Blackbaud’s Giving Tuesday Toolkit offers excellent advice for development teams on running a giving day event. It provides checklists, templates, best practices, and strategies that are useful for anyone in fundraising and advancement. It is up to each organization to implement those tactics for a Giving Tuesday campaign or choose another day of the year as their signature day of giving.
This article will discuss the critical role marketing plays in a K–12 school’s giving day success. After all, a single day of giving isn’t much time to attract gifts—donors must know when and where to give—so your school’s promotional strategies must be robust. These tips will help your school meet and exceed its fundraising goals.
1. Know Your Target Audience
It’s essential to assess your target audience to determine the best way to reach them. Due to the short time frame of a single day of giving, these campaigns are often centered around digital marketing strategies to inform and engage donors. However, you may have a portion of your donor base that isn’t as digitally savvy, and you don’t want to exclude them.
Enhance your digital efforts by sending a postcard that’s timed to reach homes a couple of weeks before the event. The card should include the giving page URL and a phone number for more information or to donate.
2. Get Creative
A giving day isn’t always exciting, but a little creativity can turn it into a fun challenge. Take the time to think about your event. What are the goals? Whom are you targeting? When is it happening? How are you going to capture the attention of your audience? Answering these questions can help you develop a creative approach to excite donors.
When I worked at Cheshire Academy, the marketing team opted to capitalize on its mascot (the cats) and a generous trustee whose last name was Katz, developing the Katz vs. Cats Challenge. Donors were asked to participate in the matching gift challenge, which provided both incentive and excitement for this day of giving.
Your options for developing creative content are endless, from branded animated gifs to graphic updates and even hype videos.
3. Create a Unique Giving Day Page
Your giving day should have a landing page with a donation form dedicated to the event. Ideally, you’d create the page through a peer-to-peer fundraising platform for easy shareability and engagement. An engaging landing page lets you offer content unique to the initiative and keeps donors focused on the task at hand—making a gift within a specific time frame. The last thing you want is to lead donors through an obstacle course of posts and pages explaining the campaign but not immediately offering the donation form. The unique giving page lets you educate your donor and accept their gift in one convenient spot.
Set up this page well in advance of your campaign to give your marketing team a chance to create all their collateral with that link and promote it before the date. That way, your donors can also bookmark the page, saving it for easy access later.
4. Create a Unique URL (or Two)
Your giving page must be easy to find, and a unique URL can help. Choose a short and memorable URL, then direct it to the giving day landing page. When the development office and volunteers make calls and send emails, having a simple and catchy URL can make all the difference in the world. Create a colorful banner or button on the school website that links to the giving day page. You may choose to make several URLs targeted to different groups or A/B test the effectiveness of your selected domains.
5. Have a Social Media Party
Most of your target audience uses social media, making it easy to connect with them for your giving day. Create social media ads to target that audience, using eye-catching graphics and short calls to action. Create a Facebook Event—be sure to indicate it is an online event—and invite your donors, board members, faculty, and staff to participate. Encourage them to invite their friends. Through this event, you can educate newcomers about the school, remind everyone to give, and update them on the progress of your campaign throughout the actual giving day.
Find the influencers on your campus—especially students—and get them involved. Give them graphics and templates to use on social media leading up to the event. Don’t underestimate the power of video. Set up some guidelines and encourage your influencers to live stream on Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok before and during your giving day. This is another way that a unique, memorable URL is useful—it’s easy to say in a video or show on a screen.
Be sure to thank donors in your posts. Mention them by name if they haven’t asked to be anonymous, and acknowledge their history of generosity and involvement. Share stories about the impact your school will make with the donations you receive.
6. Maximize Your Email Impact
A robust email strategy could play a significant role in your success, but only if the emails are purposeful and high-value. Your process should include a series of three to four emails. A great way to space out the emails is to send one a week before the giving day, one on the morning of the event, one as a final push a few hours before it ends, and a recap thanking participants a few business days after it is over.
Be sure to segment your email lists and tailor your message. Highlight your giving day on your Learning Management System’s resource and event pages, so families with kids currently enrolled in your school see updates as soon as they log in. They may appreciate a “play-by-play” of the day’s activity via email or text. Less-engaged constituents may prefer fewer communications. Ask your Board to share the emails they receive with their personal contact lists.
Ensure all event emails are branded and contain the appropriate call to action for the online giving form and the phone number. Remind people to watch the school’s social media outlets for updates.
7. Change Your Email Signature
To align with your email marketing, consider temporarily updating email signatures to include a call to action hyperlinked to the unique giving page. You can skip the detailed fancy graphics and use a catchy tagline with the date of the giving event. Don’t underestimate the power of keeping your message simple and to the point, such as: “Will you join our Matching Gift Challenge on November 26?”
This quick mention in your email signature is a great way to offer a subtle reminder in the dozens of emails that go to constituents every day, up to and including the day of the event.
8. “Button Up” Your Promotion Strategy
“Button up” your promotional strategy by creating branded buttons for your website, blog, social media, and resource boards linking donors to the giving page. Ask board members, parents, and teachers who run their own blogs and websites to add these branded buttons to their pages to help advertise the giving day.
Buttons don’t have to be limited to websites, either. Create pins for teachers, administrators, and staff to wear as a giving day reminder that includes the donation URL. Get everyone involved.
9. Follow Up with Graphics
Develop a series of graphics that donors can share on their social media accounts, advertising that they participated in the giving day. Each donation acknowledgment should include sharable graphics that say, “Proud supporter of…” or “I donated to…” and link back to the donation page.
10. Share Your Success
Ensure your giving platform shows the names of people who donate—unless they check the anonymous option—and a log of how close your school is to reaching its goal for the day. Many donors appreciate the recognition, and a “success ticker” may encourage others to give.
11. Get Personal
Marketing alone isn’t going to make your fundraiser successful. Your development team should recruit an army of volunteers to help—from sharing social media posts and letting their networks know they participated to making phone calls and sending individual emails—which can provide a massive boost in giving day participation. Combining a phone-a-thon with a day of giving can be a great way to reach an even wider network of donors and convince them to participate.