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3 Secrets to a Successful Giving Day for Community Foundations

Giving Days were first established as a way to inspire and increase philanthropic activity throughout communities.  

Since then, these giving celebrations have increased in frequency and popularity, with the launch of #GivingTuesday and other cause-based or regional Giving Days, and Giving Days for schools and universities, all of which are only increasing in number.

When a community foundation ponders the idea of hosting a Giving Day, they’ve probably been made aware of the many benefits of doing so.  However, there are also risks that when presented to organizations, can either be embraced as opportunities or turned away as dealbreakers.

In order for community foundations to be successful on the Giving Day and beyond, those who have hosted successful days in the past highlight these 3 main secrets to success:

  1. Go All In – Take an “all or nothing” approach
  2. Set Strategic Goals – in alignment with the longer term goals of the foundation
  3. Gather and Utilize Data – from the Giving Day to use for future success

1. Go All In

During a webinar presented by the Knight Foundation about the benefits of Giving Days for community foundations, representatives from community foundations provided insights into hosting successful GivingDays.

One of the guest speakers represented the Miami Foundation, which raised $3.2 million in their 2013 Give Miami Day (tripling what they raised in 2012) and $7.2 million in 2015!  One of the things she highlighted as an obstacle for community foundations is not going all-in for the Giving Day.

There’s a lot of perceived risk involved with investing the time, money, and general resources it takes to have a successful Giving Day, but she maintained that “going all-in” with this investment is one of the only ways to guarantee success!

What does going all in mean for a Giving Day?  Giving Days are big events that are expected to get results that reflect or far exceed the size of the region or cause that’s represented by the event.  When a Giving Day represents a location like Miami, for instance, the community foundation needs to provide all the necessary resources to get Miami-based nonprofits to sign up and also provide them with whatever tools and information they’ll need in order to be successful.  This often requires:

  • Additional marketing efforts
    • Social Media
    • Public Relations
    • Direct outreach
  • Monetary prizes or matching gifts 
    • To incentivize nonprofit participation
    • To encourage nonprofits to engage more donors and raise more money
  • A reliable and easy to use fundraising platform
    • To make signing up for the Giving Day simple and fun
    • To make webinars, toolkits, and other resources readily available
    • To make collecting online donations secure and easy
    • To make sharing individual nonprofit campaigns seamless
    • To make fundraising competitions and prizes readily accessible online

2. Set Strategic Goals

Another criterion for being successful is setting goals that are in alignment with the long-term goals of the community foundation.  If the goals for the Giving Day don’t help to accomplish any of the internal goals for the foundation, there’s bound to be feelings of disappointment. Questions to answer before hosting a Giving Day are: “What do I aim to accomplish through this event?” and/or “Do we simply want to try this out to see what happens?”.

The more specific you are with what you aim to accomplish through the Giving Day beyond the day itself, the easier it will be to act in accordance with those goals and actually achieve them.  No goals often lead to a lack of direction!  An effective way to set these goals is through the gathering and assessment of data to be used for future goals.

3. Gather & Utilize Data

Following a Giving Day, community foundations can act as information hubs regarding donor data.  Having a better understanding, for instance, of the giving demographics from the day, you can see which parts of the population you’re missing and come up with ways to better influence and engage them.

Getting even more in-depth information from post-Giving Day surveys given to participating nonprofits and potentially their donors can also help you plan for an even more successful Giving Day for your community foundation and your nonprofits in the future.

By following the procedures outlined above, your community foundation can host a Giving Day that exceeds your expectations and provides you with benefits that go beyond the day.  

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