The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a curveball in many schools’ fundraising strategy this year, but advancement teams are now looking at including a Day of Giving as part of their fundraising strategy for the end of May all the way through the month of June. Since the planning timeline is much shorter than expected, staying organized is the key to planning a successful Day of Giving. It is possible to plan your Day of Giving by following these six steps.
It’s important to set a goal that you feel is attainable. Many advancement teams are choosing to set a number of gifts goal instead of a dollar goal to remove the pressure from donors to give a certain amount. The goal is to make donors feel like any amount is the right amount to give during this difficult time. Utilize past data and giving history to set your goal and give donors the excitement of supporting a winning cause.
Select a theme that speaks to your constituents. Many Days of Giving have seen success lately by integrating a community aspect. Partner with a local organization such as a restaurant and create challenges that give back to the community. As an example, set a monetary challenge that when reached, will unlock a food donation to a local shelter. Raising money consciously will speak to your constituents and will show that your school cares about their community affected by COVID-19.
A strong communication plan for your Day of Giving is important to make sure you engage your donors and get them to your donation page. Since you may not have time for a direct mailing, send out an email one week ahead as a “Save the date” reminder. A suggested strategy is to create an email series leading up to your Day of Giving and/or periodic emails with updates on the actual day. A Day of Giving creates urgency with your donors and you want to use every minute of your day wisely.
Develop a timeline to ensure you are adequately communicating during the day. To keep donations in motion, your plan must offer transparency and contain milestones. Make sure all your emails and social media posts are created ahead of time and use tools like MailChimp and Hootsuite to deploy your campaigns on your Day of Giving. This will save you time and help you tackle other tasks on the actual day.
It’s unrealistic to think your advancement team can do this on its own. Reach out to your most engaged donors and ask for help in spreading the word. Ask your alumni to reach out to their classmates and start a phone tree.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate. Many of your constituents are stuck at home right now and have more time on their hands from canceled activities. They possibly have the time to help you create a buzz around your campaign if you provide them with all the details and graphics. You can also ask them to ask their classmates if they are interested in starting a class challenge!
Create your social media hashtag and graphics centered around your theme. Use Canva for a quick and easy way to plan out your social media posts and stories. Start posting to social media once per day to make sure you are spreading awareness and ask teachers and staff to share your posts. Provide your volunteers with social media graphics and hashtag, then encourage them to post often on social media.
Don’t forget to update your website. Use Canva to create a slide for your slideshow to announce your Day of Giving. Even if students are not present on campus, parents are still visiting the site and will be reminded of your Day of Giving if they missed the email. Add a donate button to your Home page to redirect your donors to your fundraising page.
Since time is limited, using a fundraising platform that is easy to set up will save you a lot of time. A donation platform will save you time from creating a mobile-responsive landing page on your site with an integrated donation form. It will also create engagement, boost donations, and will keep your donors updated throughout the day by offering visibility through the campaign progress bar.
With a strong communication plan, a lineup of volunteers and an engaging fundraising platform, to help you reach your goal, you will undoubtedly have a successful Day of Giving. Consider starting early with an early morning challenge that is worth waking up for. You can create a challenge around a coveted item such as specially designed socks that will be given to the first fifty donors.
You will want to stay visible throughout the day by posting engaging pictures and videos. Since the on-campus component is missing this year, try highlighting students and teachers and incorporate a giving message such as “I give to (school name) to help Mr. Flannigan purchase instruments for the music program”. Use social media to broadcast your message.
If you can incorporate an on-campus component, you can invite your constituents to drive through your campus while you have your school band perform at a socially acceptable distance. Or you can have a few students plant flags every time someone makes a gift. You can broadcast the flag-planting on a live Facebook event.
Congratulations, you hit your fundraising goal! But it’s not quite time to rest yet. Although you planned your school’s Day of Giving in record-breaking time, you will need to thank your donors. Your donors will want to know the results, and they will want to see the impact of their gift. A giving platform makes it easy to compile your data and update your donors.
Leaderboards on BoostMySchool help you compile data in real-time
In your recap email, include pictures that show the impact such as the meals donated to the local shelter or the flags planted on the green. Showing your donors a tangible impact will help them feel good about the amount they donated, even if it was a hardship for them to give.
And for Step Seven, you can rest knowing that your efforts were impactful. If you are hesitant because you didn’t think there is enough time this year to have a Day of Giving, we hope you now feel confident that you can!
Caroline is the Director of Community at BoostMySchool. Having worked in a private K-12 school, she understands the importance of school fundraising and keeping schools sustainable for the future of generations to come. She is an advocate for education and currently has two kids in a private K-8 school.