11 Steps to Planning a Giving Day

Posted on 11/02/2016

day-of-givingGiving Days have become increasingly common in just the past few years as a way to create awareness about the impact of philanthropy, engage donors and volunteers, and raise money. Columbia University, who was one of the first to hold such an event, just completed their fifth Giving Day last week. Today, 3 out of 4 educational institutions report that they have held or are planning to hold a Giving Day of their own.

Often fueled by bonus funds or a sense of competition, there are many different ways to structure and organize a Giving Day. Every institution is unique, so there is no single model for creating a successful event. And yet, one element does prove to be universally applicable: if you want to do it well, you need to plan it well.

Simply throwing a date on the calendar and expecting people to “show up” is not a recipe for success. It takes a lot of coordination, starting up to a full year in advance. Here’s a project timeline for you to reference and customize as you plan your own Giving Day:

  1. Conduct high level planning and benchmarking of Giving Days at other schools (11-12 months out)
  2. Get internal buy-in from senior leadership and key campus partners (9-10 months out)
  3. Identify your technology needs and select any necessary vendors (8-9 months out)
  4. Design challenges and secure donors as “underwriters” (6-7 months out)
  5. Develop a marketing plan and promotional materials (5 months out)
  6. Recruit volunteers and online ambassadors to help spread the word (4 months out)
  7. Communicate key information and timelines internally (3 months out)
  8. Launch the “silent phase” to give your VIPs the early inside scoop (2 months out)
  9. Make the first public announcement with an advertisement, postcard or email (1 month out)
  10. Begin to promote the day aggressively through email and social media (2 weeks out)
  11. Create a buzz, raise lots of money, and make sure everybody has fun! (0 days out)

If this seems like a lot of work… well, that’s because it is. But all of your efforts can pay off, and the benefits go beyond donors and dollars. Giving Days can also encourage collaboration across campus – or even within your own advancement shop – while offering the annual giving team a common sense of purpose and focus throughout the year.

To most, your event will seem to be about a single day. For you and your team, however, it will be the work leading up to the big day that really makes a difference.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s Webinar on Planning a Successful Giving Day.