As events went virtual in 2020, giving days became a fundraising go-to. Tania Burstin shares her thoughts about their rapid rise and the four pillars of giving day success.

March 2020 signalled a huge shift in the charity sector with annual fundraisers, gala balls and community events, which all rely heavily on face-to-face interaction, forced to cancel. 

The FIA September 2020 “Fundraising Futures Report” told us that events had been the most severely impacted area of fundraising early in the pandemic, with a median decline in income of 69% for the period March to June compared to 2019 (this is compared to a 16% decline for fundraising as a whole).  

As Australia went into lockdown, we saw many charities grappling with the serious issue of filling a large gap in their revenue. They were forced to ask the question “how do we continue to raise the funds needed to do what we do for the community?” 

Some charities were already invested in the digital space, but others were forced to pivot from their traditional donation channels by implementing new online campaigns. 

We saw two key trends, where charities worked hard for the attention of prospective donors: virtual peer-to-peer events and matched giving days.  

At mycause, we have been running giving days since 2018 and we have seen an average annual increase of 66% in this activity. In fact, these campaigns have become a vital addition to many charities’ fundraising calendars. 

We believe giving days will continue to outshine standard online appeals because of their strong gamification and communication strategies that engage donors – current, lapsed, and new. 

So, let’s look at the mechanism and the outcomes.  

What is a matched giving day? 

Generally, a giving day is a two-week, multi-channel fundraising event culminating in 24-hours of giving.  

It uses gamification to incentivise donors to give over a short and intense time frame. The incentive comes in the form of donation-matching: as part of your campaign preparation, you will secure significant gifts from ‘matchers’ (who are usually major donors, trusts and foundations or corporates) – these gifts can then be used to double, triple or quadruple community donations during the 24-hour giving period. The concept has been proven to work time and time again.  

How powerful is a giving day? 

Giving days are effective at:  

  • Raising more money than standard DM or online appeals 
  • Acquiring new donors because of the shareable and inspiring nature of the campaign  
  • Engaging major donors by securing and highlighting their matching gift 
  • Driving brand awareness through PR opportunities and short sharp blasts of promotion 
  • Building strong team morale, because this is an organisation-wide effort 

 Wonderful outcomes indeed! Here’s how to make them a reality for your giving day… 

Four pillars of a successful giving day 

Engage your existing supporter base 

Giving days are a great way to rally your current supporter base and remind lapsed donors why they cared about your cause in the past. 

As well as donating, your supporters have the power to make a real difference by becoming an ambassador or champion for the campaign. They can help raise awareness about the giving day and bring in new supporters from their personal network. 

Giving days are also a great opportunity to start conversations with high-net-worth donors who play a vital role to the campaign’s success by joining as matchers. 

Build excitement through gamification 

A key factor to a giving day’s success is building excitement around the day. 

Gamification tactics such a live countdown clock or an interactive donation multiplier on screen can help encourage supporters to donate more than usual. 

At mycause, we’ve observed that giving day donors tend to make a gift 15 – 20% higher than their average gift to other campaigns. 

Develop a brilliant brand strategy 

With giving days, charities should be creative and unique as they build a campaign identity and communications strategy that sticks.  

From direct mail, to eDM and social media, every piece of communication should be consistent and engaging across the campaign in order to plant a seed that will convert into donations. 

Rally the whole team 

In a giving day, everybody in the organisation has an important role to play.  

By engaging the whole team, including board members, staff, volunteers and key stakeholders, you will motivate everybody to work together to smash your fundraising goal. 

You can encourage your board to set up a champion page (which they can share with their networks), staff and volunteers can be featured in the campaign video, and everyone can make donation request calls in the phone room. With all hands-on deck, giving days create a collaborative atmosphere as the excitement builds during the two-week period. 

Key questions to ask yourself before starting a giving day campaign: 

  • What does your database look like?  

Take a deep dive into your database, identifying who falls into the matcher prospect segment and who will receive a donation request call on the giving day. Be sure to apply standard appeal segmentation – such as ‘volunteer’ and ‘regular giver’ – which is helpful information for anyone making calls. Check important flags are up to date and adhered to – you do not want to pick up the phone to Do Not Call or deceased donors

  • Do you have the people power?  

Giving day success relies on the full attention of your fundraising team as they build the campaign, and from your wider organisation during the two-week campaign period. If you don’t have capacity, consider a project managed option with an agency such as mycause. 

  • Is your calendar full?  

Giving days should take over your communications calendar for two weeks. Make sure other events, initiatives and announcements are paused

  • Do you have a campaign concept in mind?  

You require a strong brand and visual concept to inspire your audience to donate to the campaign. The concept must get your full love!  

By answering these questions (and then putting in place what you need to be campaign-ready!), as well as implementing the four pillars for success, you will be well-placed to deliver a successful giving day that lifts your appeal income, engages your existing supporters, highlights your major givers, and acquires new donors. Good luck!  

To watch mycause’s recent Giving Day Masterclass, featuring case studies from Rochelle Cannington at St Kilda Mums, Nikita Thomas at Royal Flying Doctor Service WA, and Elizabeth Windfield at the Prader-Willi Research Foundation, click here 

Tania Burstin is the founder and managing director of fundraising platform, mycause. To find out more about mycause, and how they can help you host your next giving day, click here.  

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