Fundraising Resources for Schools

4 Ways to Improve Your Annual Day of Giving

By Julie Chomiak | 5 min read

An annual day of giving is a fantastic way to drive donations and encourage participation from all of your constituents. Many schools have already adopted this practice and have realized good results from their day of giving. As development staff, we’re always trying to strive for better, so here are four ways you can improve your annual day of giving and bring in more money and stimulate greater participation from parents, alumni, grandparents, and staff all over the course of one day.

Use a matching gift challenge

Oftentimes donors will provide a matching gift challenge to schools, where they will match any gift made during a specific time, such as your annual day of giving, up to a certain amount. This creates a sense of urgency and makes even the smallest of donations feel big because they’re being doubled during this challenge. When a $25 gift becomes a $50 gift, that feels good to the donor and helps your bottom line.

The Ursuline School received generous challenge donations from a handful of their constituents and they applied this challenge to their day of giving, known as CROWDS4TUS.

From the above graphic, you can see how the challenge was rolled out and encouraged participation from various constituent groups. It was a successful way to engage their entire community and get donations. What is truly remarkable about this campaign idea is that they segmented the day based on their major donor sections. It gave each group a way to contribute and a reason to do so. It wasn’t just a “give within 24 hours” message, but created milestones for the day. This is a wonderful way to improve your school’s day of giving without adding too much additional work to your development team’s plate.

Provide real-time updates

Highlight your day of giving’s progress in real time with a thermometer or percentage to goal graphic on your website. This way, donors can see how quickly you’re moving toward your day of giving’s goal and inspire gifts from those who have yet to give. Seeing an immediate impact and watching a progress bar inch closer to its goal is exciting and creates a spirit of giving.

Image: Mayfield Senior School's GivingTuesday campaignMayfield Senior School's GivingTuesday campaign

Mayfield Senior School applied this technique to their day of giving landing page and raised over 110% of their goal. Adding this small detail to the giving page made all the difference and their fundraising efforts benefited from the school’s ability to generate a need for donations in a short amount of time.

Make it inclusive

While your students and parents live locally, your alumni base is probably dispersed across the globe. Show how donations come from every corner of the world by including a gift map and a “give now” button on your landing page so people can give from any location. A visual representation of where your gifts come from demonstrates how broadly your alumni network extends and, perhaps even more importantly, how valuable and meaningful your school’s experience was on your alumni.

St. Joseph Regional High School included an infographic to their day of giving landing page, which showed the distribution of donors, where they came from, and participation levels from both alumni and faculty. The trail sign indicates donors gave from .1 mile away from the school to 6,302 miles away. That’s a huge range and encourages people to give, even when they’re not local. An alumni connection is forever and this is a proven way to get them back in the fold and donating during your day of giving.

Don’t forget to be thankful

Saying “thank you” goes a long way when it comes to your annual day of giving. In advance of your day of giving, send out an email thanking past donors for their gifts and how their donations made a difference. Include testimonials or short videos in the email and on your website landing page to spread the goodwill and generate charitable donations. Saying “thank you” can lead to a surprising amount of gifts!

Pacific Ridge School created “thank you” videos for their parent and alumni donors who participated in their day of giving. They showed how much the parents raised and how they exceed the challenge grant by $10,000. What’s more is the video included faculty, staff, and students showing their appreciation for these gifts. It was a heartwarming way make parents feel great about their gift and look forward to donating again at their next day of giving.

Your school’s annual day of giving is a fantastic way to create interest from all of your constituencies and with these four tips, you’ll undoubtedly bring in more money, participation, and school spirit at your next day of giving.


Want to incorporate one of these tactics into your day of giving? Email [email protected] to schedule a free 15-minute consultation and learn how you can improve your school’s donation page.


About Julie Chomiak

Julie is a freelance writer and marketing consultant. Before becoming a full-time writer, she spent nearly ten years fundraising for non-profits and private schools, where she focused on alumni annual giving. She loves sharing her insights and helping schools improve their development efforts in service of fulfilling their missions of improving each child’s life.

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