Giving Day Gamification Boosts Engagement for RNL ScaleFunder Partners

David JakieloClient Solutions ConsultantFebruary 22, 2024

Giving Days are about fun and excitement along with giving. Just check out Cleveland State’s “Give it Up!” music video if you want to see how fun giving days have become. For today’s donors, part of the fun can be making giving day sort of a game.

There are numerous ways to “gamify” your giving day. Donation matches and challenges that unlock a big gift have been used for years and have really exploded in giving days. Leaderboards are a new way to use competition to boost attention and get donors more engaged, especially through volunteering. And creative, custom events can transform your giving day into a community experience.

It’s hard to choose from all the creativity our partners show in their giving days, but I assembled a tour of some great gamification examples with links for you to check them out.

Matching gift campaigns boost donor impact and increase response on giving days

Oklahoma State University Foundation’s Cowboys United campaign focused on reducing barriers and expanding mental health services for OSU students. Every gift to Cowboys United was matched dollar-for-dollar, up to $150,000.

Oklahoma State University Foundation Cowboys United campaign message

Mrs. Barbara Harter Rippy at Medical University of South Carolina loves MUSC’s College of Pharmacy to the moon and back. She expressed this with a $20,000 matching gift opportunity on Giving Tuesday. 

Message from an Medical University of South Carolina donor making a $20,000 match

Sometimes a match can create impact by focusing on a beloved campus project. Washburn University featured a fun, small-scale targeted event that leaned into what makes their organization unique: an Adopt-A-Turtle match! 

Washburn University Adopt-a-Turtle Match

Matches can also boost giving during specific times of the day. The University of Texas at Austin’s 40 Hours for the Forty Acres campaign motivated donors to give to student initiatives during Happy Hour by offering a matching gift.

Donor match from the University of Texas at Austin's 40 Hours for the Forty Acres campaign

Challenges boost group response and meet key giving day goals

Challenges that unlock a big gift or other incentives when the donor community comes together to meet a goal can build powerful community response. Here are some creative examples:

The Duquesne University community rallied on the Duquesne Day of Giving to secure 1,500 total gifts, which unlocked a challenge of $30,000.  

Duquesne University Day of Giving Participation Challenge

West Virginia University’s Day of Giving campaign featured a special Children’s Hospital Leadership Challenge with a goal of 174 gifts of $25 or more, which would then unlock a $10,000 donation to their new Children’s Hospital. This is a great example of an impact-driven challenge that directly encourages specific gift levels.

West Virginia University: Children's Hospital Leadership Challenge

Giving days can also be powerful for your senior class gift campaign. Rowan University’s Day of Giving campaign incentivized student giving with a Class of 2024 Centennial Challenge, where 100 total student donors would unlock a $1,500 Challenge.

Rowan University Day of Giving: Class of 2024 Centennial Challenge

Radford University’s RAD48 campaign featured a Shot-Clock Challenge for their women’s basketball team. 30 donors were needed to “beat the clock” and unlock this $500 challenge.  

Radford University Women's Basketball Shot Clock Challenge

Giving day leaderboards use competition to boost engagement and volunteerism

The RNL ScaleFunder platform also allows for custom leaderboards across numerous categories like gift counts by fund, volunteer-driven giving, and campaign totals. These leaderboards are now common in giving days. Here are some creative ways they are being used:

It was all about bragging rights for UC Berkeley’s Big Give Most Dollars Leaderboard, which showcased the funds with the most dollars raised.

UC Berkeley Big Give: Most Dollars Leaderboard.

Giving days are becoming more complex in their competitions, even working in alumni regional volunteer groups. Emory University’s 2O36 Giving Week campaign engaged their alumni networks with a Rewards Leaderboard that granted bonus prizes to the alumni networks and affinity groups that brought in the most gifts. 

Emory University Alumni Networks Leaderboard for its Giving Week campaign,.

Volunteer-driven giving can be tracked with personal giving links, and ambassadors drive a ton of giving using this technology. The average RNL ScaleFunder partner generates over 2,000 gifts through ambassadors. Cleveland State University’s Giving Day campaign featured an Ambassador Leaderboard, which showed in real-time who was their top gift-generating ambassador.  

Cleveland State University 2023 Giving Day Ambassadors list

Gamification can also be about beating yourself. Rochester Institute of Technology’s ROAR Day leveled the playing field with a Percentage Leaderboard that encouraged their campus partners to “beat their best” from previous giving days. (The RNL ScaleFunder team can help you set these goals up.) 

Rochester Institute of Technology ROAR DAY Athletics Leaderboard

University of Texas at Dallas encouraged late donations to their Comets Giving Days campaign with a Final Countdown Leaderboard that provided a bonus prize to the initiative that brought in the most gifts before their campaign ended.

University of Texas at Dallas Final Countdown Leaderboard

Custom events on giving days build community and build excitement

Sometimes gamification is about meeting more than a giving or donor total. Custom events on giving days take many forms. Here’s a tour of some great creativity.

The “complete the map” game has become popular on giving days. UNC Charlotte’s #NinerNationGives campaign featured a Map Challenge that unlocked a $500 gift after donations came in from every state. 

UNC Charlotte #NinerNationGives MAP Challenge

Ball State University’s One Ball State Day campaign had a custom event to engage students and help spread the word on social media. Students were encouraged to find a Charlie Cardinal plush on campus for a chance to win $250 to the fund of their choice.  

Ball State University One Ball State "I Spy Charlie" campaign.

Image: Ball State created a buzz on campus with a hidden mascot plush hunt that awarded the finder a chance to make a grant to an area of passion on campus.

Alpha Sigma Alpha’s Joyously Give campaign capitalized on pop culture by hosting a Kelce vs. Kelce Challenge. Donors were asked to vote for their favorite Kelce brother to unlock a $250 gift to the winning Kelce fanbase.

Alpha Sigma Alpha Kelce v. Kelce Challenge to win a gift

Virginia Tech’s Giving Day campaign featured a social media challenge where the best photo shared would be randomly selected to award their favorite Virginia Tech fund a $1,000 bonus gift. 

Virginia Tech Giving Day Decades Challenge

The Ole Miss Giving Day incentivized their donors to not just make a one-time gift on giving day, but to sign-up for recurring giving and those donors would receive a special lapel pin as a thank you. 

Ole Miss Giving Day option to make gifts recur monthly.

Image: Ole Miss offered a special pin to encourage monthly giving.

Butler University hosted a unique Irwin Library Foundation Challenge on Butler Day of Giving. If Butler Libraries received 50 gifts across the Day of Giving 2024, they would host an event at Irwin ahead of Commencement Weekend in May where seniors can have their graduation photos taken in the Irwin fountain (something they normally would discourage). Watch Dean of Libraries Josh Petrusa’s humble request.  

Butler University Irwin Library Fountain Challenge

Image: What’s more exciting than a chance to ‘break the rules’ and take your graduation photo in the library fountain?

New RNL ScaleFunder features add gamification excitement to giving days 

We are constantly making updates to the platform to improve the donor experience and make running your giving day easier. The RNL ScaleFunder platform recently added new enhancements to Giving Day events:

Ready for a record-breaking giving day?

RNL Giving Day Powered by ScaleFunder combines the most powerful giving day platform with strategic assessments, omnichannel marketing, and stewardship to make your giving day a major success and increase future giving.

RNL Giving Day Powered by ScaleFunder

Giving day challenges pages: Challenge pages can customize their header link, banner image, mobile banner image, title, and description.

Mass completion of unmet matches and challenges: Not every challenge hits its goal, and that’s okay. If you have a match or challenge that was not met but the donor still wants the full dollar amount added to your giving day, our new mass complete unmet matches and challenges feature allows you to add those totals to your giving day in seconds. This is incredibly helpful for complex giving days with numerous challenges.

Challenge status: Keeping track of your gamification is crucial. Behind the scenes, our new “Event Status” column allows you to see these status levels of the matches and challenges and which ones you need to mass complete:

  • Success – The event met its goal.
  • In Progress – The event is live.
  • Ended – The event has ended.
  • Auto-Completed – The event was completed using the auto-complete feature.
  • Unmet – The event has not met its goal.

Building giving day excitement is a team effort

I hope this tour of great gamification and new features has given you some new ideas on how to innovate your giving day. Getting help from an experienced team who gets to see what your peers are doing can be a great benefit. That’s one reason I love being part of the RNL ScaleFunder consultant team, who are a part of every partner’s investment in the platform. We like to say that we offer “a platform and people” to help you meet your giving day goals.

If you’re ready to try out some new ways to excite your audience and build a better donor experience, request a demo. We’re ready to show you how you can make your giving day more interactive, fun and engaging.

About the Author

David provides strategic leadership for RNL digital giving partners, maximizing their success with crowdfunding, giving days, and our digital giving solutions. David provides support for RNL Digital Giving powered by ScaleFunder, including giving days and...

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