Advice from the GAgives vets: Further highlights from the kickoff event

October 04, 2018
| by Editor |

On Aug. 17, GCN celebrated the beginning of GAgives on #GivingTuesday planning season with our annual kickoff event, where two panels of GAgives Day power-campaigners shared their tactics for achieving success through their #GivingTuesday campaign – however they defined it. Here are some of the top takeaways from their discussion, as stated by the panelists and re-stated by some of the nonprofit professionals in attendance. (Quotes lightly edited for clarity and continuity).

From the attendees:

I love the idea that your goal is your theme, and that you can leverage a bold goal even if you don’t come close to making it!
– Wula Dawson, Director of Development Communications at Feminist Women’s Health Center

The impact of the collective power, enthusiasm, and overall benefit of “doing it together.”
– Jean Yontz, Executive Director of Phoenix Pass

Keep your campaign authentic and have fun telling your story, and donors will be able to see that.
– Emma Loniewski, Program and Events Coordinator at Keep North Fulton Beautiful

Online giving is the “gateway” for the younger generation of donors. Also: There’s no such thing as donor fatigue in the digital world. It takes 20-30 touches before you get a gift, not the 7-8 we were taught.
– Regina Gore, Development Director at Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier

Two great takeaways that are helping us: The concept of focusing the day toward a particular segment of our audience, and going back and again check our thank-you message to donors. We want to ensure that this message is compelling!

– Nancy Davis, Director of Advancement at The Howard School

Using GAgives on #GivingTuesday to build stronger public interest that can lead to maximized engagement, beyond the one-time gift. Also: How success can be increased by utilizing the skills of those “who can and will,” versus attempting to employ an entire constituent group – board, volunteers, staff, etc.
– Bea Perdue, Corporate and Foundations Relations Manager at Atlanta Habitat for Humanity

Make your donors the heroes of GAgives Day!
– James Osanyinbi, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the Georgia Leadership Institute for Student Improvement (GLISI)

From the panelists:

On preparing supporters

Megan Rock, Executive Director of Girl Talk: We come up with the “creative” in advance, and then we produce toolkits specific to those using them – our board, our partners, our chapters. The toolkit philosophy is to make campaigning as easy as possible: They have to be able to copy-and-paste the material, otherwise you don’t know what you’ll get. Toolkits include everything from pictures and video testimonials to email templates to instructions for using the Facebook frame that says, “I donated.” We write out the message you should use before #GivingTuesday, on #GivingTuesday, and after you donated.

Melissa Brogdon, Director of Development and Communications at Emmaus House: Because we also have a big Thanksgiving campaign, we commission #GivingTuesday as a donor acquisition program. We use our board members to invite new folks into the fold, so our planning is about getting board members excited to do one more act for us.

Regarding toolkits, they should also include some frequently asked questions – anything that you think might come up when your supporters are out campaigning for the organization. The last thing you want your people to say is that they don’t have the answer to a question.

Lee Ann Else, Development Director at HealthMPowers: We start planning early, focusing on motivating staff and board. For example, we use the #UNselfie contest as a team-building activity: We have a staff meeting every other Monday where we set up a photo booth, and we have a lot of fun with that. On the Monday before #GivingTuesday, we hold a “minute to win it” party, where we break the staff into teams and spend the day spreading the word and creating excitement for the big day. It really creates something beyond the campaign – it’s something for our team.

On matching gifts

Grace Murphy, Director of Development at Canine Assistants: We work with not just one foundation or donor, but with multiple donors to see if they can increase their gifts just a little bit to help us incentivize giving from others. With that strategy, we’re able to match typically up to $50,000.

Rock: We partner with a local family foundation that generally gives their gift at the end of the year, so now they time it with #GivingTuesday to match what people give. That creates a sense of urgency. We also get a lot of in-kind donations from various partners, and we’ve been able to use some of those items to encourage outreach. For instance, if you refer two friends who donate, you get a prize.

Else: We use one of the Power Hours as our match. We have been focused on that strategy for two years in a row, and won our target hour both times. Anyone on our board who hasn’t met their annual gift commitment for the year will be giving on that day, which also helps us during the power hours – we let them know in advance when to give.

On keeping the momentum going

Murphy: We do a lot of thank-yous. We get some of our local canine recipients together and have them send out personal, hand-written thank-yous – which is motivating, especially for newer donors, to give again. We also do a video each year of recipients: They send in clips of themselves with their dogs simply saying thank-you, and we put them all together. It’s super easy, and we can also add announcements for what’s coming up in the holiday season.

Brogdon: We try to make the board members feel appreciated: We put them in the newsletter and put in thank-you calls. I clear my schedule on #GivingTuesday so I can just monitor the internet, and when a board member gets their first donation I’ll shoot them a quick email: “Oh my god, you’re rocking it.” Thanking your workers also helps make sure you won’t have lost them as a resource next year.



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