by Lee Ernst
In the past year, my colleagues and I have noted that more and more institutions are conducting “One Day of Giving” campaigns. And several of our clients are as well. The campaigns focus on one day of giving that amplify a school’s fundraising efforts through social media. Legions of volunteers, along with staff push out the campaign message asking for support from alumni to reach challenge goals throughout the day.
You might have participated in one yourself. You wake up, check your email and find a message from the president of your alma mater asking you to participate in the school’s campaign. It’s for one day only and it’s going to be fun! These One Day of Giving campaigns are building momentum and have seen tremendous success.
It’s a new approach to engaging alumni, one that is truly meaningful to many and one that builds a sense of community. Let’s be honest, colleges and universities are often viewed as formal institutions with a certain level of gravitas surrounding them. A campaign like this allows alumni and friends to see another side of their alma mater. One that is humorous, even playful, and perhaps more spontaneous. And this is important. As donors, we want to see the human side of these massive organizations. It helps make us feel connected, and that’s a major reason for these campaigns.
Several key ingredients to a successful One Day of Giving campaign.
1. Volunteers, Volunteers, Volunteers
Volunteers are the key to making the campaigns successful. You need a social media army of top influencers – those that have a strong presence in social media to help push your message. If you have 200 volunteers that each have their own network, you will reach thousands more people than if you and staff did it alone.
2. Challenge Donors
Prior to kicking off the campaign, reach out to several donors who will agree to offer challenge matches throughout the day. This is incentivizing to participants and can have a tremendous effect on the dollar amount raised. It shows that people are out there willing to give in a really big way. Everyone’s in it together.
The reason so many of the Day of Giving Campaigns are successful is the fact that they are built around the element of surprise and create a dynamic and “urgent” or exciting atmosphere for everyone involved. Alumni receive an email or message on the day of the campaign from their institution and it’s unusual and intriguing. It’s new and they know for one day only, they have an opportunity to join forces with other alums and have the power to make a really big impact. And the results will be known by all in less than 24 hours.
4. Low Cost, High Reward
These campaigns do not have to be expensive or time prohibitive. Many institutions have done them all “in house” using their own IT, marketing and annual fund staff to organize the campaign. Depending on an institution’s capabilities to handle a large uptick in gifts and website views, they will contract with vendors to assist in the design of a campaign webpage, donation platform and marketing efforts. Many are planned and executed in a 6 month time frame. Even if you don’t raise millions, you engage people in a new way and get them to think about your school in a different way.
One Day of Giving Campaigns can be a great way to engage your alumni. My colleagues and I are excited to watch more schools participate in them and we will be posting more information in the future on this topic.