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Success Strategies for an Online Giving Day

Success Strategies for an Online Giving Day

 By Mary Hernandez, Petrus Blog Contributor


Online giving days have been growing in popularity and reached compulsory status since the pandemic forced non-profits out of the rhythm of traditional in-person fundraising events. Whether you will participate in #GivingTuesday, her Catholic cousin #iGiveCatholic, or another online giving day that has traction in your region, these strategies can help to guide you in developing a successful online giving day plan.



Online giving days are built to capitalize on the power of crowdfunding. First-time giving day participants can get discouraged after a poor showing on a giving day if their strategy consists of harnessing the power of the crowd by sharing a social media post (even a really compelling one) and expecting dollars to flow in. The crowd is a bit of a misnomer here. I rather liken a giving day to teamfunding. You may not know all the folks in a crowd, but you do know the people on your team. If you are a school or college campus ministry, your team is made up of students, their parents and grandparents, alumni, and faculty and staff members. If you represent a Parish you can capitalize on the energy of the youth team members, families, and retired parishioners. Everything in your giving day plan should be developed in recognition of those people in your organization's team. Avoid becoming sidetracked by the anonymity of the crowd.


Next, build the core team that will take your giving day strategy to the next level. You will need team captains to help you share your organization’s story. These are the people who can lead others, communicate with enthusiasm, and be an example by making an early gift in support of your goal. You also need to identify people who will make up for the area of expertise you may lack. These might include a graphic artist, a videographer, a copywriter, or a social media guru who can help you to bring your organization’s story to life visually. Think of them as your special teams coaches. Who do you need to recruit to help ensure you reach your goal?



A successful giving day involves recapping your organization’s mission for your team. You are developing a mini case for support to inspire their participation and help you maintain a narrow focus to achieve your giving day goal. Because you know your team, keep them specifically in mind when crafting a meaningful and relevant case for support. What excites them? What do they love about your mission? The good news is that you aren’t writing a novel. Instead, think of your case for support as a really short story. Reveal your organization’s mission, and then be laser-sharp, sharing:

  1. The specific goal you are trying to achieve to help further your mission; 
  2. The particular ways your organization will utilize funds raised on giving day in support of your mission; 
  3. Who benefits from the good achieved together?
  4. A compelling image to draw attention to your cause.



To get maximum buy-in, your team needs to know what the end game is. A realistic yet challenging goal will inspire greater participation and bring out the inner cheerleader in everyone when you get closer to achieving it as the day goes on. Meaningful giving day goals might include:

  • Total Monetary Goal – A specific dollar amount for a particular purpose. For example, a total goal of $5,000 to fund new playground equipment. 
  • Challenge Match Goal - A matching gift is a gift given by a sponsor to support your mission and motivate others to give. The challenge match sponsor pledges to match every gift, dollar for dollar, up to a certain dollar amount. Incorporating a matching gift in your giving day plan is one of the best ways to inspire greater giving within your community to reach a big goal. It is also an exciting way for the sponsor to be involved.  
  • Level Goals – Choose 3-4 tiered goal levels that correspond to smaller initiatives within your organization. Referencing the previous year’s popular gift levels can help you determine gift levels that will resonate with your team. If this is your first year to participate, a good guide is $25, $50, $100, and $250. You can further designate the number of gifts needed at each level in your messaging. 


The key here is to update your team throughout the day and let them know how close or far you are to reaching your goal while showing gratitude for every gift. Yes, it can seem scary to put yourself out there, but there is no better time to be “all in” than when you have your entire team behind you. If anyone is on the fence about giving, they will know their gift is needed. Competitive donors may give more than they otherwise might to see you surpass your goal. If you fall short of your goal, it’ll be a great challenge to rally your team next year. If you reach or exceed your goal, everyone can celebrate! 



Online giving days drive existing and new donors to your webpage or a giving platform to make a gift – but it is necessary to incorporate traditional and offline communication methods in your online giving day to get them there.  

  • Snail Mail – Send a well-timed postcard to remind donors that your online giving day is near or open for early gifts. Recap the high points of your case for support. Suppose your data is sophisticated enough to identify further donors who have given last year or previous years, but not in the current year. In that case, you can structure a message specifically for them. Identify them through your LYBUNT donor report - donors who gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not This Year.
  • Telephone/Texting – Remind donors about giving day via phone call or text. It is personal and effective when this outreach takes place the day before or the day of the giving day.  
  • In-Person – Many people are still not comfortable making an online gift, yet they want to support your mission. Offer a way for them to drop off or mail in a gift so they can be included in achieving the goal.
  • Email – Direct an email message that incorporates your case for support (which includes your goal), consistent branding, and compelling photos directly to the inbox of your target audience member.
  • Website – Redirect your web traffic to the appropriate giving day platform or embed giving links in a place of prominence on your website. 
  • Social Media – Captivate your team’s attention on the giving day and days leading up to it through your social media channels. Post before and during the big day, and plan those posts in advance. Share the giving page link and utilize #hashtags. Encourage your team to share posts, although sometimes sharing will happen organically. 



God willing, you’ll have a lot of donors to thank.  Craft your thank you message in advance and set a goal to thank your donors within 48-72 hours of their gift.



A successful giving day does not start here. However, chipping away at the five strategies in the 8-10 weeks leading up to your giving day will give you a greater chance for a successful showing.


There is work to be done on the big day! Communicate with your team bright and early in the morning on every channel you can to remind your busy donors that the big day has arrived and now is the time to make their gift.  Mobilize your core team – those team captains who can help to energize the donors you expect to give. Put your special teams coaches in motion to share timely social media posts on your progress and most importantly, to remind donors of your mission and its importance to the community. Have fun on your giving day, and show gratitude along the way.


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