RNL’s Giving Day Awards for 2023: “The Giveys” Spotlight Great Donor Engagement

Brian GaworVice President of ResearchMay 4, 2023

The entire RNL ScaleFunder team contributed to this blog and chose the Givey Winners

Award image for the RNL Giveys awards for best higher education giving days

Last month, we launched a new set of awards at RNL to honor the creativity, innovation, and collaboration of RNL partners on the ScaleFunder Giving Day platform. The awards looked at key components of great giving days in 12 months prior to mid-April 2023. We revealed the winners in a webinar with commentary on what we thought was great.

We’re excited to share the winners. But let’s also share a couple of caveats. First, calling any giving day “the best” is silly—there are way to many great giving days to do that. And each organization crafts strategy specific to their audience and key goals. So, please realize how impossible it was for us to even make these choices. Instead take them in the spirit of providing some “awesome” examples that can spark your team’s creativity for your next big day.

Every organization that surprises and excited donors with the massive undertaking of a giving day is a winner. Here are some great examples and what we think they’ve been awesome for in the past year. You can download all the great examples here.

Successful giving days excite donors with a theme that inspires action

Northern Arizona University’s giving day branding encouraged Lumberjacks to give out #axeofkindness
Northern Arizona University’s giving day branding encouraged #axeofkindness

The story you tell with your giving day is a key component of success. The time and energy you put into the “why” of giving is crucial, as well as the design and feel of the experience. That’s why the RNL ScaleFunder platform is customizable to your unique feel. The Givey awards in areas of maximizing donor excitement with a great story went to:

  • Awesome Giving Day Theme: Northern Arizona University
  • Awesome New RNL Giving Day Partners: University of Missouri and California State University, Northridge

NAU crushed their Giving Day branding, featuring it on everything like hats, t-shirts, signs, and pom poms. The Lumberjacks mascot encouraged #axeofkindness in giving to a cause of the donor’s choice. They sent out a Jacks Pack, which was a swag box filled with a ‘We are Lumberjacks’ sign, an NAU Giving Day hat, a pom pom, and sticker to 500 of their loyal Giving Day donors.

Mizzou and CSUN were new to the RNL ScaleFunder platform this year. Mizzou’s incredible team effort crossed over $5 million with a data-driven, full-community effort. And CSUN had been crushing it in crowdfunding for years, taking the urgency strategy to the next level with the 2022 giving day for a “Brighter Tomorrow.”

Reaching out to donors across channels, with peer volunteers and through sustaining giving is key to giving day success

It takes numerous channels, like direct mail, email, calling, texting, video messages, social media and digital ads to boost a giving day. And you want to do all of it with engaged volunteers. We were excited to give these awards for great giving day omnichannel, social, and sustainer giving:

West Virginia University postcard mailing showing a WVU-themed bowtie for their giving day.

West Virginia University supporters got the chance to be like legendary higher education leader E. Gordon Gee with this awesome postcard mailing, and win a gift for their area of passion.

There’s not enough space to go through every part of these top-notch programs here, but we’ll call out WVU as an example. The coordination of channels with an incredibly compelling theme was crucial to their giving day success. And who doesn’t love the opportunity to cut out and don the bow tie of one of America’s most beloved university presidents?

Find out more about these great RNL partners: download the full Giving Day “Givey” awards slides and hear the RNL experts team commentary in the recorded webinar.

Challenges, matches and competitions make giving days exciting for donors of all backgrounds

  • Awesome Giving Day Gamification: University of Sioux Falls and the University of California, Berkeley

The University of Sioux Falls encourages overnight sight traffic with a challenge that unlocks a singing medly from campus superstars. Each year, when the challenge has been met, the Sioux Falls team emails out a link for a hilarious YouTube parody video to all donors who have contributed to the giving day so far.

UC Berkeley has been a leader for years with matches, challenges, and competitions, with nearly 100 as part of their 2023 effort that fueled over $12M and has doubled donors over the past 5 years to over 16,500.

The next generation of givers are ready to be engaged on your giving day through student programs

  • Awesome Giving Day Student Engagement: Emory University, Drake University, University at Buffalo, University of New Mexico, DePaul University

We spotlighted Drake, UNM, Buffalo and DePaul in a recent blog, and their efforts to engage students in giving and philanthropic culture are incredible.

For the Givey Awards we also added Emory, where more than 1,500 student donors participated in the fall 2022 giving day. Top of the leaderboard? Gender Expansive and Women’s Ultimate Frisbee, showing that inclusive and purposeful donor engagement is a key part of the future for giving days. Emory continues to lead with innovative donor engagement, and we’re proud to be a partner.

Live events are growing in popularity, make giving days exciting, and involve key community members

  • Awesome Giving Day On-Campus Event: UNLV
  • Awesome Giving Day Virtual Event: DePaul University

The “Pie on the Pida” event at UNLV celebrated Rebels give with food, a photo booth, DJ, and everyone who gave had a chance to throw a pie in the face of campus leaders.

UNLV's Pie on the Pida for their Rebels Give giving day

Participate in UNLV’s Pie on the Pida for Rebels Give and you’ll see a “mess” of giving.

And DePaul’s live stream, BDC live! has everything from campus celebrity features to art demonstrations to social media shoutouts and tours. Donors have a chance to share why they give, students talk about the impact scholarship support has on their educational experience, and faculty members share how important program support is. Both of these creative programs show that giving done well is participatory and it shows in their record-breaking results.

Giving days are expanding to all types of charitable organizations

As giving days have evolved, we’ve seen them expand outside of higher education to healthcare systems, social good charities, environmental organizations, and fraternities and sororities. We had two partners that caught our attention in the Greek world this year, so, we’re happy to award:

  • Awesome Giving Day Greek Organizations: Alpha Gamma Delta Foundation and Kappa Sigma Fraternity

AGD saw 80% growth in gifts as sisters come together to give socially with high impact this year. Kappa Sigma saw 90% of dollars raised online, with over $378k raised via RNL’s digital wallet with Braintree.

Everyone who creates an engaging, inclusive and exciting giving day is a winner

2023 Giveys Awards for best giving day achievements

Congratulations to all the RNL “Givey” winners. And to repeat, we could have given hundreds of these awards, with how creative everyone using the ScaleFunder platform have been. Congratulations to the RNL partner family for another record-setting year of Giving Days, and thanks to all the generous donors who made it all possible.

Are you ready to take your giving day to the next level? RNL offers a full suite of platforms and people with the passion to help your team succeed. Contact us today for a demo and a review of the key tactics that can make your special day stand out and break records next year.

About the Author

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 25 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

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