Giving Day Ideas for Your Fundraising Event

Giving Day Ideas for Your Fundraising Event

March 16, 2020
Maddie Bergoon

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.

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