When you hear the phrase “giving day,” you may automatically think of Giving Tuesday. The worldwide fundraising event, hosted in the heart of the holiday season, creates a burst of year-end generosity.
The catch? Your organization might get drowned out by other nonprofits competing for support.
Instead, launch your organization’s own powerful giving day! In this article, we’ll break down what a giving day is, why it works, and a step-by-step guide for how to start your own.
What is a giving day?
In a nutshell, a giving day (or day of giving) is a 24-hour fundraising campaign. Fundraisers use them for two main reasons: First, to collect as many donations as possible within the limited timeframe. And second, to grab the metaphorical megaphone for the day and create widespread awareness of their cause.
Giving days are a favorite of nonprofits, businesses, community foundations, universities, hospitals, and athletics programs. Even entire states and cities use giving days to raise funds (e.g. North Texas Giving Day).
Why an independent giving day works
Why are giving days so effective? After all, people can donate to your organization any day of the year through your other fundraising campaigns, right?
While this is technically true, a giving day offers several unique, compelling factors that inspire supporters to participate in larger numbers than usual. Consider this:
- 🔥 Your campaign has a built-in sense of urgency: Giving days are typically 24-hour (rather than year-round) events, and that ticking clock motivates people to donate. Plus, if your donations are being matched, people will want to maximize their impact while extra funds are on the table.
- 🔍 You aren’t competing for attention: What’s better than having all eyes on your cause? A giving day is a perfect opportunity to proudly tell your story, reconnect with your supporters, and reach new audiences—without shouting over other local nonprofits.
- 📅 Your team concentrates on one day: Fundraising teams are pulled in multiple directions all year. A single-day campaign lets you set straightforward goals and laser-focus your efforts.
- 👐 Your donor base feels united: People love feeling like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, and a giving day creates that unifying atmosphere. Instead of donating through a one-off bake sale or movie night, they can give on a day that’s meaningful for their entire community.
Whatever your reason for hosting a day like this, the result is the same: An annual giving day that gets your supporters invested in your organization’s future. Learn how to bring this special event to life in the next section.
6 inspired giving day ideas
Ready to host your annual giving day? Put your own spin on these ideas to jumpstart the planning process:
- 👯 Launch a matching gift program: Ask volunteers, internal staff, board members, and other generous donors within your local community to speak to small business owners about a matching gift program. That way, you can earn double the contributions to your cause.
- 🏆 Organize a donor challenge: One of the best ways to attract new supporters is to launch a peer-to-peer campaign. Ignite a little friendly competition by offering a small prize (such as free tickets to your annual gala) for the challenge winners.
- 💕 Recruit social influencers: Ask social media influencers to share your giving day on their accounts. Leverage one-click social sharing to make it as easy as possible to spread the word.
- 📬 Start a nurture campaign: Use Givebutter’s email automation tools to educate recurring supporters (and other generous people within your community) about your cause. Explain your mission, your current program initiatives, and remind them that their contributions are tax-deductible.
- 🎨 Create gorgeous, branded graphics: To help raise awareness about your cause, take advantage of Givebutter’s integration with Canva. You can create attractive, on-brand graphics, email templates, and headers for your donation page to help rally your supporters.
- 🙏 Show gratitude toward your supporters: Give special social media shoutouts to donor challenge prize winners, major gift donors, and corporate sponsors. In addition, consider making a special thank-you video to send to supporters.
5 steps to launch your own giving day
Follow this step-by-step guide to create a giving day to remember. We’ll walk through timing, goal-setting, branding and messaging, promotion, and campaign follow-up. Let’s go!
1. Start planning early💡
Planning makes perfect (or as close as you can realistically get)! Ideally, you should start holding any necessary meetings and brainstorming sessions at least six months before your giving day. For example, organizations participating in Giving Tuesday during the first week of December may start planning in May or June. Early preparation is a gift you can give to your future team.
You want as much time as possible to hammer out your campaign goals, estimate your budget, think of activities, size up your required resources, prepare marketing materials, and get in touch with sponsors, vendors, and volunteers.
2. Assemble your team 👊
Who’s leading your giving day charge? Whether you’re a well-staffed nonprofit organization, PTA group, or a brand-new startup, you need a team that will see you from planning to execution to evaluation.
Identify passionate, committed, and organized individuals, gather them into a giving day committee, and list out responsibilities and expectations. Who’s responsible for posting on social media? Answering FAQs? Reporting results?
If you need extra human-power, look no further than your base of donors and volunteers. You can recruit your supporters to become effective peer fundraisers for your campaign.
3. Set clear-cut goals 📈
If this is your very first giving day, your major campaign goals will be educated guesses. That doesn’t mean they have to be vague or lackluster! Set SMART goals—goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here are some quick examples:
- Raise $100,000 on or by October 25 to fund a new cancer research study by our university.
- Get 250 new donors to sign up for our recurring donation program by July 1.
- Add 300 subscribers to our biweekly e-newsletter during the week of our giving day.
The idea is to set goals that are ambitious enough to get your team and followers excited but realistic enough to get the job done. If you’re wondering where to start, simply set a goal to beat last year’s giving day by 10%.
4. Craft strong giving day messaging 💥
We’ve consistently noticed that successful giving days all have a clear-cut theme, fantastic storytelling, and cohesive marketing efforts. Darlington School’s first-ever giving day is one great example of effective messaging. Their team raised over $61,824 in 24 hours with a few unique and clever ideas and a lot of passion.
First, they made their donation request meaningful by asking for $19.05, inspired by the year the school was founded. Second, they put a face to their cause using short, engaging videos—one of the most powerful fundraising tools. Teachers, students, and administrators shared what they could do with $19.05 toward their school. Finally, they publicized a clear, concrete goal to reach 300 donors, earning buy-in from the entire community.
The takeaway? Be thoughtful and intentional with your outreach strategy, and you’ll see results.
5. Grab the right tech tools 💻
Giving days are short campaigns with big potential, and the last thing your team needs is to be limited by a lack of communications tools or payment options. Make sure you choose a fundraising platform that offers:
- Customizable, branded, mobile-ready fundraising pages
- A quick and easy donation process, including embeddable forms for your existing website
- Texting and one-click social sharing to amplify your message
- The ability to accept all payment methods, such as Apple Pay, Venmo, PayPal, and ACH
- Automated receipts and thank-you notes
- Fundraising leaderboards and goal thermometers
- A live supporter feed to help rally your donor base
- An add-to-calendar option so supporters can count down toward your giving day
We’ll save you some research time: Givebutter is a free fundraising platform with all of these features and more. It’s how nonprofits like Soaring Spirits International and for-profits like 6AM City launched their game-changing giving days and secured critical funding for their missions.
Raise funds for your favorite cause with Givebutter
A giving day raises a set amount of funds within a 24-hour hour span. Promoting a special, independent giving day allows you to focus your campaign efforts, unite your supporters, and ultimately hit your fundraising goal.
To see how Givebutter helps you reach your campaign goal and create a positive impact within your community, take a tour.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.