Whether it’s Giving Tuesday in December, Give Local America in May, or a day specific to your own organization, 24-hour online giving events offer non-profit organizations an opportunity to raise money and awareness and can be a real boost to your existing development efforts. LGL customer Alamo Rescue Friends (ARF), an all-volunteer dog rescue non-profit with an annual budget of under $100,000, raised $15,000 during The 2015 Big Give in San Antonio, Texas. If you’re thinking about participating in your first giving day or are brainstorming your strategy for next year, here are some tips from ARF to help your organization raise dollars—even the smallest organizations can see great results with some careful planning!
Consider the timing of the 24-hour giving event. How does this fundraiser tie in with the rest of your development calendar? If the timing is very close to, or conflicts with, another appeal or event, think carefully about how to coordinate these efforts and whom you’ll market them to. You want the giving day to augment your existing development strategy rather than distract or take away from it!
Establish a goal. Your goal might be to raise a certain number of dollars, but you could set a non-financial goal. Maybe you want to recapture lapsed donors, welcome 20 new donors, or encourage your monthly donors to make an above-and-beyond gift.
Prepare your images and communications in advance. Of course, you want donors to make contributions to your organization throughout the year. Help them understand why making a donation on your giving day is so special—what projects is your organization currently tackling, and how will a successful giving day support those projects? Gather photos to use as you promote your giving day in advance, in your social media updates throughout the giving day, and in your post-event communications. Plan your giving day communications so that they tie in with your existing communications calendar.
Recruit some close supporters to donate early—and late! It’s fun to watch donations start to roll in on your giving day. Build momentum by recruiting a few close supporters to make their donations very early in your giving day (midnight is ideal!). That way, when the majority of your supporters wake up and receive an email appeal from your organization or check social media, they’ll see that others have given and will be encouraged to make their own donation. If you’ve set a financial goal for your organization, you’ll also want to have an-end-of-day plan in place in case the deadline is looming and you’re a bit short of your goal. Again, talk with some key supporters in advance and ask them if they’ll be willing to be “on call” to make a donation and help you close that gap before midnight!
Ask, update, and thank your network throughout the day. Schedule a few times throughout the day to update social media on your progress and ask people to donate…and be sure to include a thank you to those generous folks who have already given! Thanking people by name (you may want to use first name only) is a great way to offer immediate gratitude and inspire other people to step up and give, too. Since you put together a collection of images before your giving day, you’ll have great photos easily accessible to use in your posts.
Share the results. Once the giving day is complete, tell people how it went! If you sent email appeals to your network, make sure you include an update to everyone—even if they didn’t make a donation. Non-donors may be inspired by your results and make a donation to your organization at a later time, or they’ll remember your success when next year’s giving day comes around and choose to participate then. Keep in mind that there are likely some supporters who didn’t make their own donation but helped spread the word about your giving day. One of our volunteers told us that she’d mentioned ARF’s giving day to a friend, and sure enough, that friend made a generous first-time donation. There will likely be many ripple effects like this one, and you won’t necessarily know about each—all the more reason to share your results with everyone!
Thank your donors. You may feel like putting your feet up after the giving day ends, but before you take a break, get those thank you letters in the mail! A prompt thank you will be appreciated by your donors. Tell them what the money raised will accomplish. You might also consider sending an update a couple of months later to share how their giving day dollars are being used. Knowing the impact of the donations will bring satisfaction to your supporters and inspire them to give on your next giving day!