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Inspiring Collaboration at the 6th Annual Giving Day Leaders Forum

After two years of gathering virtually, the GiveGab team was ecstatic to welcome our partners back in person for the sixth annual Giving Day Leaders Forum (GDLF) from July 27-28, 2022. Held this year in the DC office of Bonterra, GiveGab’s parent company, the GDLF is designed exclusively for fundraising professionals that partner with GiveGab to run their Giving Days. 

GDLF attendees enjoyed two days of learning, growing, and collaborating as they explored new engagement and fundraising strategies, participated in peer-led sessions, and heard updates on all things GiveGab. 

Attendees from Give Local 757! and CLLCTIVGIVE take front-row seats to the opening session of the GDLF.
Attendees from Give Local 757! and CLLCTIVGIVE take front-row seats to the opening session of the GDLF.

“My favorite part about the GDLF is connecting with others who understand the ins and outs of Giving Days – someone who can commiserate with the challenges and who can celebrate with the accomplishments. I learn so much from my peers, and it’s energizing to go back to our community and share what we’ve learned and try new things.”—Brandi Yee, chief program officer at ACT for Alexandria, and host of Spring2ACTion 

A lot has changed since we first launched the Giving Day Leader’s Forum in 2017, made up of only a dozen partners gathered around a large table. But what has remained the same is our dedication to facilitating partner-led conversations that empower us to collectively push the limits of Giving Days taking place across communities and campuses nationwide. 

The Future of Giving Days 

Setting the tone for the GDLF, Charlie Mulligan, co-founder of GiveGab, kicked off the event by highlighting the successes of our partners and platform. Charlie proudly noted that since GiveGab hosted its first Giving Day in 2015, we have helped support our partners in running over 1,000 campaigns, raising more than $2 billion for their causes! 

Charlie then went on to discuss the current state of the fundraising sector and the implications it has on the future of Giving Days. As many of our partners have experienced this past year, the U.S. economy has been volatile, and many communities are dealing with the direct impact of inflation. With this, Giving Day growth, while still increasing, has begun to slow, with some donors unable to give in the same capacity. 

To navigate this difficult time, Charlie provided optimistic sentiments about how Giving Day leaders can continue to drive impact in new and innovative ways. He encourages partners to continue leveraging peer-to-peer fundraising and matches as a means to create meaningful engagement opportunities for Giving Day supporters to feel connected to the cause, regardless of how much they can contribute.  

Charlie also emphasized the importance of building long-term relationships with your donors and supporters through comprehensive stewardship strategies. By focusing on growing the number of supporters for your Giving Day and making each donor feel value in their gifts, you can lay the groundwork for larger contributions when the economy begins to recover.  

As we plan our next steps at GiveGab, we will be looking for new ways to provide our partners with engaging tools and resources that will allow them to better steward Giving Day donors of all sizes in ways that will resonate most with them. 

Becoming Better Together with Bonterra 

As GiveGab transitions to becoming Bonterra, we are incredibly excited about the opportunities this has created for our partners, who now have access to products that serve every facet of their organization’s mission. Bonterra—comprised of EveryAction, Social Solutions, CyberGrants, and Network for Good —enables and elevates the hardworking people at organizations that do social good by bringing together best-in-class tools and technology. 

It was a great honor to welcome Erin Mulligan Nelson, CEO of Bonterra, to the opening session of the GDLF to provide an overview of what it means to be a part of the fastest-growing social good company. In this session, Erin discussed the foundation of Bonterra, its chain of impact, and how together, we take a holistic approach to serving entire community ecosystems.   

Caption: Erin Mulligan Nelson, CEO of Bonterra, presents to the GDLF audience.
Erin Mulligan Nelson, CEO of Bonterra, presents to the GDLF audience.

Jack Murphy, manager of foundation relations at Network for Good, also joined us at the Giving Day Leaders Forum to speak to civic-based leaders about how its Jumpstart Program compliments our partners’ Giving Day efforts by guiding them through capacity-building strategies that strengthen their approach to year-round fundraising.  

Watch this on-demand video on Elevating Community Wide Philanthropy to learn more about how your organization can create transformational change for your community through this cohort-based program. In this video, Stacie Hahn, program & marketing director at Western Kansas Community Foundation, and Rebecca Ford, director of communication & development at Catholic Charities of Southwest Kansas, share how they leverage both GiveGab Giving Days and Jumpstart Capacity Building to elevate community-wide philanthropy and build nonprofit resilience. 

The Product Roadmap 

In perhaps the most anticipated session of the GDLF each year, Isaiah Smith, senior product manager; Vanessa Zammett, product director of services; and Molly Melia, product marketing manager; discussed new innovations to the GiveGab Platform and what is coming up on the roadmap. They also provided a space for attendees to offer their feedback and ideas. 

Our product team constantly strives to find new ways to bring impactful changes to the Giving Day platform. And most importantly, we are always looking to our Giving Day partners for insight into how they are using the platform and how we can improve their user experience. We were pleased to see many attendees speak up during this session to discuss opportunities for innovation within the platform to fit current fundraising trends. 

The main themes included: 

Isaiah Smith, senior product manager, leads an open discussion on Admin Experience.
Isaiah Smith, senior product manager, leads an open discussion on Admin Experience.

Interested in learning about changes made to GiveGab products throughout the year, such as Give a Little More? Check out our Monthly and Quarterly Product Updates blogs

Exploring Giving Day Trends and Insights 

We understand that data drives many of our Giving Day partner’s decisions as they look for innovative ways to grow their Giving Day. We have the same mindset here at GiveGab! Keeping data and trends top of mind has been instrumental in building the tools, offerings, and support we provide.   

Our project managers led industry-specific sessions on Giving Day trends we observed on our platform over our most recent giving seasons. 

Key insights from these sessions include: 

  • From Fall 2021 to Spring 2022, GiveGab supported 96 education-based Giving Days and 114 civic-based Giving Days. 
  • The average size of an individual gift has continued to grow for civic Giving Days, meaning donors are willing to give a little more from one year to the next. 
  • Education Giving Days are seeing an increase in donors giving through mobile wallet, emphasizing the importance of having a mobile-friendly Giving Day website. 
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraisers continue to be a driving force to connect new donors with your Giving Day and its participating groups or organizations. 

Learning Among Leaders 

We are honored to support a Giving Day Leaders Network full of knowledgeable and skilled fundraising professionals. Our partners are continuously looking for innovative ways to create a more engaging experience for their Giving Day participants, fundraisers, and donors.  

Throughout the Giving Day Leaders Forum, our partners led sessions on an assortment of topics that resonated well with their peers. These sessions led to insightful conversations as our partners began to collaborate on future ideas and strategies fueled by their experiences. 

This year’s partner sessions included: 

Our partner from Spring2ACTion shares insights on Giving Day storytelling.
Our partner from Spring2ACTion shares insights on Giving Day storytelling.

Celebrating our Successes 

Not only does the Giving Day Leaders Forum focus on future planning and ideas, but it is also a time to celebrate the past accomplishments of our partners and the generosity they have inspired. This year we held our second annual Giving Day Spark Awards ceremony. 

As the only Giving Day awards in the country, the Giving Day Spark Awards celebrate hardworking and innovative leaders who are sparking community engagement and fundraising growth. 

Here’s a look at the 2022 Giving Day Spark Award Recipients: 

  • The Spark Award—In recognition of a Giving Day leader who sparks outstanding community engagement. Winner: Give Local York 
  • New Face of Giving Days—In recognition of an emerging Giving Day leader. Winner: Give.Care 
  • Renaissance Leader—In recognition of a highly effective and efficient Giving Day run with limited resources. Winner: #HudsonGives 
  • Growing Impact—In recognition of a Giving Day Leader who led innovative efforts that resulted in significant year-over-year growth. Winner: Dam Proud Day 
  • Partners’ ChoiceIn recognition of a Giving Day leader who inspires their peers. Winners: The Big Give SA | Love Your Longwood Day  

Learn more about our Giving Day Spark Award winners here

Our partner from Give Local York, pictured with Casey Keller, VP of customer success, is recognized as this year's recipient of the Spark Award.
Our partner from Give Local York, pictured with Casey Keller, VP of customer success, is recognized as this year’s recipient of the Spark Award.

Inspiring Collaboration 

Among the many networking opportunities provided during the Giving Day Leaders Forum, we concluded the event with a brand-new session, Collaborative Coaching. In this session, Giving Day leaders shared stories, strategies, and, yes, even failures they have experienced while planning their Giving Days. As our attendees became more familiar with one another, they gladly shared their experiences and together developed new and creative strategies to implement for their next events. 

Attendees were broken out into three groups to allow for more intimate discussions on popular topics and trends in the Giving Day space. Each group had a facilitator from the GiveGab team as well as a partner who was willing to serve as a leader in the conversation.  

Breakout conversations included: 

  • Giving Day Budgets—Exploring how to allocate and make the most of your Giving Day budget 
  • Engaging Student Donors—Discussing creative ways to get student donors excited about philanthropy 
  • What I Wish I’d Known—Experienced partners offering advice to peers who are new to hosting Giving Days 
Partners representing Dam Proud Day and iGiveCatholic share a laugh during a collaborative discussion.
Partners representing Dam Proud Day and iGiveCatholic share a laugh during a collaborative discussion.

Our sixth annual Giving Day Leaders Forum may have come to an end, but things are just getting started here at GiveGab. We look forward to seeing the innovative and creative ideas formed during this event come to life as our partners plan for their future Giving Days!  

Group photo taken from the rooftop of Bonterra's Washington, DC, office.
Group photo taken from the rooftop of Bonterra’s Washington, DC, office.

“Giving Day Leaders Forum is the greatest conference-like experience I have ever had. It’s intimate, partner-focused, and full of lively conversation, network-building, and tons of fun! From the moment you are greeted with a smile to the “good-bye” hugs as you depart, you are filled with joy, motivation, and tons of giving day knowledge to carry home.” – Dustyn Hall, director of affinity giving & communications at Longwood University and host of Love Your Longwood Day 

We hope to see you in attendance at next year’s forum as one of our partners experiencing the joy of fundraising on GiveGab.