Giving Day Ideas for Your Fundraising Event


Part of your group’s Giving Day planning should include some activities that create enthusiasm for your fundraiser. Different Giving Day ideas can help put your organization in the spotlight with donors and the media. All that attention can lead to having even more people excited about your cause — and contributing!

What kinds of Giving Day ideas can you implement to increase your chances of success? There are many ideas that could possibly fit in with your fundraiser. It’s a matter of determining which unique activities would most appeal to your target donors. Giving Day ideas are limited only by your imagination, along with your time and budget.

Giving Tuesday Toolkit

WealthEngine’s Giving Tuesday Toolkit can provide you with more information on how to prepare for your Giving Day Event.

Giving Day Campaigns to Build Support

There are plenty of Giving Day ideas that can be part of your fundraiser. Some are more tried and true. Others are a little, well, off the wall, and may not work as well for your group. Then again, you may be surprised. Keep in mind that millennials tend to be generous donors when drawn to your cause. They also like to be part of the activities. So if you can, give them a way to get directly involved. In any case, whatever you can do to build excitement can only help energize your fundraising efforts.

To get you started, here are some Giving Day ideas for campaigns.

Peer-to-peer campaign

A peer-to-peer campaign relies on tapping into personal networks for higher total donations. A $500 personal donation? Maybe not. But how about asking five friends for $100 apiece? Classy, a creator of fundraising software for nonprofits, found the median, nonrecurring donation is $50. Peer-to-peer one-time donations are higher, with the median at $105. And your message will also become known by more people.

Game of Tag

This Giving Day idea is intended to grow your donor list even more than gain donations. Here’s where you typically ask for a smaller donation, such as $10 or even $5. The key here is the second “ask.” Have each donor tag a specific number of people to donate the same amount. Say the amount is $10, and you’re asking them to tag four or five of their friends, family or coworkers via personal social media. Everyone who gets tagged must match the first gift to your campaign. (Who would turn down a $10 request from a friend?) Then those people tag four or five more people, and so on. You get the idea.

Giving Day competition

If your group has chapters, departments or teams, you can benefit from a friendly Giving Day competition. For those who bring in the most contributions, award them more than just bragging rights. How about a small prize? Lunch for everyone in the department? A pair of movie tickets for each person? You’ll find something appropriate.

Performance challenge

Get your donors excited about your Giving Day fundraiser when you reach certain milestones. How about having someone perform an unusual activity. What kind of performance might your audience pay to see? Would your donors like to watch as the head of your organization splashes into a dunk tank? Or maybe a local celebrity could perform some kind of activity? Then record those moments and share them online.

Donor incentives

A variety of incentives can help motivate donors to give more. Matching funds are a great way to build excitement and encourage donations. You can either match funds according to a dollar amount (the first $100,000) or a time period (from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.). Ideally, you’ll be able to get multiple sponsors to provide matching funds. And who wouldn’t want to contribute if their dollars are doubled?

You can also “award” merchandise. Here again, the type of prizes you offer is unlimited. But make it something your donors will actually want or use. This way, they’ll keep the item and be reminded of your group. Even a logo coffee mug could fit the bill.

 Silent auction

Silent auctions can work well for many types of fundraisers. If you can secure unique items and even experiences (as in a travel package), better yet. You’ll be offering donors an opportunity to support your cause and receive some cool merchandise. Here it’s all about creating a bidding war.

Live event

Plan a live event or two to coordinate with your Giving Day. Make it entertaining. Special events can range from a carnival to a Vegas night. And get sponsors to help pay for associated costs.

Put Some Fun in Your Fundraising

Here are some Giving Day ideas more specific to different types of groups. See if there’s one (or more) that will work for you.

Higher Education Giving Days

Branded merchandise

Stir up alumni spirit. Graduates of colleges and universities typically feel a great sense of pride in their alma mater.  Offer T-shirts, coffee mugs and tote bags as an incentive for donors at a certain donation level.

Free tickets

Does your institution have a theatre company or host sporting events? Encourage higher donations in exchange for complimentary tickets.

Buy a brick

Is your institution planning any new construction? Give donors a chance to “buy a brick” for a building, walkway, or whatever structure is in the works. You can also sell the bricks from a historic, razed building.

Campus Giving Day events

Coordinate campus Giving Day events for those who are local. Event ideas should be fun stuff, such as a scavenger hunt or concert. Or how about a more formal, black-tie dinner?

How successful are higher education Giving Days? A Giving Day shared by Cornell, North Carolina State, Purdue, and Notre Dame raised over $60 million in spring 2019. In 2018, Cornell’s Giving Day activities set records by bringing in nearly $8 million in 24 hours.

Healthcare Giving Days

Health-related performance challenge

If you’re in the healthcare business, why not set up some type of a health-related challenge. It could be based on the amount of funds donated. Would a recognized person in your organization be willing to do pushups? Jump rope? Or how about a local celebrity?

Pledge event

A walk-a-thon, bike-a-thon or fun run would be an appropriate event for a healthcare organization. This is where donors “sponsor” participants in the main event, which would take place on Giving Day.

Donation fever

Take the “temperature” of your fundraiser. Show your donation progress visually with some type of thermometer. It’s healthcare, right? Encourage donors to turn up the heat.

Share progress reports by video and on social media so donors can catch your enthusiasm.

Advocacy Giving Days

Sales for the day

Partner with local businesses for a portion of their sales on your Giving Day. A restaurant could share 25 percent of the day’s receipts. Or it could be 10 percent of fuel purchases at a local gas station from noon to 5 p.m. Whatever it is, get the local business community involved and share their offer online. In return, they may get new customers as well.

Themed party

A themed fundraising event can be especially fun. The theme can even relate directly to your cause, such as an animal-themed event if you’re an animal rights group. Or an international cuisine sampling to call attention to hunger.

Success stories

Prepare special videos to run online that highlight those who have benefited from your organization. Have animals been rescued? Have teens assisted seniors? Has a new program helped homeless people get back on their feet? Tell those stories.

Whether you’re advocating for literacy, the elderly, policy changes, or some other issue, incorporate special Giving Day ideas. Tug on the heartstrings and wallets of your donors.

Get Creative for a Bigger Payoff

Giving Day fundraising primarily takes place online. Yet implementing creative Giving Day ideas can get supporters even more involved with your fundraiser and increase donations. And even local activities can be shared visually with those online.

It’s important to engage your donors on an emotional level whenever you can. Make them feel like they’re a part of your fundraiser and inspire them to take action. Beyond monetary donations, Giving Day ideas are designed to raise awareness of your mission.

WealthEngine can help you prepare for your Giving Day activities. Analyzing data related to the interests of your donors can assist you in determining which Giving Day ideas would have the widest appeal.

Our Giving Day Series

This is the fourth article in our Giving Day series. You can read more about Giving Day best practices in our first three articles on 8 Reasons to Hold a Nonprofit Giving DayGiving Tuesday vs. Giving Day: Which Fundraising Day Best Suits Your Needs? and How to Leverage Giving Days for Your Nonprofit Fundraising.

How to Leverage Giving Days for Nonprofit Fundraising

Hosting a Giving Day fundraiser is a major undertaking for any organization. Such an event typically requires a good deal of planning and coordination to ensure success. What if you could get people besides your staff to help you with your mission? Gain even more publicity and increase donations? And maximize your results far beyond your Giving Day?  Well, you can by optimizing your strategy for hosting a giving day for nonprofit fundraising.

You’ve probably heard the saying “work smarter, not harder”? That’s what optimization is all about, whether you’re moving a heavy object or organizing Giving Days for nonprofit fundraising.  Recruiting other people to help you get the word out is just a start. There are optimization strategies that can pay off far beyond your Giving Day event.

3 Ways to Optimize Your Giving Days for Nonprofit Fundraising

Optimizing your Giving Day fundraising strategies will allow you to reach more people and increase your donations. Long-term, such strategies can also help you build your donor list.  Optimized Giving Day activities generally can be divided into the following three categories.

Increase visibility

Gain as much exposure as possible for your nonprofit. These actions will inform your current supporters about your Giving Day. By increasing your visibility will also help you get the attention of more new donors.

Target ideal donors

Who are your ideal donors? Data analysis and modeling can help you segment and reach out to those who best match your demographic criteria. Increase your results with less effort.

Grow your supporter list

Use Giving Days for nonprofit fundraising as future leverage. Your Giving Day can be the start of campaigns that nurture your current supporters and grow your list.

The First Steps for Executing a Successful Giving Day

There are numerous ways you can gain more traction on your fundraising efforts by “working smarter.” The first part of optimizing your fundraising efforts revolve around your big event — holding a Giving Day for your organization. Here are some strategies you can implement to maximize your results on Giving Day.

Plan your event

All successful fundraising efforts begin with planning, and Giving Day is no different. How can you optimize your planning? For one, set Giving Day goals. How much money does your group want to raise? Is $10,000 realistic, $50,000, or more? How many donors would you like to have contribute? How many new donors would you like to add to your list? Having a target will drive your supporting actions. It can also help generate excitement when you reach milestones along the way.

You can also strategically control the time allowed for making donations. Some organizations extend their Giving Days for nonprofit fundraising beyond 24 hours. They continue “Giving Day” activities for a week or more to allow everyone the opportunity to donate.

Partner with others

How can your staff multiply their efforts to raise more funds? The answer is to get as many people as possible involved. Community and civic foundations typically support their member nonprofits, in addition to their surrounding communities. Sign on with a partner, if you can.

According to GiveGab, peer-to-peer fundraising can be a powerful way to raise funds. They found organizations using this strategy raised 300% more on Giving Day than those that did not.  Does your organization have chapters, affiliates or departments? That’s one example of peer-to-peer fundraising ideas. Create some friendly competition. You can also offer some small prizes. And in this case, your organization is the biggest winner.

Recruit ambassadors to help promote your Giving Day event. They can be people both in and outside your organization. It’s even better if they’re connected with a significant social media community. Make sure you’ve armed them with training and fundraising tools.

Here’s an interesting way to partner with your current contributors. Ask your donors for a small contribution, with one caveat: request they recruit their friends to contribute. For instance, ask for just a $10 donation. But also ask that they contact five people they know to also contribute $10. This way, you’ll pick up five new donors.

Provide incentives

A donor incentive is another way you can optimize your fundraising. Approach corporations and major donors to put up matching funds. Who wouldn’t be more willing to donate if their contributions are doubled? How about rewarding donors of a certain dollar amount with merchandise? Even a coffee mug or tote bag with your logo can be a nice thank you. It will also keep your group in sight and mind.

Promote through multiple channels

Create a comprehensive communications plan. Get your promotional message out across as many channels as possible. Send texts, emails and videos that inspire action. Social media posts will ensure donors of all ages are aware of your event. Encourage sharing of your content. And whenever posting online, always include a link to your giving forms.

Include fun activities

There are all kinds of activities you can organize as part of your Giving Days for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. They can be as simple as dumping a bucket of water on an administrator in your organization when you reach your goal. Or as complex as hosting an on-site carnival or scavenger hunt in the community. Whatever activities you choose, appeal to the widest audience for more attention.

Make it easy to give

How are you accepting donations? Are donors able to contribute through your website? Can they access donation forms via cell phone? Consider the preferences of your most frequent donors. Give them options that make donating easy.

Giving Tuesday Toolkit

WealthEngine’s Giving Tuesday Toolkit can provide you with more information on how to prepare for your Giving Day Event.

Implementing a Giving Day Donor Strategy

The second way to optimize your fundraising comes from knowing your donors. These are the people currently supporting your organization. Then you can use the information you discover to better target your prospects.

Segment your current donors

Donor screening allows you to pick up on key donor attributes. Those attributes can include wealth, income, lifestyle and affinity. Wealth models can help you optimize your time and effort by focusing on the best prospects for your organization. A wealth model is a statistical model used to identify common traits among your donors. Utilizing these data points will help you group your donors according to key characteristics important to your organization. Segment your donors and create personalized communications more likely to get attention.

Identify upgrade donors (to sustainers, mid-level, major and planned givers)

Who in your database has the potential to give more to your cause? Which donors could become sustainers, increase their dollar amount, or make major contributions? Data analysis can identify your current best donors. Wealth screening and modeling can also show you who has the most upgrade potential as a donor. Then you can target those donors and determine how to best appeal to them for increased support.

“At its core, building donor relationships, and major donor relationships especially, is about getting to know supporters.” That concept will become increasingly important as more millennials gain wealth. Millennials, in particular, are generous when it comes to causes they value. But they also like to get more directly involved. Speak to their interests and what they find valuable.

Acquire new donors

Use the information you gain through your data analysis and wealth model to target new donors. See how their traits compare with your best donors. These are the people most likely to support your organization. Concentrating your effort on this group should yield better results, reducing your cost and time for acquisition.

Create giving levels

Use an individual’s wealth data and giving history to ask for a specific, suggested donation amount during your fundraising. That includes presenting suggested donation amounts on any written forms you may send. Most of the top 100 nonprofits suggest four to five donation amounts, along with an option to enter a custom amount.

A technique called “anchoring” can also be used to leverage donation amounts. In one experiment, participants were asked if they could contribute a specific dollar amount. The cause was to save offshore sea birds from an oil spill. When asked for a $5 donation, the average contribution was $20. However, when the ask was raised to $400, the average donation increased to $143. When there was no suggestion, the average donation was $64.

You can take this optimization strategy a step further. Help donors visualize the impact their donations will make. For example, how many days of groceries will a specific donation buy? How many children will get a hot lunch? Or how many bags of dog food can be purchased? Donors who can see the actual value of their donations may give more.

According to, donors who contribute on Giving Day are more likely to donate again before your next Giving Day. Nurture your relationships with current donors. And work on turning new Giving Days for nonprofit fundraising donors into ongoing contributors.

3 Things to Remember Post-Giving Day

Fundraising is not just about Giving Day, it’s so much more.  You may host a Giving Day event only once a year, but the benefits can continue all year long. Develop a strategy to leverage contact with all of your donors and increase your fundraising success.

Thank your contributors

Be sure to acknowledge  all of your supporters promptly. Whether they donated time or money , let them know their contribution is appreciated. This is your first step in staying in touch. Also consider sending out a thank-you message through all of your communication channels to the community. Be sure to share the results of your Giving Day.

Continue your follow-up

To turn your first-time contributors into long-term donors, you need to look beyond wealth indicators. This is where you need to gain insight into who they are and the reason they donated in the first place).  Figuring out their “why” will help you create more personalized communications that encourage them to become regular supporters.

Too often staff members don’t continue to engage with their new contributors. That’s a mistake. You lose a valuable opportunity by waiting too long until your next contact. Whether you’re connecting with regular contributors or your new donors, stay in touch.

Enhance your donor data

You’ll likely gain new insights about your donors though your Giving Day activities. Use those insights to better target donors in future fundraising efforts. Utilize this new information to grow your list of recurring donors. Leverage the right data in your communications to fully engage prospects and develop stronger donor relationships.

Don’t think of Giving Day as merely a one-time event. Instead, view your Giving Days for nonprofit fundraising as an integrated part of your fundraising efforts. Data analysis and modeling is essential for optimizing your time and dollars. It’s also what WealthEngine does best. Contact WealthEngine today to optimize your donor data.

Our Giving Day Series

This is the third article in our Giving Day series. You can read more about Giving Days for non-profit fundraising best practices in our first two articles on 8 Reasons to Hold a Nonprofit Giving Day and Giving Tuesday vs. Giving Day: Which Fundraising Day Best Suits Your Needs? Stay tuned for our last article on Giving Day Ideas for Your Fundraising Event.