Here in Charleston, SC, we call this day Lowcountry Giving Day. According to the Coastal Community Foundation, who facilitates Charleston’s event, last year’s Lowcountry Giving Day raised $4,003,951.62 from 7,166 individuals for 93 participating nonprofits. This was the highest amount collected in 24 hours of giving in similar challenges among all 50 states!
Recently, I have read many blogs and comments about what individuals can do to support organizations on May 5th. Truth be told, there’s been a lot of great advice! I’ve found that the most frequent words of advice focus on giving to your favorite organizations, and I could not agree more. However, this tip always presents the donor with the dilemma of how to choose. Of the 93 nonprofits that participated in the 2014 Lowcountry Giving Day, every organization was worthy of support. So, this got me thinking – with hundreds of worthy organizations asking for gifts, what are some strategies that nonprofits can employ this year to raise more money? Here are my top five strategies top help nonprofits answer that question:
1. Find a donor (or several) to provide a challenge gift. Donors love to be inspired. After all, giving is an emotional act. If you can find a donor—or a group of donors—willing to match dollar for dollar every gift you get on May 5th, imagine how inspiring this would be—for all of your donors.
Let’s say you find five donors who are willing to each commit $5,000 for a total of $25,000—matching every dollar raised by your supporters on this day. Donors love it even more when every dollar they give is doubled by other people who are passionate about your organization. Truly inspiring!
2. Prepare your donors (and prospects) to give, and inspire them to give BIG! If you haven’t already been prepping your donors to make a gift on this day, get busy! Remember, donors love to be inspired, and nonprofits can provide a lot of inspiration. Now is the time to ramp up communication with your donors, sharing mission success stories and personal testimonials from other donors who have seen their dollars make a difference. You should be reminding your donors (and prospects) about the difference their gifts will make in fulfilling your mission.
It’s also really important for your donors understand the rules about how to give on this day. For example, in order for a gift to count in Lowcountry Giving Day, it must be at least $25. What if a donor can’t give that much? Do your donors know they can pool their gifts and make one donation? They should. Be sure your donors understand the ins and outs of your Giving Day guidelines. Your donors will thank you—through giving!
3. If you’re hosting an event it should only be for recognition and stewardship. I bet many people will disagree with this, but hear me out… You are competing (albeit friendly competition) with hundreds of other worthy organizations, but you’re also competing with Cinco de Mayo (it’s the same day!) and a work day. Let’s face it, we all have a lot going on. So, don’t expect donors to make the time to come to an event to make a gift. I have also heard donors complain about their donations being spent on hosting events.
If you’re going to host an event, make it a celebration and stewardship event. Also, get a sponsor so that your charitable dollars are not paying for snacks. Invite every donor to your event, and celebrate your success with them. Make sure your board and other volunteers are there to thank your donors, and remember—donors want more than anything to know that their gift is being used responsibly to further your mission. Use your event to reinforce this message.
4. Use social media to get your donors excited – but don’t rely solely on social media. Some days I feel like I might scream if I get one more tweet, Facebook status update, LinkedIn post, Instagram photo….it can be exhausting. And, I generally advocate for using social media sparingly when it comes to donor interactions. But, this day is different.
Use social media to remind your donors that it’s a special day. Don’t just fill your posts with reminders about making a gift. Instead, inspire them with stories about how philanthropic giving has impacted your mission. Thank donors who continue to make a difference. And, of course, excite donors about what their gift can do to transform the world through your mission. Social media can be an incredible tool to excite donors before they give, share the day’s successes with your donors, and thank donors for believing in your mission.
But again, don’t just rely on social media. Last year, the Executive Director of a nonprofit stopped by our office on Lowcountry Giving Day just to say thanks to the employees who made a gift that day. By far, this inspired me the most! Imagine the impact you could have on donors by showing up on this day to say thank you. It is truly inspiring!
5. Don’t stop inspiring donors after Giving Day. Stewardship starts right now! Giving Day provides an incredible opportunity to engage new and current donors. Don’t let them down! Authentic appreciation is the key to keeping your new—and current—donors engaged.
I’ve said it before – three out of four new donors never make a second gift. You must have a strategy to engage these donors and inspire them to give again. And, it’s important that you’re thinking about stewardship now – do not wait until after May 5th to start planning. If you want to keep these donors engaged, it has to start the moment they make their first gift. Need help creating your stewardship strategy? Give me a shout. We can help!
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