Last year, for the first-ever Give Local America , the 24-hour online fundraising campaign raised more than $53 million, with giving zooming at a rate of 34 donations per second at its peak.
It was the largest single day of charity in national history, and it’s looking like this year’s event planned for May 5 could set a new record.
If Give Local America is a multi-million dollar pie, how can you make sure your nonprofit gets the biggest slice possible – complete with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a cherry?
Here are our suggestions for making the most of Give Local America:
1. Have a plan.
This isn’t a campaign you can make happen on the fly. Like all good fundraising efforts, it requires careful consideration ahead of time.
Before you jump into creating a to-do list, you need to take stock of your resources.
If you have a ton of meetings scheduled for May 5, your time to send out messages on social media, answer emails, or reach out with personal pleas is extremely limited. What about an intern you could enlist to keep track of donor thank-yous? Can a board member or volunteer man the phones?
Use the resources at your disposable to design a realistic course of action, and a checklist to tick off as the big day approaches.
The Knight Foundation has a handy Giving Day Playbook which can guide you through the process, including timelines from six months to one week out from the event.
Some items you want in your roadmap:
- Assign day-of duties
- Create donor profiles for your target audience
- Identify what support you need from your team
- Decide if and how to involve volunteers and board members in the lead-up and on the day of giving
- Select which metrics you’ll use to measure your progress and achievements
2. Set long-term goals.
Fundraising for your cause is certainly important, but don’t forget the value of engagement and building a long-term supporter, rather than a one-day donator.
Part of the fun of Give Local America involves the prizes from area sponsors that drive competition for donations. But Joanne Fritz, About.com’s nonprofit expert, advises you put your personal goals ahead of the Give Local incentives to avoid disappointment if the top spots go to groups with the largest social media reach.
Instead, focus on gaining exposure, growing your online following, and building lasting connections. Make sure your website’s homepage has a clear call to action for signing up for future communication, and is mobile-friendly. Hold an event in your community where you can encourage attendees to donate. Ensure your donor management software is up to snuff for managing new contacts and nurturing existing ones.
3. Let your audience know ahead of time.
A marketing lead-up will serve you well when the actual Give Local day comes around. Let the posts on social media grow from a trickle to a steady flow in the week prior – don’t overwhelm your followers – and send out an email heads-up as well.
Among its many resources for nonprofits participating, Give Local America has a social media toolkit with advice for multiple platforms. Some of their suggested pre-event posts:
- Twitter: “We work hard for our community & we love it! Please show us some love on May 5: [GIVING DAY URL] [INSERT IMAGE] #GiveLocal15”
- Facebook: “Give Local America 2015 is just [XX] days away! Help us by sharing this status and pledging your support for [ORGANIZATION NAME] on May 5th! [GIVING DAY URL]”
- Instagram: “Here’s a photo of our team, hard at work. Please help us keep doing what we do by making a donation on May 5! Visit the link in the profile to learn more. #GiveLocal15”
If they’re not among the 300,000 Give Local donors from 2014, your audience might not be familiar with the program. This is your chance to include them, not only in the national effort but also to prime them on exactly why they should give to your cause. Once Give Local Day gets into full swing, it will be tough to fight through the noise of many nonprofits clamoring for a gift.
Get your message out early and set the tone for a successful campaign.
4. Work ahead.
The scheduling function is your friend. Prepopulate those tweets and Facebook posts to make your life a little less frantic on the big day.
You’ll want a continual stream of communication going out throughout the day, but also consider your target audience and dependable donors, and when they’re mostly to be online, interacting on social media, or making a gift. Plan your social media content and emails to reach them at those peak hours.
In addition to planning messages encouraging giving and sharing, you should schedule donations ahead of time. Telling followers someone (especially someone they admire or relate to) is a form of social proof you can use to get them on board as well. Leveraging this kind of peer pressure (much nicer than middle school) ensures you start the day with some funds in the pot, and drives motivation for others to give throughout the day.
5. Engage your audience.
Scheduling ahead of time doesn’t mean you can stay away from the interwebs all day and still have a fruitful fundraising day.
No matter how crunched you are for time, keeping up with the live activity of Give Local America has to be a priority for your nonprofit. Plan to check in regularly on social media and give a hearty thank you to anyone who has posted about your cause.
Give Local America might be online, but it’s still a chance to reach people in a meaningful way. Pull at your audience’s heartstrings. Tell them a story. Inspire them to be ambassadors for your mission.
Last year’s event attracted many first-time donors, as many as 66% per organization, according to software company and Give Local America organizer Kimbia. That means that on top of your loyal patrons, you have the chance to reach a whole new group of people who might not be familiar with you.
Give Local America is your moment to pitch them on your nonprofit, for this day and well into the future.
Another way to push the donation tally higher: utilize a matching donor. In an experiment by Avalon Consulting, a direct marketing fundraising agency, found year-end appeals with a matching gift offer resulted in 54% more revenue and 63% higher gift on average. Allison Porter from Avalon said matching gift challenges allows major supporters to see how their contributions make a substantial difference.
6. Stay true to you.
You know what makes your nonprofit special – don’t waver from that.
Brand your content, whether it’s a Twitter photo for your last big outreach event or an Instagram video of your smiling team thanking donors. Anyone who reads or sees your posts should know they’re from your organization.
Here are some great examples, from this Knight Foundation Storify:
It might be tempting to go wild with your fundraising strategy to try to pull in bigger numbers, and while some experimentation is good, your mission should remain at the forefront of everything you do.
Give Local America also offers logos and graphics that you can combine with your own to promote the day of giving along with your mission.
7. Be kind to your donors.
Have those thank-you notes ready to go, be they virtual or hand-written. Those who give to your cause deserve thanks as soon as possible, and publically when it’s appropriate.
Donors who feel valued will build a relationship with your nonprofit, which can only mean good things in the months ahead. What you do in one day can develop a supporter for life.
You can also make it easy for your donors to spread the word about Give Local America and their chosen cause. Along with a thank you, supply them with a pre-populated tweet, Facebook post, or email, complete with links to donate, to share with their network and expand your reach.
8. Assess your success.
Remember that list of goals? Now would be the time to bring it out of the file folder and put it front and center.
Ask yourself: What did we do well? Where did we fall short? Like any campaign, you have the chance to learn from this, and the opportunity to apply that wisdom to Give Local America next year, or to kick off the holiday donation season with #Giving Tuesday.
By using national advocacy to create hometown change, Give Local America is full of opportunity for nonprofits. How are you preparing for the day of giving? What are your key strategies? Let us know in the comments below!
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