Rethinking the Online Giving Day

Online giving days and events like #GivingTuesday are adding hundreds of millions of fundraising dollars to nonprofits every year. And this trend shows no signs of slowing any time soon.

So it makes sense that nonprofits would be feverishly trying to find the best, most significant dates in their calendars to launch an inaugural online giving day. Or maybe improve a long-standing giving day.

But maybe the organizational calendar is the wrong place to look for the right date for your giving day? Instead, shouldn't we be asking our donors - individually, in some cases - which date makes the most sense to them?

Have a look at this astonishing online-ambassador fundraising event conducted by Marquette University...

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The $1 million Challenge launched in 2016 when Marquette alumnus Lemonis offered up a $300,000 match to spur giving at all levels. Using his enormous social media clout, Lemonis led the charge in tandem with the Marquette development team to raise more than $1 million, including Lemonis' matching gift.

Lemonis and Marquette teamed up again in 2017, this time on a $1.5 million matching gift from Lemonis. The result? An additional $1.7 million raised in addition to Lemonis' match for a total of $3.2 million.

Major Donor Online Ambassadors

The key to successful campaigns like Marquette's giving challenges with Marcus Lemonis is in finding your online ambassadors who also have major gift capacity. And they are out there. Right now Groundwork Digital is combining influencer screening with wealth screening to single out the big-time social media users with the capacity to give transformational gifts.

But finding these large-gift-donor ambassadors is only part of the process. Next, work with gift officers and prospect development to enhance solicitation strategies with the newfound digital data on prospects. This step includes merging gift officer knowledge with donor info in the database plus the psychographic info pulled from the social listening data (the data that came about via the influencer scan).

The goal is uncovering digital campaign concepts that match important aspects of a major gift prospect or donor's life. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations - any life event could be leveraged to build an online campaign that has deep personal meaning to the donor or prospect. And that deep personal meaning translates into fervent online ambassador activity from the major gift donor or prospect.

This major-donor-centered digital campaign could be short and intense like a 24-hour giving day or it could be longer duration, like a crowdfunding campaign. Regardless of the specific parameters, building digital fundraising events around a personal milestone or cause of a major donor can both lead to new major gift prospects from the donor's network and a significant boost in small-gift giving in support of the campaign.

How to Build Digital Campaigns Around Major Donor Ambassadors

For a quick recap, here is how Groundwork Digital works with clients to develop major-donor-centered digital campaigns:

  1. Conduct a social media influence screening for your entire database of donors. (In addition to uncovering major donor ambassadors, you can use the larger group of annual fund influencers to build a comprehensive online ambassador program to assist fundraising and communications at all levels)
  2. Segment your influencers based on existing wealth data or conduct a wealth screening on the list of those with significant influence. (Klout scores of 50+, for example, would indicate significant influence)
  3. Meet with gift officers and prospect development to merge existing knowledge with new data from social media and online sources to create enhanced, hyper-targeted solicitation strategies.
  4. Leverage digital campaign opportunities as part of your ask to unlock big gifts from these digitally savvy donors.
 Innovative nonprofit Charity:water leverages personal events to build substantial online fundraising campaigns around celebrities and major donors.

Innovative nonprofit Charity:water leverages personal events to build substantial online fundraising campaigns around celebrities and major donors.

To be clear, the traditional online giving day is a tremendously effective fundraising and marketing tool for your organization. The exposure and excitement around broad-based giving days rapidly grow an nonprofit's culture of philanthropy adding new donors and enthusiasm to a development program. 

In addition to the traditional giving day model, consider expanding your digital fundraising by rethinking the giving day and adding a number of major-donor-ambassador-led campaigns throughout the calendar.

Are you interested in finding digitally active major donors and prospects and working with them to launch huge online campaigns in 2018? Groundwork Digital is helping multiple clients do exactly that right now. Click here to send us your email and we'll be in touch on how we can help your organization rethink the giving day in the new year and beyond.