Pardon the cheesy pun. This spring, giving days have taken over the annual giving scene. Some days this spring I have seen 7-10 University giving days on one day. Most donors don't see this because they're not fundraising nerds like me. So it has me thinking - What is your donor relations' department involvement with your giving day?
I believe that donor relations needs to partner fully to implement a strategic plan for all giving day donors, including what happens to them in the solicitation cycle after they give. My alma mater, the University of South Carolina, recently had its giving day and raised over $3 million in one day. I'm proud of them, I added an additional donation to support them that day and I also served as a social media ambassador spreading the word about why people should give. They were well organized and deployed volunteers well.
But even more impressive was their gratitude efforts that day. They had multiple thank you videos, postings and images to make donors feel motivated and grateful. Here are a few of my favorites:
In addition, they marked notable milestones with celebrity (thank you Darius Rucker) videos and kept the excitement going. They were prompt in their gratitude. I received multiple immediate thank yous via social and email, and after the day was over, we all received this amazing thank you video:
All in all a great day raising mucho money for deserving students. But what happens next?
Next, the following needs to happen:
Ensure you don't throw these newly acquired donors into your traditional solicitation channels of phone, direct mail, etc. - they never gave that way before why would you punish them this way? Respect their preference!!
Make sure you report back the impact of the money raised that day - maybe at a 3 month, 6 month mark etc. One of my favorites was when the University of Michigan used to send "we know what you did 6 months ago" emails updating me on the impact of my giving day gift.
Phone calls or hand written notes from recipients or students thanking donors for their generosity - within a WEEK - the sooner the better!!
Assess what went well and what didn't on your giving day - components donor relations should be thinking about at minimum for the DAY OF - immediate response to the online giving form - make it good and make it relevant - custom for the day
Personalized thank you video to every donor - You could use a fantastic platform like Thankview.
Collect, store, and utilize a donor's social media handles - Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat - send them a personal message of gratitude!
Milestone emails celebrating the donors - don't write, "WE raised $1M," instead talk about what the DONORS did for your organization.
Giving days can be powerful ways to acquire new donors and build momentum in the spring for your annual giving. But don't let the gimmick overtake the cause. Some of the things that work so well about giving days is that there is a sense of urgency, the appeals come from a peer or classmate, and there are many expressions of gratitude. You can help your annual giving teammates create magic - but remember, just like any event, when its over, our work is just beginning!!