Best Practices

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Institution's Giving Day

7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Institution's Giving Day




June 23, 2022

Last modified: 

Many educational institutions rely on well-run Giving Days as a significant component of their annual fundraising strategies. After all, these fundraising campaigns can be an excellent opportunity for all sorts of donors⁠—including current students, families, alumni, and community members⁠—to support your ongoing efforts.

With so much riding on an annual Giving Day, however, it’s important that you go into your campaign with a detailed fundraising plan and some tips for success in your pocket. This will enable you to maximize revenu]e while better engaging with your donors.

Giving day checklist

And luckily, if you’re looking for new ways to elevate your upcoming Giving Day, this is the guide for you! We’ll walk through these tried-and-true best practices:

  1. Provide multiple ways to give to the campaign.
  2. Empower supporters with peer-to-peer fundraising.
  3. Inform and remind donors about matching gift opportunities.
  4. Target alumni supporters in your fundraising appeals.
  5. Promote your Giving Day fundraiser online.
  6. Motivate donors with gamification strategies.
  7. Follow up with Giving Day donors post-campaign.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in with our first Giving Day fundraising tip.

1. Provide multiple ways to give to the campaign.

One of the best things you can do to increase participation in your Giving Day is to diversify the ways in which donors can give. At the very least, this should include:

  • Online donation forms
  • Text-to-give
  • Direct mail

You might even want to consider non-traditional support methods such as event contributions, volunteer hours, in-kind gifts, gifts of securities, cryptocurrency donations, and more.

Everyone has their own unique preferences when it comes to donating charitably. The bottom line is that the more ways an individual can participate in your Giving Day campaign, the higher response rates you’re likely to see.

2. Empower supporters with peer-to-peer fundraising.

Peer-to-peer giving is a top fundraising strategy for all sorts of organizations⁠—higher education included. And it can be a particularly great way to elevate an institution’s Giving Day.

After all, peer-to-peer fundraising empowers individual supporters or groups to raise money on behalf of your institution. These volunteer fundraisers are then able to solicit donations for the campaign from their own family members, friends, colleagues, and other community members.

Thus, it offers a powerful opportunity to get in touch with new first-time donors and raise awareness for your cause.

3. Inform and remind donors about matching gift opportunities.

Corporate matching gifts offer one of the simplest and most effective ways to elevate your institution’s Giving Day results⁠—all without asking donors to give more. In fact, by combining matching gifts with your school’s fundraising efforts, you can easily double financial contributions, see significantly elevated donation impact, and better engage with your donors.

More than likely, a solid portion of existing and prospective donors to your cause work for companies with employee matching gift programs. Unfortunately, many of these individuals have likely never been made aware of the opportunity. When you integrate matching gifts into your Giving Day strategy, however, you can inform donors about matching gifts, collect employment information to identify match-eligible gifts, follow up post-donation to guide supporters through the process, and see more matches driven to completion.

4. Target alumni supporters in your fundraising appeals.

For many school fundraisers, the institution’s alumni are some of the most prominent supporters. As your next Giving Day approaches, taking the time to target this segment of your donor base can be a great way to go⁠—keeping in mind that the more you know about your alumni supporters, the better you can adjust your fundraising efforts in their favor.

For example, did an individual graduate with a degree in biology? Consider sending a donation appeal to support the expansion of your institution’s science lab and research department. Did they participate in your school of interior design? Request a donation for a program supply fund for students in need!

The better the alumni donor can relate to the fundraising appeal, the more likely they are to contribute to your Giving Day.

5. Promote your Giving Day fundraiser online.

More and more institutions are beginning to understand the vast power and potential of online fundraising⁠—and promoting their fundraising efforts online. In today’s day and age, it’s one of the most effective ways to spread the word about an upcoming campaign and solicit donations from supporters. And that’s exactly why it’s such a crucial strategy for upcoming Giving Days!

But how exactly can you leverage the influence of the internet to best promote your Giving Day fundraiser? We recommend:

  • Creating a hub of Giving Day information on your website
  • Sharing Giving Day fundraising materials on social media
  • Encouraging supporters to interact with and share your online content

Your institution’s website is likely one of your most valuable marketing assets. But the vitality of the internet doesn’t just stop there⁠—increasing online presence can involve social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more. From these platforms, you can share Giving Day materials (including an overview of ways to get involved) and incorporate links back to additional content on your main website.

6. Motivate donors with gamification strategies.

Gamification, or the act of applying elements typically associated with gameplay (such as winning and losing, point-scoring, and more), can be one of the most effective ways to elevate fundraising participation among donors and prospects.

Here are a few of our favorite ideas:

  • Goals and goal-tracking ⁠— Set specific, tangible, and realistic goals (for example, the number of donations or total fundraising revenue collected).
  • Leaderboards ⁠— Publicly recognize recent and high-level donors with an online leaderboard that updates in real-time.
  • Incentives and rewards ⁠— Motivate donors (and volunteer fundraisers if you go the peer-to-peer route) by offering incentives to give and collect donations. This can be as simple as a digital “badge” gifted to those who have given or collected the most dollars.

The idea of fundraising gamification leverages a sense of healthy, friendly competition in order to drive engagement. Plus, it can be a particularly smart strategy when it comes to time-based campaigns⁠—like Giving Days⁠—that already depend heavily on urgency as a motivating factor for giving.


7. Follow up with Giving Day donors post-campaign.

Ideally, the donor journey doesn’t end once an individual submits their donation. This is especially true when it comes to significant campaigns⁠—such as your institution’s Giving Day.

Instead, it’s important to follow up with your supporters after they give. This can include:

  • Thanksgiving Day contributors for their support (e.g., “Thank for your generous donation of $1,000 to our school’s annual Giving Day.”)
  • Sharing success stories and fundraising totals (e.g., “We raised more than $516,982 in a 24-hour period, due largely to donors like you! With this funding, we’re able to expand our research and improve upon student programming.”)
  • Reminding donors about matching gift potential (e.g., “Did you know that your gift is likely eligible for a corporate match through your employer, the Home Depot? Click here to submit your online donation match request.”)

Strategic follow-ups such as these will enable your team to further engage with its supporters. When done effectively, it will even leave a positive lasting impression of your cause, encouraging donors to give again in the future.

Giving Days have huge potential to raise a ton of support for educational institutions and other types of nonprofit causes. By simplifying the giving process, increasing your reach with peer-to-peer efforts, highlighting matching gift opportunities, strategically targeting alumni donors, utilizing online promotional tools, and gamifying your campaign to engage supporters, you’ll be all set to see elevated Giving Day success.

Then, remember to follow up with campaign participants afterward to show your appreciation, communicate impact, and keep your institution at the forefront of their minds. You won’t regret it!

About the Author

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs

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