Nonprofits: What You Can Steal & Adapt from Winning Higher Ed Giving Days
Updated: Mar 30
Days of Giving are an incredible opportunity for nonprofits to raise funds and awareness for their causes. Giving Days are 24-hour fundraising campaigns that encourage supporters to make a donation to an organization they care about. Higher educational institutions have been using Days of Giving for years and have seen great success.
While Higher Ed has developed the ‘textbook’ for running successful giving days, nonprofit fundraising leadership will be quick to point out that the average NPO does not exactly fit into that textbook use case. In this post, we’ll point out the differences between giving days for higher education and nonprofit fundraising – gleaning what we can so nonprofits can benefit from higher ed’s trials and tribulations.
Beyond Giving Tuesday
As a nonprofit organization, you've likely participated in Giving Tuesday, the annual fundraising event that takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Giving Tuesday has become a crowded marketing day, and it can be difficult to compete for your donors' attention amidst the clutter of Cyber Week emails and other competing messages. However, hosting your own standalone giving day is more about you. You pick a date that works best for you, your donors, and your fundraising calendar.
This shift allows you to focus your donors’ attention on your organization alone, without the distractions of other organizations' fundraising efforts. Additionally, hosting a standalone giving day can help you build community and affinity among your supporters.
Higher education institutions often have the advantage of being able to focus on donor affinity, whether it's through specific academic departments, athletics programs, or student organizations. Some nonprofits, especially those that offer diverse community programming, may be structured in a way to also use affinity groups to their advantage. However, most nonprofits will have to shift their focus to achieve similar success with donor affinity groups.
Nonprofits can achieve success by focusing on their impact statements.
Who are the people your organization supports? Highlight them.
What will a specific donation amount do for a person you serve? List it out.
What specific goals are you working towards achieving? Tell them what you need to get there.
Creative Accelerators and Gift Matches
Not all best practices for giving days were born in higher education. Most of us are familiar with local public radio stations encouraging donors to give at very specific times because a group of major donors or a corporation is willing to match gifts. Seek out these partnerships and opportunities in advance of your giving day. Creating a sense of urgency on top of your already urgent 24-hour campaign can yield amazing results.
Giving Day Competitions
Another lesson that nonprofits can learn from higher educational institutions is the power of competition. During Days of Giving, colleges and universities create competitions between schools or areas of study, alumni groups, athletic teams, classes, and more. They create leaderboards to show which groups are raising the most funds, which creates friendly competition.
Nonprofits can use this tactic to create excitement and encourage supporters to donate. What groups do you have that might resemble what annual giving teams in higher education have?
Schools/Areas of Study —> Departments
Alumni Groups —> Past Volunteers
Athletic Teams —> P2P “Teams”
Classes —> Current Volunteers
By creating friendly competition, nonprofits can tap into the human desire to win and be part of a team.
Building a Sense of Community on Social Media
Higher educational institutions have found that building a sense of community is key to making Days of Giving successful. They use social media to create buzz and encourage supporters to share their donations. They also create events on campus, such as giving booths or rallies, to bring people together.
Nonprofits may not have a campus to host a day-long promotion, but they can use social media to create a sense of community around their cause. Create hashtags, use video and images, and interview donors on why they give. Interview those who benefit from your programs to explain the difference that giving makes in their lives. Engage local celebrities, the local news, and use your platform to be loud!
They can use social media to share stories and engage with their supporters. They can also create events, such as volunteer opportunities or fundraising events, to bring people together and build a sense of community.
Overcome Donor Objections with Give Now, Pay Later
Here’s an area where nonprofits can quickly catch up to colleges and universities on giving days. One key component of a successful Day of Giving is the ability to maximize dollars. Givzey’s Give Now, Pay Later solution empowers your fundraisers and volunteers to overcome the top donor objection and inspire donors to give now – right when you need it most.
Unlike accepting pledges (that may or may not come through, but will definitely cost you in overhead resources), Givzey’s GNPL solution gives your nonprofit a donor’s entire gift amount in full and upfront, while allowing them to pay over time. Time and time again, we’ve seen “not now” turn into increased overall gifts, because suddenly a donor’s philanthropic values align with their personal finances.
Hosting a standalone Day of Giving can be a powerful fundraising strategy for nonprofits. And, while there are many differences between giving days for higher education and giving days for nonprofits, there’s a lot of value to be gained by seeing what works on the other side of the fence and applying it in your own backyard. By focusing on impact statements, being creative, and leveraging tools like GNPL, nonprofits can build a sense of community among their supporters and generate more funding to support their mission.