Articulating the Value Proposition
While some nonprofits may be eager to jump on the bandwagon and immediately sign up to participate in your Giving Day, there are others that will need some convincing. When doing your initial outreach to nonprofits here are a few talking points that can help make the case for their participation:
- Online giving is increasing in popularity with year over year increases of around 13%. In fact, since 2009 most of the nonprofit sector has seen double-digit growth in online fundraising. Giving Days help introduce and reinforce new giving behaviors that can help lead to greater year-round giving.
- Although online giving only accounts for about 8% of total giving it’s an important channel for more than just raising funds. The social web is a great way to raise awareness and grow a network of supporters.
- Reaching younger donors can be difficult. However, younger donors will be more likely to give during a Giving Day if they know their smaller dollars will be matched and lead toward greater impact.
- Giving Days capitalize on a moment in time (a day, a week, a month) and bring energy and momentum to a particular cause or organization. The competitive nature of a Giving Day also empowers individuals to use their peer influence to engage other donors who may not already know about an organization’s work.
- Participating in a Giving Day can raise a nonprofit’s public image considerably and expand its circle of supporters beyond the usual suspects.
- No matter an organization’s size or budget, an online Giving Day levels the playing field by giving organizations of all shapes and sizes the ability to compete.
- For an even more detailed assessment of how one Giving Day helped strengthen the nonprofit community in Washington, DC, check out the Case Foundation’s report profiling Give to the Max DC, How Giving Contests Can Strengthen Nonprofits and Communities.
Getting the Word Out
You need strong nonprofit participation in your Giving Day for the effort to be successful. Community foundations have promoted their Giving Days to nonprofits through email blasts, newsletters, print and social media, word of mouth, flyers, and advertising via radio, online, and TV. GiveMN provides a great example of a one-pager sent to nonprofits to incentivize participation in Give to the Max Day. Once you have run an inaugural Giving Day, getting the word out becomes much easier, as nonprofits and community members will likely already be aware of your campaign. What follows are some tips and resources to help you engage nonprofits and invite them into your foundation's Giving Day.
1) Make Participation Easy, Simple and Fun
Having a clear, direct call to action for nonprofit organizations is important. Remember, many nonprofits will be well into their fundraising year, and if they don’t see their participation as an easy lift, they won’t be likely to invest their energy, time and resources into the Giving Day.
2) Be Clear About the Incentives
While incentives for participation in a Giving Day will vary, gathering momentum early and explaining the benefits for the nonprofit are important. Are you planning to match donations dollar for dollar? Are you incentivizing organizations based on the number of donors rather than the dollars raised? Do you have other daily or hourly challenges you hope to embed into the Giving Day? Whatever the case, make the incentives clear and easy to understand. The Seattle Foundation’s GiveBig provides a screencast that details their “stretch pool” incentive fund, and you can learn more about matching options in the playbook here.
3) Be Transparent About How You Will Track Success
Make the Giving Day as open and transparent a process as possible. If you are going to provide incentives to the top three organizations who raise the most or have the most individual donors, make sure that nonprofits can track their standings in real time throughout the Giving Day through a leaderboard or other similar system.
Most of the heavy lifting will be done in your first year. Once nonprofit organizations have participated in your event, they will be likely to participate again and encourage their colleagues to do the same!
Setting Expectations and Getting Started
Nonprofits should ask themselves a few key questions before entering a Giving Day. You may wish to pose the following questions to nonprofits at the outset:
- What does Giving Day success look like for your organization? Is it about raising dollars, cultivating new donors or some combination of the two?
- Do you have the bandwidth (staff time and resources) to compete right now?
- Do you have enough community members who will volunteer to reach out to their friends and family?
- Will your participation in the Giving Day help you grow a network of people who you can educate and engage about your issues after the Giving Day is over?
- How does the Giving Day fit into your overall fundraising plan for the year?
You should meaningfully engage nonprofits from the outset. They should understand the full breadth of the Giving Day, including what’s expected of them as well as what they can expect of you as the convener of the Giving Day. The Idaho Community Foundation created this Memorandum Of Understanding Between the Community Foundation and Participating Nonprofits that identifies the roles and responsibilities of both parties and could be a good model to incorporate into your own practice. We’ve also tried to pull out some of the key responsibilities that you and your nonprofit partners should consider:
Responsibilities of Community Foundation
- Seek sponsors for grants and prizes
- Create a common message and brand for your Giving Day
- Provide a Nonprofit Toolkit with resources for nonprofits
- Provide training sessions to prepare nonprofits for the Giving Day
- Serve as the liaison between nonprofits and the donation platform (Razoo)
- Raise awareness in the community and generate media buzz about the event
- Work with local media and businesses to get the word out
- Inform donors via ongoing correspondence (newsletters, events, social media, etc.)
- Highlight participating nonprofits on Facebook and Twitter
- Use websites to spread the word about the Giving Day
- Offer ongoing support to nonprofits through open office hours or other email/phone technical assistance
Responsibilities of participating nonprofits
- Attend training sessions
- Create a profile page for your organization on the Giving Day website
- Post Giving Day link on your website
- Set a fundraising goal and publicize that goal to your stakeholders
- Seek out matching grant funds
- Identify a volunteer, board member or supporter to be a fundraiser for your organization
- Broadcast news about the Giving Day using existing communication vehicles
- Use social media to publicize your participation in the Giving Day
- Send thank you notes to your donors
Once you have a basic understanding of one another’s role, it’s time to help your nonprofit partners sign up and get started. Here are a few easy ways to do that:
- Explain how a nonprofit should register its organization on your donation platform. Check with your platform provider for customized guidelines on nonprofit registration.
- If you plan to certify the nonprofits as participants in your Giving Day, note that during the registration process, so that they know when they can expect to hear back that they have been approved to participate.
- Once an organization is in the system, it needs to understand how to set up and claim its profile. Again, check with your platform provider for customized guidelines to help nonprofits through this process.
The Sacramento Region Community Foundation has a great 8-Week Workplan for nonprofits participating in their Big Day of Giving with best practices for social media, board and donor engagement, setting goals, and maximizing communication tools.
Once nonprofits have registered to participate, you can provide them with the necessary tools for success. For many nonprofits, this may be their first foray into structured or competitive online giving, so for them, the Giving Day may be as much about introducing and experimenting with new social platforms as it is about raising money and awareness.
Put yourself in the shoes of the nonprofit and think about the key elements that would help prepare you to participate in the Giving Day. Many community foundations have found that developing webinars, in-person trainings and other toolkits and resources go a long way in supporting their nonprofit partners. Here are some possible avenues for providing Giving Day learning and training to participating nonprofits:
- Host in-person training events leading up to the day
- Schedule a series of webinars to dive deeper into content and platform
- Send weekly emails to participating nonprofits with updates about the Giving Day along with new tips and tools
- Maintain a blog with informational updates and educational material
Training Resources and Templates. There’s no shortage of nonprofit toolkits out there that will help set up your nonprofit partners for Giving Day success. Here are a few such toolkits that will help serve as a content guide as you begin to develop your own.
Here are a few things you may want to cover as you develop your training:
- Staffing. Nonprofits should select a staff member or volunteer as point person for the entirety of the challenge who has strong leadership and organizational skills and can commit to the entire campaign timeline and process. The time required to do this job well will vary significantly depending on how the nonprofit plans on approaching the Giving Day. You can forward this Nonprofit Staffing Plan Template to help nonprofits determine their staffing needs.
- Using Technology. Beyond how to use the the donation platform, many nonprofits will want additional guidance on online communication and outreach, especially with regard to social media strategy.
- Strategies for Matching Funds. In addition to incentives for all participating nonprofits, many donation platforms enable individual nonprofits to implement a match incentive for donations to their organization. Current major donors are the best place for a nonprofit to start looking for a funder to provide a matching grant. Make sure that your nonprofit partners know this is an option and encourage them to reach out to board members, annual fund supporters or even businesses that love their cause.
- Marketing to Potential Donors. Getting the word out in a clear and compelling way to potential donors is crucial to the success of the Giving Day. Make sure you equip nonprofits with all of the tools and messaging they will need to get this right.
Providing Collateral Materials and Other Resources
In addition to the nonprofit trainings and webinars, you may want to consider supporting participating nonprofits by:
- Building a brand. Provide organizations with downloadable icons, banners and other images that can be shared on their websites and campaign materials so that the Giving Day brand is getting out to the community in every way possible. Take a look at how the Communities Foundation of North Texas did this for the 2013 North Texas Giving Day.
- Providing customizable emails, letters to the editor and other communications. The Community Foundation of North Florida created some great Customizable Messaging for their Find. Learn. Give. Campaign, and much more can be found here in the Media Outreach section of this playbook. Here are some helpful sample outreach emails from nonprofits to donors:
- Creating videos. This North Texas Giving Day promotional video and Buckner International’s video are great examples of how community foundations and nonprofits can use video to strengthen their Giving Day marketing.
- Using Social Media. Help organizations understand how to leverage all of their social media assets. Here are some good sample social media resources from Georgia Gives Day, Colorado Gives, and the Kentucky Gives Day.