Does your institution plan a giving day? This fundraising strategy came of age at the same moment that fundraisers began reaching their constituents online. By now, it’s become mainstream and colleges and universities nationwide have made giving days a part of their strategies.
As this model matures, some of its pitfalls are becoming clear. Too frequently, giving days focus on a day-of activities and forget the work to be done after the initial impact. Here’s how to make the most of the giving day phenomenon before, during and after the big day.
Before the Campaign
Potential Pitfall: Your giving day marketing disrupts other campaigns or fundraising initiatives. You may win big on giving day, but your yearly fundraising totals are lower.
Solution: Pick the right moment to begin your advertising. Adjust your goals as needed.
Sending direct marketing pieces, or starting your phone calls too early will draw attention away from your other fundraising activities. Your donors will hold out in anticipation for giving day when they are “supposed to donate.” While you do need some time to generate buzz, it’s best to design giving day marketing to complement, not supplant your existing fundraising efforts.
The same can be said for goal-setting. Very large giving day goals can take away from the totals of other campaigns throughout the year. If you have an out-sized goal for giving day, be sure to adjust your other goals to reflect an increased focus in this area.
Opportunity: Before giving day, set aside resources to develop a matching donor program. Mid-level to major donors should be approached before campaign day. The goal is to increase their giving, help them get invested in your strategy and create opportunities for them to sponsor matching donations. Doing this legwork early helps you build a great base of support and is a method to create excitement on the big day. This is a great opportunity to increase support from known donors, but remember that if you count on them heavily for giving day, their participation might be reduced for other campaigns.
Day of the Campaign
Potential Pitfall: The team, or your fundraising infrastructure doesn’t have the capability to process the unusually high gift volume.
Solution: Before you plan your giving day, do a quick audit of your team and your technology’s capacity. This will help you create a giving day goal that is possible for your team. If you goal is larger than what your team can process, it’s time to come up with a plan. Regardless of your capacity, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan for gift processing in case something goes wrong or your team can’t key in gifts fast enough.
Opportunity: Stretch your team’s capacity by using volunteers to pre-ask for day of giving. By getting donations in sooner, you take some of the load off on the day of. Try Reeher’s Class Agent Fundraising to help your volunteers execute a successful pre-ask.
After the Campaign
Potential Pitfall: Thanking your donors for a great day, but unintentionally letting them off the hook for future donations.
Solution: You’ve just had an enormous outpouring of enthusiasm and support. Now is the opportunity to do everything you can to steward these donors. Donors need to understand that they didn’t just participate in an event, but that they funded the library, or a scholarship, or a mentorship program, for example. Send them a thank you note, but use this as a springboard to a future relationship, rather than the closing of a past transaction.
Opportunity: Adopt a process from direct marketing called the “drip campaign.” After their donation, your constituents should be added to a group of people who receive periodic communication from you. The drip is not an opportunity to make an ask, rather it’s a time to share. Newsletters, student scholarship stories, project updates, campus news and event invitations could all be part of the drip. When it comes time to make another ask, these prior donors have been kept in the loop and may be ready to reach into their pockets once again.
Reeher’s Class Agent Fundraising tool helps annual fund teams and volunteer fundraisers work together to raise money and meet goals. Check it out to see how the tools for volunteers and tools for staff can make a difference in your campaigns.