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10 Tips for Planning a Successful Day of Giving

Jun 2023 - READ IN 8 MINUTES

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A Beginners Guide to Planning a Giving Day 

As educational institutions continue to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of fundraising, Giving Days have proved to be a powerful tool to rally support and engage donors. A well-executed Giving Day can not only boost financial contributions but also strengthen the sense of community and philanthropic spirit among donors. 

Planning a successful Giving Day can be an intimidating undertaking for a school’s advancement team—whether you have a team of one or ten. Below, you’ll learn ten valuable tips to help you plan and execute a prosperous Giving Day. From setting clear objectives to leveraging technology, these insights will guide you in maximizing the impact of your fundraising and fostering a culture of giving within your institution. 

1. Start Planning Early

Start planning at least six months in advance. One of the key factors that will contribute to whether you hit your fundraising goals is how dedicated you are to the planning process. 

Don’t be afraid of too much detail. Establishing primary goals, specializing the messaging for affinity groups, and writing social media plans (even down to specific posts!) in advance will all help you knock your day out of the park. This kind of detail takes time, so the earlier you begin to prep, the more comprehensive your Giving Day plan can be. 

2. Set Measurable Goals

Set explicit goals so you can measure your results. Whether these goals are based on the number of gifts, the number of people who engage with your online Giving Day campaign page, or the dollars raised, make sure you know what you want to measure. 

Learn How to Create SMART Giving Day Goals

3. Rally Your Giving Day Team

Crowdfunding can be a lot of work, and having the people you need on your side as you plan, organize, and run your Day of Giving is essential to your success. Depending on the size of your school, you may have a large team dedicated to annual fundraising or you might be a team of one. Regardless of your team’s size, you can always benefit from additional help and leverage volunteers and peer advocacy to help pull off your Giving Day. 

Learn How to Engage Volunteers Year-Found

Regardless of your internal resources, you’ll want to create defined roles and responsibilities to streamline the planning process and ensure all bases are covered. 

Get tips for building out your Giving Day team.

4. Build a Timeline 

One of the crucial aspects of planning a successful Giving Day is creating a well-structured timeline. This will serve as a roadmap to guide you through the various tasks and ensure everything is executed smoothly. You’ll likely want to wait until you’ve determined your goals and assembled your team before ironing out your work plan. Identify key milestones around each of your goals and event tasks and begin building them into a timeline. Milestones could include launching the campaign, announcing challenges or matching gifts, and beginning stewardship after the last day of giving. 

Here are some additional tips for creating your Giving Day timeline: 

  • Determine task owners and responsibilities
  • Establish deadlines for milestones
  • Create a visual timeline to share with stakeholders
  • Monitor and adjust your timeline as needed

Having defined dates around your Giving Day planning will help you stay organized and navigate the complexities of planning a crowdfunding campaign. 

5. Select Your Engagement Methods

You’ll want to consider what specific strategies you’ll use to encourage participation in your Giving Day—both on the donor front and among your students and staff. Setting challenges adds an element of competition to your Giving Day. Offering matching fund opportunities also may inspire people to give by highlighting a potentially larger impact their gift could have. You may have a dedicated Matches and Challenges Officer who is responsible for developing challenges and securing matching funds from donors, foundations, or corporate sponsors. Using a platform like GC Social Fundraising allows you to implement multiple engagement strategies all within the same Giving Day campaign. Create custom leaderboards within your campaign and tailor matches and challenges to encourage recurring gifts. 

Explore Examples of Giving Day Challenges

6. Establish Your Budget

Establishing a comprehensive budget for your Giving Day is an important step in planning for your fundraising initiative. Estimate expenses including marketing, staff fees, technology costs, and incentives. You’ll want to prioritize investments based on your campaign goals. Be sure to plan for contingencies and unexpected expenses and build it into your budget. A well-planned budget demonstrates accountability to your stakeholders and sets you up for a successful Giving Day. 

7. Have a Crisis Action Plan

The web can be an unpredictable place. Preparing for unforeseen circumstances is vital to the success of your Giving Day. Develop a crisis action plan to address potential challenges that may arise during your campaign. Potential risks could include technical issues, negative publicity, unexpected events on campus or in the community, or team disputes. Establish clear communication channels and have a plan of action for various scenarios. 

8. Brand Your Messaging

It’s essential in the university environment to put your best branding foot forward. You’ll want to maintain a consistent messaging tone and voice that aligns with your university. Reflect on your school’s mission, values, and unique selling points in your messaging. Visual consistency is important too. Familiarize yourself with any branding requirements so you can design cohesive campaign materials that use the school’s colors, fonts, and imagery. Consistency in branding builds trust with potential donors. Donors are more likely to engage with and support a campaign that demonstrates a clear connection to the schools they know and trust. 

9. Create a Communications Calendar

A communications calendar helps you stay organized, ensures consistent messaging, and maximizes engagement with your audience. Before creating your communications calendar, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Define your target audiences. Consider alumni, students, and faculty.
  • Determine what content you will share. These could include impact stories, donor spotlights, progress updates, and event announcements. 
  • Choose your communication channels. You might use a mix of social media, email newsletters, direct mail, text messages, and website updates.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you can set a schedule and assign specific dates and times for each communication activity in your calendar. A well planned communications calendar ensures that your Giving Day communications are timely, relevant and ultimately drive increased support of your fundraising efforts. 

Curious about adding texting to your communications mix? GC Texting offers a user-friendly and straightforward platform for incorporating SMS marketing into your school’s fundraising strategy. 

Check Out These Fundraising Text Message Examples

10. Know what Metrics you Need to Track

Having tools in place to track metrics for your Giving Day is essential. 

Online giving platforms like GiveCampus simplify your reporting and analytics processes so you can focus on fundraising, rather than setting up measurement tools. You’ll have access to easy-to-navigate metrics dashboards along with the ability to download customizable reports for specific campaigns. 

View a Sample Campaign Report

Here are some of the metrics you should track for your Day of Giving:

  • Total number of donors
  • Total amount raised (both per campaign or area of interest, and overall)
  • Total number of individual gifts
  • Recurring dollars gifts
  • Gift size distribution

In addition to tracking numbers around gifts and donors, you’ll also want to measure how donors interacted with your online campaign and who your donors were. This can help provide insights into what resonated with donors and any potential pain points to solve for next year. 

Look at the following metrics for your Giving Day campaign communications and page:

  • Donors by Age
  • Donors by Affiliation 
  • Gifts by Payment Methods
  • Gifts by Device Type
  • Form Conversion Rate

Tracking the right metrics not only helps you measure the success of this year’s Giving Day, but will help guide your future fundraising efforts and help you make educated decisions about your messaging and goal setting. 


By following the tips above and leveraging innovative technology, educational fundraisers can create impactful Giving Days that inspire generosity and strengthen community connections. Want to know how GiveCampus can help you execute a successful Giving Day? Speak with a fundraising expert to learn more about how our solutions can be used for all your fundraising needs. 

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