Joe Garecht's eBook, How to Hold a Successful Giving Day for Your School, offers great advice for development teams on running a giving day event. He even tackles the big question: Whether your school should run a stand-alone giving day or participate in #GivingTuesday?
In this guide, we're going to discuss the critical role marketing plays in the event's overall success. After all, a single day of giving isn’t much time to attract gifts—donors must know when and where to give—so your school's promotional strategies have to be strong. These tips will help your school meet and exceed its fundraising goals.
Know Your Target Audience
It’s important to assess your target audience to determine the best way to reach them. Due to the short time frame of a single day of giving, these campaigns are often centered around digital marketing strategies to inform and engage donors. However, you may have a portion of your donor base that isn’t as digitally savvy, and you don’t want to exclude them!
Enhance your digital efforts by sending a postcard that's timed to reach homes a couple weeks before the event. The card should include the giving page URL and a phone number for more information or to make gifts.
A giving day isn’t always exciting, but a little creativity can turn it into a fun challenge. Take the time to really think about your event. What are the goals? Who are you targeting? When is it happening? How are you going to capture the attention of your audience? Answering these questions can help you develop a creative approach that will get donors excited.
At Cheshire Academy, the marketing team opted to capitalize on its mascot (the cats) and a generous trustee whose last name was Katz, developing the Katz vs. Cats Challenge. Donors were asked to participate in the matching gift challenge, which provided both incentive and excitement for this day of giving. From branded animated gifs to graphic updates and even hype videos, your options for developing creative content are endless.
Create a Unique Giving Day Page
One great way to promote a giving day is through a landing page with a donation form dedicated to this event. The landing page lets you offer content unique to this initiative, and keeps donors focused on the task at hand—making a gift within a specific time frame. The last thing you want is to lead donors through an obstacle course of posts and pages that explain the campaign but don’t immediately offer the giving form. The unique giving page lets you educate your donor and make their gift all in one convenient spot.
Setting this page up in advance of your campaign is a great way to give your marketing team a chance to set up all their collateral with that link, and promote it in advance of the date. That way, your donors can even bookmark the page, saving it for easy access for later.
Create a Unique URL (or two or three)
Your giving page must be easy to find, and a unique URL can help. When the development office and volunteers are making calls and sending emails, having a simple and catchy URL can make all the difference in the world. The Website redirects feature in Blackbaud's onMessage school website system enables you to create URLs based on the school's domain that link internally or to an external site. You could even create several URLs targeted to different groups, or to A/B test the effectiveness of your links.
Have a Social Media Party
Most of your target audience is likely on Facebook, and you can easily connect with them for your giving day by setting up an event. Facebook Events don’t have to be location-based, which allows them to be a hub for all of your day’s activities. It’s a great way to invite your donors to participate, educate them about the event, remind them to give, and update them on the progress of your campaign throughout the actual giving day.
Bolster the impact of your Facebook Event by adding regular posts reminding people to check out the event, and do a paid boost on everything to increase visibility. Don’t forget your other social outlets, either. Just make sure each post is thoughtful with a call to action for the giving page.
Maximize Your Email Impact
A strong email campaign will likely play a large role in your success, but only if the emails are purposeful and high-value. Your strategy should include a series of three to four emails. A great way to space out the emails is to send one a week before the giving day, one the morning of the event, one as a final push a few hours before it ends, and a recap thanking participants a few business days after it is over.
If that doesn’t sound like enough email outreach for your audience, consider offering an “opt-in” list where donors can elect to receive more frequent fundraising communication. This strategy can help prevent email fatigue among your less-engaged constituents—which can cause them to unsubscribe—while letting those who enjoy being super involved get a “play by play” of the day’s activity.
Make sure all event emails are branded and contain the appropriate call to action for the online giving form and the phone number. Also, remind people to watch the school's social media outlets for updates.
Change Your Email Signature
To align with your email marketing, consider temporarily updating email signatures to include a call to action with hyperlinked text for the unique giving page. You may want to skip the detailed text and fancy graphics and just use a catchy tagline with the date of the giving event. Don’t underestimate the power of keeping your message simple and to the point: “Will you join our Matching Gift Challenge on November 26?”
This quick mention in your email signature is a great way to offer a subtle reminder on the dozens of emails that go to constituents daily without annoying them with specific emails promoting the event.
"Button Up" Your Promotion Strategy
"Button up" your promotional strategy by creating branded buttons for your website, blog, and resource boards linking donors to the giving page. Ask parents and teachers who run their own blogs and websites to add these branded buttons to their pages to help advertise the giving day.
Buttons don’t have to be limited to websites, either. Create pins for teachers, administrators, and staff to wear as a giving day reminder that includes the URL for making gifts.
Follow Up with Graphics
Develop a series of graphics that donors can share on their social media accounts, advertising that they participated in the giving day. You could email donors individually to provide them with graphics that they can share, but it's probably easier to have the graphics available from the gift confirmation page and email.
Create a Success Ticker
A lot of donors like to share the fact that they participated, and you could create a ticker of names that runs along the bottom or top of your giving page. Who doesn’t want to see their name appear on a success ticker?
Marketing alone isn’t going to make your fundraiser super successful. Personal phone calls and emails can provide a huge boost in giving day participation. Your development team should recruit an army of volunteers to do everything from sharing social media posts and letting their own networks know they participated, to making phone calls and sending personal emails. Combining a phone-a-thon with a day of giving can be a great way to reach an even wider network of donors and convince them to participate.
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