How Online Fundraising, Gamification and Social Media Helped Raise over $2 Million Dollars in One Day | npENGAGE

How Online Fundraising, Gamification and Social Media Helped Raise over $2 Million Dollars in One Day

By on Mar 8, 2012


Most nonprofits need to raise money to survive. It’s a day-to-day fact of life.

Give to the max day: Greater Washington

And because fundraising continues to shift from offline to online nonprofits are faced with a growing need to find new and innovative ways to do fundraising through online sources. The move towards a multichannel fundraising approach (online and offline) is becoming more and more critical to long-term success.

Which is why Giving Day’s like Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington deserve a closer look.

One-day fundraising events (i.e. Giving Day’s) like those held in Minnesota, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Ohio and Texas have raised tens of millions of dollars and generated significant publicity for their nonprofit communities.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the top giving days from 2011:

Give to the Max 2011 Results

Let’s take a closer look at the impact and strategies behind Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington. To learn more you can read the full report on the Case Foundation website – How Giving Days Can Strengthen Nonprofit Communities.

Fundraising Results:

Close to 18,000 people participated in this online fundraising contest resulting in over $2 million dollars being given to 1,200 participating nonprofits.

  • 1,200 Participating nonprofits
  • 17,838 individual donations
  • $1,886,434 dollars raised
  • 148,000 in prize money contributed by five foundations

Making Online and Social Fundraising the Focus

The folks running Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington centered all the fundraising efforts online due to the fact that online and social fundraising continue to gain traction while also producing a significantly better ROI when done well.

Using the Razoo platform, Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington’s online fundraising focus produced some very respectable results.

37 percent of participating nonprofits raised $2,500 or more while 20 percent raised $5,000 or more. What’s interesting about these numbers, while seemingly small amounts, is that in prior online fundraisers run by the nonprofits themselves 64 percent of respondents said they had topped out at $500.

Additionally, 58 percent of nonprofits recruited new donors, a theme that seems to be true for all online fundraising, and 96 percent of surveyed donors said they would give more money in the future to participating nonprofits.

Using Gamification to Drive Participation:

The idea of using a contest that rewarded people with prizes for achieving certain goals, results or milestones was a key piece of the Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington strategy.

Prizes were given out from a $148,000 award pool that consisted of:

  • One set of Grand Awards that rewarded nonprofits for garnering the most donors
  • A second set of Grand Awards that encouraged nonprofits to raise the most money
  • Awards for small nonprofits with less than $1 million in revenue that garnered the most donors
  • Awards for nonprofits with the most active individual fundraisers that garnered the most donors
  • Ten Golden Tickets hourly awards, given to nonprofits that successfully garnered the most donors during a series of one hour competitions in the afternoon and evening
  • Five Platinum and Diamond Tickets, also hourly awards, given to nonprofits that garnered the most dollars raised during afternoon and evening hours

The goal of introducing gamification was to drive up individual participation by getting a large population of people to give smaller gifts rather than a small population of givers giving high dollar gifts. Based on the data below the strategy worked.

Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington Donations Total

Using Social Media to Generate Buzz and Measureable Results

Social media has been all the rage for some time now.

Every nonprofit out there is looking for ways to use social media as a part of their communications, engagement and fundraising strategies, but at the same time people question the ability of social media to produce measurable results.

Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington helped prove the point that, if used effectively, social media can, in fact, product real results resulting in an ROI that any nonprofit would be proud of.

  • More than 8,000 tweets using the  #give2max hash tag and trended status on Twitter throughout the day in DC
  • 99.4 percent Facebook activation rate of people talking about the giving day—1,716 of the total 1,726 fans
  • 26 percent of donors learned about the giving day from a Facebook update from a nonprofit or friend
  • 24 percent of donors heard about Give to the Max Day via an email from a friend
  • 62 percent of donors said they shared information about the nonprofit(s) they gave to with their respective networks.

Wrapping it up …

When used as part of an overall strategic plan and implemented well, Social Media, Gamification and Online Fundraising can unite to produce amazing results.  Results that not only bring new fundraising dollars to worthy causes, but also help impact a community.

Grab the full whitepaper by Geoff Livingston if you want to take a deeper look –  How Giving Days Can Strengthen Nonprofit Communities.



Frank Barry, formerly worked at Blackbaud helping nonprofits use the Internet for digital communication, social media, and fundraising. He’s worked with a diverse group of organizations including LIVESTRONG, United Methodist Church, American Heart Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, ChildFund Int’l, InTouch Ministries, Heifer Int’l, University of Notre Dame and University of Richmond. Along with writing for industry publications like Mashable and Social Media Today, Frank facilitates discussions, presents solo sessions and organizes panels for industry conferences such as NTC, SXSW, BBCon and numerous others. When he’s out and about he enjoys talking to interesting people about how they are changing the world – check out his interviews. Say Hi on Twitter – @franswaa or Google+

Comments (2)

  • Anguria Michael. says:

    RE:   Organization’s fundraising on Global Giving:
    Project Link
    Please  I ask you to mobilize with sense of urgency  the existing donors , friends and  all their social networks  for our project found on global giving home page /link at
    If you want to use a shorter url for Twitter, SMS, or Face book you can use:
    Our specific goal and call to action is to raise $ 4,000 from at least 50 donors. I therefore encourage you to give now as little as $ 10 to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable people, your donation is very helpful and will help us to take advantage of long –term-fundraising opportunity.
    I encourage you besides donating, to reach out to your friends, donors and their social networks to spread the word on our behalf.
    Please be one of the first people to make  a donation at
    So here is what you can do right now with urgency!
    Donate now to Shine Africa Ministries at link at or email at least five friends and ask them to donate.
    Post a link to our project page, your face book page asking your friends to donate.
    Thank you for your continued support,
    Best Regards,
    Anguria Michael.
    Project Leader.


  • Gamification surely does look like a wise step forward to help increase interaction and ultimately donations. If anyone could recommend firms that specialize in gamification integration that would be great.


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