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Advanced Engagement Strategies for Higher Education Giving Days

Hosting a Giving Day for your college or university can be considered the finish line of a marathon of fundraising planning and communication. 

To be successful, you’ll want to implement proven engagement strategies for targeting both your early adopters and VIPs.

Defining Early Adopters

Your early adopters will be your loyal volunteers, consistent annual donors, and social media champions.

1. Loyal Volunteers

Your volunteers are some of your most invested supporters! They’ve shown a strong investment in your mission through the time committed to various initiatives and will be influential in kickstarting your Giving Day campaign.

2. Annual Donors

Your donors that give consistently every year – or more frequently – hold a significant giving history with your college or university. They may not necessarily give in large quantities, but their long-standing relationship with your mission makes them more likely to support your Giving Day initiative.

3. Social Media Champions

Your social media advocates are those that regularly share your content on their channels and have a significant following, so what they share has a bigger impact. Advocacy can go beyond traditional social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter to channels like LinkedIn, online message boards, online campus communities, and more.

Goals for Early Adopters

1. Inspire Immediate Action

Two to four weeks before your Giving Day, you can encourage your early adopters to become peer-to-peer fundraisers or social media ambassadors, to make a gift, and to share your content.

2. Encourage Ongoing Engagement

One to two weeks before your Giving Day, encourage your supporters to promote your campaign through a peer-to-peer ambassadors page, to continue sharing your content, and to take part in a pre-Giving Day challenge.

3. Ramp it Up During Giving Day

Make sure they’re motivated to promote your Giving Day as its happening, share their involvement with their peers, and encourage others to participate!

Keys to Early Adopter Success

1. Pick the Right Group

Make sure your group of early adopters represent a microcosm of your institution. Select a diverse group across all demographics and constituencies (i.e., faculty, staff, students, etc.).

2. Engage Strategically

Create the right tools to share with your supporters, streamline your messaging and delivery, clearly articulate your goals, and implement ongoing stewardship and acknowledgment of their support.

3. Utilize Your Giving Day Toolkit

  • Pre-Giving Day Challenges 
    • Social media posts, reshares, comments
    • Video likes/feedback
    • Campus events – scavenger hunt, department/group promo photos
    • Early giving promotions – using a VIP giving URL  
  • Peer-to-Peer Ambassador Prizes 
    • Offer tangible or intangible prizes 
      • Based on the volume of outreach or number of contacts uploaded
      • Personalization of individual pages
      • Number of gifts by a certain date

4. Track Results

Keep track of how your results are measuring up to your goal and share the momentum with your supporters to help inspire further action!

Defining Your VIPs

1. Consistent Donors

Your VIPs are those regular donors that give on a semi-annual basis in quantities of $500/$1,000 or more, but not endowment-level gifts, restricted or unrestricted, assigned or unassigned. Not those already solicited for a Giving Day challenge or matching gift.

2. Assigned Prospects

These are VIPs that are assigned to a major gift officer based on connections at the university, wealth screening, activities, etc., but without significant gift history.

3. Influential Community Members

Members of the university’s board, advisory group members, advisors, and certain volunteers should all be considered VIPs.

Goals for VIP Supporters

1. Inspire Immediate Involvement

Two to three months before your Giving Day, you’ll want to share the potential impact your VIPs can have to help you reach your goals and your strategy, so they can get on board.

2. Establish Commitments

One to two months before your Giving Day, you’ll want to establish the level of involvement your VIPs are committed to. Define those who will make gifts, become peer-to-peer ambassadors, or both. Review challenge and match opportunities with all of them to see who can best contribute to those initiatives.

3. Encourage Ongoing Engagement

One to two weeks before your Giving Day, you’ll want to encourage the ongoing engagement of your VIPs in a number of ways. You can ask them to solicit gifts through their peer-to-peer ambassador pages, ask them to make a gift (either independently or as part of a match or challenge), or you can ask them to simply share content around matches and challenges to inspire their peers to show support.

 4. Ramp it Up During Giving Day

Make sure your VIPs are extra motivated to promote your Giving Day as its happening, share their involvement with their peers, and encourage others to get involved!

Keys to VIP Success

1. All About Planning

  • Introduce the Giving Day 6-8 months in advance as your initial kickoff to the event 
  • Educate and train your internal stakeholders (i.e., advancement staff/leadership) 
  • Document gift acceptance and accounting rules, timeline, etc.
  • Create unique content and set goals based on college, department, area, constituency, etc. to complement your central Giving Day messages
  • Personalize the message (using emotion + logic + credibility = impact) and delivery (in-person, phone, or email) 
  • Outline your stewardship and ongoing engagement plan

2. Campus-Wide Implementation

You’ll want to get VIPs from across departments and constituencies involved to ensure the most momentum possible.

Learn More in Our Webinar!

Even with the best engagement strategies in place, the success of your Giving Day will ultimately come down to the giving experience provided to your community of supporters.

Join GiveGab’s Higher-Ed Engagement Team to get a behind the scenes look at the Giving Day platform behind the $60 million+ raised by universities like Purdue, Notre Dame, Cornell, and NC State in the Spring of 2019: