The Top 11 Planning Elements for a Successful Day of Giving

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The technology used to support a successful Day of Giving is only about half of what goes into a day’s fundraising success. People, planning, variety and smart segmentation all play a role, too.

The Knight Foundation’s Day of Giving Playbook is the most comprehensive guide book we have seen. Though it is designed for community foundations to connect, support and empower community fundraising initiatives, the philosophy remains sound in the university fundraising sphere.

Here are some top takeaways:


Start Planning Early

Start planning six months in advance. The biggest difference between success and less than your goals is planning!

Don’t be afraid of too much detail. Targeted segmenting of contacts, specializing your messaging for each affinity group, and writing social media plans (even down to specific posts!) in advance will all help you knock your day out of the park.


Set Measurable Goals

Set explicit goals so you can measure your results. Whether these goals are based on the number of gifts, the number of people who engage with your giving day web page, or the dollars raised, make sure you know what you want to measure.


Select Your Engagement Methods

It can be very helpful to set challenges, identify matching funds opportunities, and collect prizes to award participants on the big day. Remember, prizes don’t have to be tangible: a shout out on your official social media channels could mean a lot to a student or group.


Rally Your Giving Day Team

Crowdfunding can be a lot of work, and having the people you need on your side as you plan, organize and run your Day of Giving is essential to your success. You may want a different person for each of the roles below:

Person Activity
Platform Admin Orchestrate activities for all other team members on the Day of Giving.
Oversee the team leading up to and on the Day of Giving.
Organize on-campus day-of events.
Admin(s) Input offline donations (i.e. donations by telephone, check or cash in person at Day of Giving events). Manage challenges and calculate winners.
Student Ambassadors Rally on social media platforms, run social media tools (i.e. Juicer).
Participate in on-campus events, by handing out information, engaging with the student population, etc.


Build a Work Plan

The work plan included in the Knight Foundation’s resource is an excellent place to start. Below is an example of the configuration in the example:

Category Due Date Action Type Action Purpose Who Notes
Communication to the Campus Community First 2 weeks of December Promotion Promote using official social media channels Get students and organizations involved in promotion. James Lori Make sure to specify how each student can help on the day.
General Planning November Promotion Video contest Begin video contest: get participating fund groups involved in pre-promoting themselves. Campus TV crew


Know Your Budget
You probably have some budget allocated to help cover advertising, staff salaries, and event necessities. You will also likely have a budget for matching funds. We recommend reaching out to businesses in your community, organizations that have a stake in your Day of Giving’s success, and other community stakeholders to gather matching funds.


Consider Incentives for Student, Staff and Community Participation
Prizes, bonuses, social media shout outs, and Day of Giving branded material items, like t-shirts, can help boost community participation. Consider what kind of room is in your budget for these types of items, and how much human power and time it will take to make it work. Include this in your budget planning.


Have a Crisis Action Plan

The web can be an unpredictable place, and things like merchant service outages and other issues may occur. Ensure you are prepared in case of internet gremlins.


Prepare Your Communications

This can help you stay ahead of the game, even months in advance. Remember to consider what makes each particular group care about your Day of Giving. Your messaging should connect each group of potential donors to a) why they care; b) what kind of impact their donation can make; c) how they can see the impact after the Day of Giving and keep up with whichever initiatives they support.


Brand Your Messaging

It’s essential in the university environment to put your best branding foot forward. There are likely requirements surrounding what kind of messaging you should use, and details such as color contrast on the web can seem daunting. Keeping your messaging on brand can also help to build trust with potential donors: create messaging that they recognize as affiliated with your organization, and trust is much stronger.


Create a Communications Calendar

Having your communications all planned out is essential for running a successful 30 day crowdfunding campaign. It’s easy to see that it’s all that much more essential to have a plan in place for your Day of Giving.

*Pro tip: segment communications by channel, and then spread each channel’s deployment across several people. This can help keep spirits high and stress low when the day arrives.

Use the example below to get you started. Remember, you’ll have help from multiple team members, so split the work of collecting and segmenting lists and writing posts. These categories are examples only – you will have unique channels.


Know what Metrics you Need to Track

Remember, it’s important to know your goals and your target audiences so that you can accurately track your success.

Here are metrics you should track for you Day of Giving:

  • Total number of donors
  • Total amount raised (both per campaign or area of interest, and overall)
  • Total number of individual gifts
  • Total page views

Your website may be able to track the following metrics, in addition to the above:

  • Visit duration
  • Pages per visit
  • Bounce rate
  • New or return donor totals
  • Age group of donors
  • Number of alumni and active students

With well-tracked metrics, you’ll be able to see things like the number of returning donors on following Days of Giving; how much engagement raised for millennials; the preferences of your donors; and much more.