What We Learned From Our First Giving Day

Peter Christian

Director, Campus Relations

August 15, 2019

This blog was co-written by Quinn McGourty-Holland.

Early in 2019, RNL decided to launch our very first giving day during the RNL National Conference — #RNLGives. Using our own giving day platform, we were able to partner with PENCIL, Nashville Public Education Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, three education-focused charities in the city of Nashville, where the conference was held. These three organizations were great partners and provided a compelling story for why our community should support them.

We were all moved by the response! Below we’ll talk about what we learned during our very first #RNLGives giving day event, and what we are looking forward to in 2020.

RNLGives 2019: our first giving day

The Power of Ambassadors

RNL knows the power of ambassadors and how important they are to a successful giving day. This rang true for #RNLGives as well, with 405 out of the 448 gifts and more than 50 percent of our dollars raised through our ambassadors during our first giving day.

This type of success is common for giving days and according to our most recent giving day index, the average online gift is 12 percent higher if generated through an ambassador link. We also know that the bulk of ambassador donations are usually generated by an extremely motivated, small group of influencers. On our giving day, we had 66 ambassadors and nearly 40 percent of our ambassador gifts were driven by two ambassadors. These two superstars generated 161 donations on their own by sharing links on social media, sending emails to their friend groups, and getting their local community involved. This success can be replicated with your giving day as well.

How can you harness ambassadors and have a great giving day? Ask for a demonstration of RNL Giving Day Powered by ScaleFunder.

Internal Engagement

We are lucky enough to have a senior leadership team at RNL who are laser-focused on our mission to serve the education community. When we presented this idea for our first giving day to them, they immediately asked how they could help.

Receiving this type of early buy-in isn’t always the case at every organization, but it is crucial for a successful giving day. Not only did it allow us to secure leadership donations for our first giving day to gamify our giving day via matches and challenges, but it legitimized the event for the rest of our organization.

From there, we drove the message home to internal staff about how vital these organizations are to the community of Nashville and that it was important for RNL to support groups that share our common goal. This helped us to gain support from people all across the company. For instance, our client program managers (one who generated 86 donations!!!) played a key role in spreading the message because they understood the purpose of what we were doing.

On your giving day, it’s important to drive internal engagement, whether it’s spending time with your university leadership team explaining the importance of giving day or incentivizing your entire advancement staff to get involved. A successful giving day starts on campus and spreads to your alumni and community, so get buy-in from the start.

Looking to Next Year

Our first giving day has come to an end and the donations are in, so now what?

This may be a 24-hour fundraising extravaganza, but the learning opportunities created by a giving day last throughout the year. Start by evaluating your results, from donor participation and feedback-to-communication channels and online presence. Spend some time analyzing the site data from your digital giving platform, and if you used a chatbot make sure to see what conversations were most common.

We stated in a previous post that all your departments and offices should be involved in preparing the event, and their input will be equally important in your post-giving day assessment. Understand the impact of all advancement channels, participating campus units, and any onsite events so that you know what worked or didn’t work. Come up with a few areas that need improvement and some big ideas that you’d like to try next year. Never be afraid to try something new and exciting to make your giving day stand out! After all, you will be fighting for your donors’ attention all year round, and a giving day is a great chance to break through. You can then utilize the momentum to refine and personalize your advancement efforts for the rest of the year.

Just like the rest of your giving efforts, giving days really take off when they use all of your channels. In our next post we’ll talk about the channels you should be utilizing on giving day and we’ll include some examples of what we see working best.

Make your giving day great with RNL!

RNL Gives

See how you can engage more donors, harness the power of ambassadors, and create a giving day experience that will inspire and energize your constituents. Ask for a demonstration of RNL Giving Day Powered by ScaleFunder.

About the Author

Peter Christian

Peter Christian offers wide ranging experience in fundraising and has helped support RNL clients around the globe. He’s currently part of RNL’s sales team and focuses primarily on RNL’s Digital Giving platforms. Prior to joining the...

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