert who has previously run a Giving Day. .We also advise one to two days of full-time training from an expert prior to the kick-off of campaign planning. Hubbub can provide expert campaign advice on this basis, or we can recommend others with the experience to assist.
Team interactions for a campaign such as this are best run with:
- weekly "check-in" meetings, ideally on the first working day of the week - to review progress of the campaign and identify any longer term issues or opportunities that might not have come up at stand-ups. This allows everyone to both celebrate successes and to hold others accountable for their agreed fundraising tasks.
Networks are the bedrock of any campaign. You need to map existing networks, pinpoint the influencers and influences of these networks, and identify potential networks that you are yet to build, which will be important for the campaign.
We strongly recommend undertaking network mapping workshops: two to three hour sessions that enables a group of people connected to the organization or campaign to brainstorm networks in an open manner. These allow everyone to contribute their ideas, connections and channels in a way that will help maximize campaign engagement.
These workshops are not particularly hard to deliver, but ideally you will want to train key staff in running them, so they can be repeated several times to ensure maximum network exposure. Typically, organizations will have several constituent groups who can help with network mapping - e.g. trustees, advancement staff, the campaign team, directors, , students, alumni etc.
Once you have mapped influencers, you should also run bottom-up network mapping, focusing on key subsets of potential "public" support for the campaign - e.g. those who are likely to give $500 or less but the vast majority of whom may not be within your inner circle. This builds the "money table" for the campaign (mentioned earlier), and will help us to simulate the campaign and generate suggested targets. Ideally this group will be active members of the influencer or ambassador team to share any messaging to their networks. Hint: think engaged volunteers and/or alumni club leaders.
Combined with solid campaign messaging, this is an important piece for going beyond fundraising from the audiences we can already reach.
It’s vital to establish and coordinate a team of people who are responsible for communications with potential “influencers” and “ambassadors”. These will be the lifeblood of your campaign - forming both the innovator and early adopter groups as well as being the “social proof backbone” of your campaign (see below).
This section covers the basics of creating the engagement plan, getting your internal stakeholders on board, and coordinating them to deliver what is required.
Before we dive in it’s important to distinguish between what we define as an influencer and ambassador.
- An individual/group that has access to a vast audience and had the ability to influence their thoughts and decisions, typically on a certain topic.
- An individual that is passionate about your institution and is willing to publicly advocate for it. They may or may not be able to access large groups but they can convince others on a one to one basis.
We recommend creating Influencer and Ambassador personas. If you have ever created donor personas then your template can be tweaked for this. If you have never created personas before then using any marketing template will suffice for your first go. This will help focus your messaging and internal understanding on what these roles are.
We suggest identifying the key members of the team who are most likely to interface with potential influencers and ambassadors (it is likely these could be different people) across different categories e.g. press, famous alum, community groups, student body etc. Get these staff into a meeting room, and run through with them each potential target identified in the network mapping exercise, with a view to answering the key questions in the goal (who, how, what, etc). If possible, we suggest you invite an external consultant into this meeting, as it can help with facilitation.
For each potential influencer, you should be able to identify a next action and assign this to a person, along with a date for this to be done by. The campaign manager is responsible for collating the outcomes of these engagements, and defining next actions after the initial interaction. If a clear next action cannot be identified, the potential influencer should be removed from the list, as it is unlikely that any useful progress can be made with them.
It is possible to break the meeting down into different meetings if, for example, the key people interfacing with media do not overlap with those interfacing with celebrities.
Where we might treat influencers on an individual basis we should consider running a program for Ambassadors. By program, we mean systematically looking to recruit, engage, give next actions, gamify and reward ambassadors en masse
There is software that will allow you to do this on scale, for example Hubbub Ambassadors and Social Toaster. In an ideal world this tool will integrate with your Giving Day platform. We have run Giving Days that has seen as much as 28% of their gifts come from Ambassador referrals.
However, a tool is not compulsory and you can run a program from a spreadsheet and good organizational skills. Keep in mind however, that the time element increases dramatically and results most likely will decrease without a tool.
Taking Advantage of Social Media
Below is a well-known engagement cycle:
Those who will engage with / buy your product, or get involved in your campaign, with minimal friction. These will often be people connected to you, or those who share the same vision as you for the future.
- Early Adopters
People who are not necessarily aligned on your vision, but are driven by a desire to be first, because what you are doing is cool, and it’s cool to be first.
- Early Majority and Late Majority
This is where most people are. They exist on a continuum. Typically, Early Majority will engage with someone if they can see at least a few proof points of others – people like them – doing the same. Typically Late Majority will engage with someone if they fear they will be left behind without it.
These are those who are late to the game, and who really only engage because of the fear of missing out (FOMO, in modern web parlance).
In his seminal book “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products”, Geoffrey Moore observed that there can be great difficulty in crossing the gap between Early Adopters and Early Majority. There are vastly different motivations between the groups, and it can be very difficult for those in the Early Majority to adequately assess whether anyone else is using a particular solution or engaging with a particular campaign. What is happening in the Early and Late Majority segments is that ever-increasing “social proof” is required to get people to engage. This can only be delivered by showing people in those groups that others like them are playing ball.
A great example of this happening is illustrated in this 3 minute video: How to Start a Movement.
With direct-marketing based solutions, this same problem exists in fundraising and engagement. The vast majority of our audiences will only engage if they see others also doing so. If you imagine a telephone or direct mail campaign where 90%+ of the respondents will only participate if they can see that one of their friends has already participated, you can see that we run head first into a brick wall.
At its core, digital – largely due to the use and rapid growth of social media – is fundamentally different, because communication is networked. Organizations can and do run their own pages and accounts, but the vast majority of communication on social media is peer-to-peer. In this way, social media provides us with the tools to encourage those who have engaged to demonstrate and publicize their participation. This increases the visibility of the “early adopters” and provides the social proof needed to crack the majority.
Public segments - such as those on social media or other subsets of the community - will need to be targeted with relevant, compelling stories and messaging, as covered earlier. To actually determine which messaging works, invite these users in, and discuss it with them. This section briefly covers what you need to do to get this to happen.
Public Comms Goals
Each segment is likely to require very different methods of approaching and engaging, so we advise waiting until after a detailed network analysis has been undertaken before creating specific engagement plans. The only solid commitment needed at this stage is to commit to running a messaging workshop or session with each key segment to validate (or refine) the proposed campaign messaging.
Once messaging has been agreed and tested with segments, you need to identify the channels by which these segments can be reached. At this stage, a workshop meeting should be arranged, involving the stakeholders responsible for managing influencers and press, in order to detail the next actions needed to reach each segment. Any segment where a clear next action cannot be identified, and an additional potential influencer cannot be identified and engaged, should be removed from the campaign plan, as it will be difficult to generate deliberately managed traction. (It may still be possible for the campaign storytelling to engage the segment, but it will not be something that is delivered through influencer planning, so it does not need detailed management).
Public Comms Goals
Matching gifts and challenges can super-charge your campaign. Even a relatively small amount of matched giving provides a few key things:
- Validation that the Giving Day is credible.
- Momentum and inspiration for people to get involved early.
- Messaging about challenge progress during the day.
Some example challenges are:
- Young Alumni/Student Giving
- Number of Gifts between a certain hour will be matched
- Facebook Video Challenge based on the number of video shares
- Prize for the department with the biggest participation.
Your office will be able to brainstorm many engaging challenges. However, the issue is not the number of ideas it is the resources and focus. Once you have a list of challenges you would like to run we recommend going through a team exercise of just choosing the best 3 or 4. Only if you have the resources to do more should you.
Most significantly-sized organizations have a tier of low-level major donors, giving $1k-10k annually. This tier is typically difficult and expensive to solicit and steward, as their giving is not quite at a level where deep personalization and physical meetings are easy to justify. However, it’s above the level where standard communications and stewardship can be used. Across the Hubbub network, we have seen almost $750k in low-level major donor matching gifts contributed in the past year alone.
Securing these gifts normally requires the involvement of whoever handles the major donors. Engaging them in the Giving Day and explaining the value of the lower-cost solicitation and stewardship journey is the best sell. However you’ll need to get used to providing them with more personalized and detailed campaign materials - you can’t just point them at a website.
Public Comms Goals
Salesforce CRM or Raiser’s Edge are examples of data storage and availability. We advise that you get a list of essential donor information and a list of desired donor information signed off by the project team prior to campaign launch.
Here is an initial suggestion for the data required:
- Email address
- Donation amount and currency
- Source of gift (e.g. Giving Day)
Here is an initial suggestion for the data desired:
- Full name
- Full address
- Telephone number
- Reason for giving/affiliation
- Gift designation
Our recommendation is to use web and mobile tools where possible, to minimize software installation and maintenance.
The tools we would endorse for good team coordination of a digital campaign are as follows:
1. Slack - for distributed team discussion / synchronization. Slack provides distributed teams with a central point to discuss issues and rapidly get questions answered without resorting to long email trails.
3. Trello - for simple project management.
4. PipeDrive or Hubspot CRM - for major donor, influencer, and press pipeline management. It is possible you can configure Salesforce CRM to operate as a drop-in replacement for PipeDrive in this respect.
5. Dropbox - for sharing key campaign materials.
Training and setup of model projects can be provided on request.
In 2017, Elon University ran their fourth consecutive giving day. The first raised $116,867 and the fourth raised $1,075,025 from 4,299 gifts.
In this Hubbub Q&A, John Barnhill, Assistant Vice President for Advancement, introduces the key principles behind a successful giving day (of any size), before opening up to a 45 min Q&A session.
Since 2014, John Barnhill has run 3 successful days of giving at Elon University. The first raised $116,867, and the latest raised $955,099 from 3,749 gifts – and became the USA’s most trending topic on Twitter and Instagram!
No matter the size of your school or the goal for your giving day, this webinar will provide fantastic insights into the key principles behind running a giving your day, and making it part of your advancement strategy. We are delighted to introduce John, a terrific speaker with a deep understanding of successful giving day strategies.
Join Dan Frezza, Associate Vice President for Lifetime Philanthropic Engagement & Annual Giving at The College of William & Mary, to learn about the critical steps you should take in preparation for your institution’s day of giving.
In this webinar Dan focuses on how to select goals that best suit your mission and effectively plan the day of giving. We will demonstrate how any program, whether big or small, with limited or overflowing resources, can maximize success with an in-house day of giving. The majority of time will focus on the months, weeks and days leading up to a day, and how to get the most out of the planning process.
Giving Days have been a roaring success for fundraising teams across the globe. The phenomenon has landed on UK shores with universities and nonprofits dipping their toes.
This webinar is intended to aid fundraising teams looking at running their first Giving Day or improving on their last one.
Justin Ware, Co-Founder, and President of Groundwork Digital, who has worked on numerous Giving Days worldwide and will offer his expertise on how UK organisations can run their own successful Giving Day.