giving day

HOW TO Launch Ambassadors for Big Giving Day Success

This post originally appeared in the February 8th, NP Engage blog.

“What’s next?” is becoming a common question for digital fundraising strategists.

We’re hearing it about online giving days, about crowdfunding, about email – and now we’re starting to field the same question about peer-to-peer or online ambassador programs.

One of those organizations is the University of Minnesota. In 2016, they added an online ambassador program to their giving day and saw great results. Their ambassadors then helped to celebrate the public launch of Driven: The University of Minnesota’s Campaign in September 2017, aiming to raise $4 billion.

But then they asked, “What’s next?” The answer was a combination of a more sophisticated ambassador program and the launch of a new initiative around digital major donor engagement. These efforts led to the institution’s biggest ever online giving day and a robust volunteer opportunity for the University’s most fervent online advocates.

Give to the Max Day

In 2016, in preparation for the University of Minnesota’s giving day – held on Give to the Max Day, Minnesota’s statewide day of giving held every November – the digital fundraising team sought out social media users who demonstrated affinity for the institution. The digital team then engaged this organically-grown group of ambassadors and asked them to share content during Give to the Max Day.

The effort paid off. The U’s 2016 Give to the Max Day was a tremendous success, significantly outperforming their past giving days. And there is little doubt the early ambassador effort was a key contributor to the U of M’s success on Give to the Max Day.

In 2017, the University wanted to expand on the strong ambassador foundation built in 2016 for Give to the Max Day.

“On Give to the Max Day 2016 and for our Driven launch, we saw the power of U supporters helping share messages about the impact of giving, helping us trend in social media and drive an increase in traffic to our website,” said Robyn White, Associate Director of Digital Marketing at the U of M Foundation.

First, came a partnership with Groundwork Digital to craft a strategy for expanding the ambassador program.

Next, came technology. The University partnered with Blackbaud and used Attentive.ly to scan nearly 100,000 email addresses for those in the database who have a strong social media presence.

“This tool provided an efficient way to gain extra insight to which U supporters are publicly talking about us and have a great online network for sharing,” said White.

The results were powerful. The influencer scan of nearly 100,000 records returned influencer results on more than 40,000 individual social media users.

In addition to the technology and consulting firm, the same U of M Foundation staff person dedicated to the effort in 2016 took the lead on refining the ambassador list for the 2017 Give to the Max Day.

Digital marketing specialist Karina Carlson worked alongside the Groundwork team to implement an engagement plan to activate ambassadors throughout the fall and especially during Give to the Max Day, partnering with key constituent groups across the U system.

“It was fun to see our supporters celebrate the U in a more grassroots way,” said Carlson. “And to have a new way to engage passionate supporters on our biggest giving day of the year.”

The results speak for themselves – 109 individuals from the U of M’s “UMN Influencers” group were talking about Give to the Max Day on social media. This activity boosted the University’s total reach on Give to the Max Day to 174,119 social media users. That represented a +99.4 percent gain from 2016.

More importantly, the fundraising during the giving day saw a tremendous lift. In 2017, the final fundraising numbers were:

  • $1,436,000
  • 3,300+ donors

The 2016 numbers were:

  • $1,054,500
  • 2,900+ donors

Sophisticated technology coupled with an innovative strategy around their “UMN Influencers” helped the University of Minnesota achieve a roughly 36 percent boost in dollars and approximately 400 more donors from one giving day to the next.

Where to next?

In 2018 and beyond, the University of Minnesota will be focused on growing the ambassador program, Give to the Max Day, and digital fundraising overall – more involved management of ambassadors and major donor engagement.

For the ambassadors, having that authentic, personal touch appears to be increasingly critical. A more personal connection will grow between the staff person tasked with managing the volunteer “UMN Influencers” and the ambassadors themselves.

For major gifts, an enhanced digital major donor engagement strategy for the U of M’s Give to the Max Day is key. The University did enjoy some big major donor contributions during the 2017 Give to the Max Day. Donors gave gifts of $75,000 and $100,000 to support the effort while many more offered thousands of dollars for matching gifts.

While that activity is impressive, the U is excited about 2018 efforts as the new digital donor engagement strategy gains steam and Attentive.ly is used in partnership with the U’s digital marketing and prospect development teams. Beyond Give to the Max Day, the University will be pursuing targeted major gift crowdfunding campaigns and other personal fundraising efforts for the institution’s most capable supporters in 2018. Stay tuned for exciting results soon…

Groundwork Digital builds online ambassador programs. Click here to get in touch with us and learn more about how we can help you fundraise with volunteer social media influencers.

The Next Big "Giving Day"

Hundreds of millions of dollars raised … millions of donors taking part … scores of new supporters engaged … long-time supporters reinvigorated …

Online giving events such as #GivingTuesday and org-specific giving days have changed the face of fundraising.

Unfortunately, most fundraisers are leaving donors and dollars on the table during a giving day. The good news is, the experts at Groundwork Digital have the experience (more than four dozen giving days under our belts) to unlock those donors with proven tactics.

Equally as important, we can help integrate your giving day into a year-round digital fundraising effort that revolutionizes donor engagement for your program.

Raise your giving day to the next level with Groundwork Digital’s Giving Day Elevator package

The Giving Day Elevator package includes:

  • A full-day, on-site workshop to bring your team up to speed on the latest sure-fire tactics for launching an awe-inspiring giving day or #GivingTuesday event
  • Technology consultation to either select the right vendor or adjust your strategy to make the most out of your current online giving technology
  • Content marketing, email, and online ambassador strategic planning
  • Post-event analysis, peer benchmarking, and recommendations for the next 12 months of online fundraising

Groundwork currently offers this Giving Day Elevator package at the discounted price of $10,000. Click “Learn More” and give us you contact info. We'll get in touch to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to determine if Giving Day Elevator is right for your operation.

Giving Days, Major Donors, and Building a Culture of Philanthropy

At large institutions and organizations, the online giving day is a cacophony of activity. Annual giving, marketing, donor relations, the major gifts team, corporate relations... giving days are an all hands on deck extravaganza of fundraising activity.

When done well, that means a giving day can have far-reaching impacts on many aspects of a development operation. For the University of Idaho, during the school's first giving day in 2016, the reach of the giving day extended to major gifts, student giving, and across the advancement team as a lightning rod that stimulated team building.

In the video below, Stacy Rauch - Idaho's Associate Director of Development for Engineering - talks about how her team connected with major donors to secure challenges, engaged team members across campus, and led the communication blitz that led to big fundraising bucks.

Groundwork Digital's team members have built many giving days, like the one detailed in the video above. To find out how Groundwork can help you launch your first giving day or expand your current giving day, click the the button below to schedule a FREE giving day consultation. 

 

Get to Know Groundwork: Justin Ware

Justin Ware is the Co-Founder and President of Groundwork Digital.  A thought-leader in the nonprofit sector, Justin is a fundraising and content marketing expert.  Justin's work spans nonprofits, higher education, and media. In 2009, Justin was the executive producer on one of the first ever YouTube videos to win an Emmy. The "Science of Watchmen" video has been viewed nearly 2 million times and was also nominated for a Webby. Justin began his career in television before joining the University of Minnesota and then Bentz Whaley Flesser.  After BWF, Justin led digital fundraising strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz as well as Product Management for Annual Giving.  Justin has spoken at numerous conferences, and led consulting engagements for universities and nonprofits across the country.  In his spare time, Justin can be found rooting for the Minnesota Vikings and Gophers, skiing, hiking with his dog, and enjoying family time with his wife and two children.

Justin would love to talk digital fundraising from giving days to the major gifts program. Email him at justin@groundworkdigital.com.

Introducing Groundwork Digital

Welcome to Groundwork Digital! We are a strategic consultancy serving nonprofit organizations and institutions. We use digital (online, social media, and video primarily) to help your development operation:

Groundwork Digital Logo
  • Acquire new donors.
  • Retain current donors.
  • Rethink stewardship, especially of online-acquired donors.
  • Engage new, previously undiscovered segments of major donors.
  • Build a truly multi-channel approach to fundraising.

More than half the planet’s population is online. Two thirds of North America is active on social media. New donors are spending hours online everyday and waiting to be engaged on those platforms. Our firm is focused on strategies and technology that connects you to those future donors and engages them in a way that is meaningful (and data-backed).

For example, did you know online ambassadors can be more powerful for the major gift program than they are for the annual fund? Check out the video below with Co-Founder Justin Ware to see how:

When it comes to acquisition of new donors, giving days and crowdfunding have been the hottest new trends for many years now. And you can’t find a team with more giving day and crowdfunding program experience than Groundwork Digital.

But perhaps more importantly, how do you retain all these unique, first-time online donors? Our team is especially well equipped to help you answer these difficult retention questions as well. Have a look at the following video with Co-Founder Rosa Conrad for more on how we support modern stewardship:

Groundwork Digital’s team has:

  • Co-led the planning for more than three dozen online giving days.
  • Helped establish hundreds of crowdfunding projects.
  • Built more than a dozen successful online ambassador programs.
  • Worked with clients to produce major donor-engaging digital strategies that elevate cultivation, stewardship, and solicitation.

Keep your eyes open for more posts like this with tips and tactics on engaging donors at every level using modern media. To be sure you don’t miss any updates, follow us on…

And always feel free to email us at info@groundworkdigital.com.

We can’t wait to start brainstorming and reinventing philanthropy with you!