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The impact of giving days—and how to re-invigorate yours

February 16, 2024, By Jenny Jones, Principal, Advancement Marketing Services

Giving days have become a cornerstone of many fundraising strategies, with nearly every charitable organization and institution hosting one at some point throughout the year. Despite their ubiquity, giving days still hold immense significance and can make a real impact on your bottom line, making them a foundational pillar of any annual giving program.

Drawing from my over 20 years in the industry, I have learned some important insights around crafting a successful giving day. In this blog, I’ll explore some key advantages of these initiatives and provide quick, actionable tips for re-invigorating your giving day.

The true benefits of a giving day

While revenue generation is often the primary goal of a giving day, it’s equally important to consider donor engagement metrics. Instead of focusing solely on dollars raised, you should also prioritize the number of donors you engage. Here are three key reasons why donor engagement is crucial for long-term institutional impact:

Expand your donor reach

Social sharing forms the foundation of a giving day campaign, enabling you to reach a much broader audience than your usual donor base. By creating and deploying compelling, impact-based content on social media, you can encourage alumni and donors to spread the message with their followers and networks―maximizing your reach. The excitement and personal connections inherently built in giving days often motivate alumni who have never given before to contribute to this campaign.

  • 12.7% Private Institutions / 19.8% Public Institutions

    Average percent of alumni donors who make their first gift on a giving day.

Strengthen donor relationships for future asks

An increased focus on engaging more donors results in a new batch of donors primed for future fundraising campaigns. It’s important to nurture these new relationships by continuing to create more touchpoints and highlighting the impact of their support. It’s essential to prioritize stewardship and educational efforts about the impact of their gift and institutional mission in the months following an initial donation to nurture the potential for making larger contributions in future campaigns.

Fuel your major gift pipeline

Increasing the number of donors through a giving day also creates more opportunities for cultivating mid-level and major gift donors in the future. A larger donor pool enhances the potential for identifying and engaging with individuals who may be inclined to make more significant contributions to your institution’s mission and initiatives in the future.

Quick ways to boost your giving day

In my many conversations with advancement leaders and teams that work with EAB’s Advancement Marketing Services, I’ve gathered some best practices for what works to re-invigorate giving days. Whether your institution hosts a giving day in the spring or the fall, here are three proven tips to give it that extra boost:

1. Empower your key champions and influencers with a toolkit

Provide your main champions and influencers with resources to simplify their involvement in your giving day campaign. This toolkit should include a variety of content assets such as pre-written social media posts, graphics, videos, and email templates. The easier it is for your key influencers to participate in this campaign, the more likely they will. Plus, giving them a toolkit of content that your team creates ensures a more consistent and impactful message across channels. Be sure to include clear instructions on scheduling posts, engaging with followers, ideal timing, and more.

Examples of key influencers for your giving day:

  • Your most engaged alumni social media followers
  • Board of Trustees and Foundation members
  • Previously highly engaged staff and faculty
  • Event volunteers
2. Leverage parent pride during graduation season

Many institutions have found success in leaning into the excitement and high emotion of graduation season to drive engagement and donations around giving days. Provide opportunities for soon-to-be alumni parents to support initiatives benefiting graduating students or enhancing the overall student experience. Engage them through heartfelt emails, exclusive virtual events, and personalized acknowledgment of their contributions. By aligning your giving day with graduation season, you can leverage deeper parent engagement and giving.

Examples of ways to boost parent engagement:

  • Establish a cap and gown fund to support graduating students in need
  • Provide options for parents to dedicate gifts in honor of their graduating seniors
  • Create social media content highlighting the impact of parent donations on student success
  • Host virtual celebrations for parents of graduating seniors
  • Deploy personalized thank-you notes to parents who donate


3. Align fundraising with existing campus resources and initiatives

Stretch the impact of your giving day even further by incorporating any relevant and interesting programs and initiatives already underway on your campus. Build out impact-based messaging to highlight any activities that can increase your reach and donor engagement.

Examples of how to do this:

  • Highlight existing scholarship funds that help students in need access education
  • Share the exciting research projects led by faculty members and invite donations to fuel more discoveries and innovations
  • Show off the eco-friendly initiatives like recycling programs and energy-saving projects, inviting donations to make your campus greener
  • Showcase the vital services like counseling centers and career development programs

From my experience working with advancement teams, I’ve seen just how impactful giving days can be, but they shouldn’t be your sole focus for reaching your fundraising goals. It’s crucial to have a comprehensive, year-long engagement strategy in place to sustain your donor engagement, maximize fundraising revenue, and ensure long-term institutional growth.

Jenny Jones

Jenny Jones

Principal, Advancement Marketing Services

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