min read

cartoon of person at a desk

One of the perks of working with a wide array of groups is the exposure we have to the wonderfully creative, successful, impactful ideas that come out of our community every giving season. Groups large and small are putting together incredible strategies to engage their communities before, during, and after their big giving days/weeks. Whether you’re thinking about piloting your first giving day or you’re a seasoned veteran, the ideas below will inspire and challenge you. Without further ado…


  • Every giving opportunity should be told from the perspective of a person impacted, be it someone who will receive a scholarship, equipment, aid, materials, etc or the team that will get the opportunity to go or receives, etc. Focus on a person. People give to things with eyes, not inanimate departments, nameless team members, or a college of (engineering, medicine, business, etc).
  • Use videos, but keep them short (less than 2 min). If you can’t hook your audience in 8 seconds, they’ll stop watching.
  • Have a clear call to action in your video and your text description. Don’t assume people know what you need. “Click the Donate Now button to get involved/make a difference!”
cartoon of timer countdown

Early Promotion and Planning

  • Sticker Week – prior to your big day (within a month so it’s fresh in people’s minds), put stickers all over campus that talk about how donors helped provide things like collections of books in the library, bleachers/stadium seats, landscaping, art, buildings, equipment in labs, video screens, etc. Think of it as guerrilla education on philanthropy.  People shouldn’t be able to go somewhere without seeing how supporters have transformed the campus into what it is today. Couple this with tables/booths/people that are providing stats, quizzes, etc on philanthropy at the school and give out prizes/swag. This will help people understand the importance of giving as you approach your big ask day and further spread the culture of philanthropy at your organization. You’re priming the pump.
  • Banks, baskets, jars, etc provided to students or available around campus to start early collecting of change/small donations that are collected at various places on campus during the giving day(s).
  • Note: One CF community member asks a local bank to donate to this event by simply sponsoring the piggy banks that are used. The piggy banks are very inexpensive and have the sponsor’s logo on the side. The benefits here are that 1) the piggy banks are paid for and 2) after collecting the change, the local bank will quickly count it for the institution. (taking the heavy lifting off your team)
  • Send a physical “Save The Date” along with digital announcements 2-3 months early to start getting the date/idea on people’s radars.
  • Start regular announcements about the day 1-2 months early.
  • Start weekly announcements a month early.
  • In the 2 weeks leading up to the giving day have multiple social media posts a week announcing the big day.
  • Use volunteers/ambassadors and begin preparing them early with lists of people to contact, scripts/template messaging, images for social media, etc. Clearly define roles ahead of time and prepare them for the day.
  • Create challenges surrounding action other than donor/dollar figures.  For example, the person who shares you via social media the most during the day or during a time range, the group that can take the biggest group picture promoting the day, the person who sends in the most heart-warming personal video (phone videos are great) to ____(email address or social media handle), etc.  Think of ways to incentivize creating a buzz on campus and providing your team with content that can be used for future marketing or thank you’s.
  • Secure gifts to use to incentivize milestones for campaign teams and the day at large.
  • Create a toolkit for people to use the day-of and task/encourage people from each campaign (or the team/department/college being showcased) to use them to post.
  • Use a soft launch period (1-2 weeks prior) to solicit early donors for your event. If these gifts are collected with an alternate giving form, you can either 1) Add the donations early to the event so once it goes public you have some traction 2) add these as offline donations throughout the event to show some momentum.
  • Coffee sleeves w/ Save the Date details for coffee shops on campus.
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Day Of

  • Use your volunteers/ambassadors well!  Assign them to text, call, email, post, comment on social media, etc.  If someone uses your hashtag, they should get a shout back from the school/department/team/person involved with the campaign.  The more personal, the better.
  • Update your supporters throughout the event: Show progress, say thanks, and give some action items for your supporters. Actions can be: share our project/day, give again, recruit other supporters, whatever. Just be sure to let your gratitude shine. 
  • Post updates (that include pictures) and non-ask posts throughout the day and evening.  Your audience is leaving their day-to-day grind in the evening and checking social media; that’s when you want them to see you in their feed. Don’t stop the hustle at 5.
  • Make sure that all of the Giving buttons/links to giving forms across your institution’s websites redirect to the giving event! Your audience may not know how to get to the event and look for giving options on your main page.
  • Before the event, collect and allocate offline gifts from people that don’t care to be named (anonymous or specifically designated to this effort). Break larger gifts into smaller contributions ($25, $50, $75, etc). Post pictures of landmarks on SM (close-ups or only part of the landmark) and have a competition to see if people can identify it.  The first to respond with the correct answer wins $x to give to a campaign of their choice.
  • Be creative with the images and messaging that you put in your slider on the landing page.  Pick people at milestone support levels (donor #100, 500, 750, etc) and create a very simple thank you image “Thank you, ____ (name)  Donor #500!”
  • Post announcement images in your slider.  For example, “Catch the next Facebook Live at 6 pm ET”
cartoon of building with graphics of organization operations

On-Campus Events/Activities

  • Host live events! This can look like booths/tables on campus, a happy hour off campus, ice cream socials (or cake!) on the main lawn.
  • Go where the people are. Is there a game, race, plunge, dorm competition where you can plug the day? Use it!
  • Provide opportunities for pictures with “I gave…” or “(Institution Name) changed my life by…” kinds of messages that can be personalized. Get your mascot involved.  Encourage the sharing of pictures on Social Media with your hashtag.
  • Take your own videos and pictures to use in your office’s social media posts and thank yous this giving season. In places where there’s a lot of activity, get a lot of people to just look at a camera and say “thank you”, “because of you…”, have other say things like “I have a scholarship”, a team say “we get to go to ____ (destination)” or “we get new ___ (equipment/supplies)”, “I get to build a…(racecar, solar house, etc)”, “I’m the first person in my family to go to college”, “I’m going to be a…(doctor, engineer, dancer, actor, psychologist, etc)”.  You can use this in a thank you video for later stewardship or as promotional material for next year’s big day.
  • Drawings for prizes for people that have given and/or people that have shared via social media.
  • Decorate the campus! Put up driveway signs, stake the lawn with supporter’s names, hang banners, put down floor stickers, have a digital board take-over, get out the chalk.  Nobody on campus that day should be able to say “I didn’t know about it.”
  • Before the event, collect and allocate offline gifts from people that don’t care to be named (anonymous or specifically designated to this effort). Break larger gifts into smaller contributions ($25, $50, $75, etc).  Have a scavenger hunt on campus on the big day to find hidden items (stuffed animals or figurines of your mascot) that have a printed tag/instructions that lets them know that because they’ve found this (thing), a gift of $x will be made in their name by posting a picture of them holding the item w/ your day’s hashtag to social media. Be on the lookout for the post!
cartoon of wallet with money


  • ThankView examples
  • Segmenting different giving levels with tailored thank you’s.  For example:
    •  $1-$49 – video thanks
    • $50-$99 – handwritten postcard – capitalize on on-campus activity by having stacks of blank postcards with sample messages for students to fill out while waiting to play games, take pictures, get prizes, etc.
    • $100-$999 – phone call (NO additional solicitation, just thanks from a student)
    • $1000+ – personalized short video of thanks from a student
  • Make sure your supporters get updates about their impact at various times (WITHOUT a new solicitation for giving).
    • Immediately after their gift
    • At the close of the giving period/1 week after close : Once all your gifts have been processed and you have the final numbers, share again. Thank your audience again and consider sending new content, maybe a video from on-campus events that day, or more details on the impact their gift is making.
    • 1 month after close
    • 3 months after close
  • Get smarter at asking! Make sure to pay attention to what donors have given to LAST year or LAST event and target them accordingly. It makes a difference when the communications are personal!
  • DON’T
    • Add all your supporters to your alumni solicitation list
    • Thank a donor and ask for more at the same time!

We hope that you were able to pull out a few new ideas to try during this next giving season! If you’d like to discuss any further, touch in with us; we’re happy to talk. We’re always looking to hear about successful strategies. If you have ideas that we should include in our list, add them as a comment.

Katie Haystead

Katie Haystead

Senior Vice President, Partnerships

With over a decade of experience working with K12 schools and higher education institutions’ fundraising efforts, Katie Haystead now oversees the partnerships team at Community Funded. Her passion for partner success and satisfaction aligns with Community Funded’s priorities and Katie’s unique background is well suited to manage the day to day operations of our partnerships team as well as new market acquisition.

Prior to joining the team at Community Funded, Katie served many roles within the Fundraising Division at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Her experience ranges from working onsite and remotely with clients executing phonathon programs, developing annual giving strategies, onsite consultations and also developing multichannel strategies allowing for strong synergy between annual giving channels and creating strong major and planned gift pipelines.

Katie is based in Metro Detroit and is a graduate of Central Michigan University, where she worked for the phonathon for 3 years while working towards her History Major.

Kim Jennings

Kim Jennings

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Kim Jennings, CFRE is a skilled fundraising leader who believes in the power of Christian education to raise up thoughtful, strong, committed leaders who can make our world a better place for all.

Kim Jennings

Todd Turner

Director of Digital Strategies, Generis

In addition to his 11 years overseeing Chuck Swindoll’s Insight Living Ministries communications department, Todd Turner has worked as a digital strategist for faith based organizations across the globe..

Kim Jennings

Jennifer Perrow

Senior Generosity Strategist, Generis

Jennifer is a skilled fundraising and communications professional who helps ministries articulate vision, communicate mission, and raise abundant funds to advance Kingdom priorities.