Planning a Giving Day

This morning I was speaking with a former colleague about Giving Day, and thought I’d like to put together some things I’ve learned after surviving two of them. I didn’t play as part of the advancement team, but I participated as a cooperating stakeholder (marketing team). Based on my experiences, this is what I would say to anyone planning a Giving Day.

Plan Ahead

Giving Day isn’t just a day; Giving Day is a big campaign. It needs to fit in with your other campaigns, and it needs to complement the work you’re already doing. Your plan of attack will vary depending on when your Day falls in your calendar and fiscal year. For example, if it’s close to the beginning of the calendar year, you might not want to do a huge end-of-the-year push because people may not be prepared to make another gift so soon.

Clarify your incentives far in advance. If you plan to have matching gifts or prizes, lock those in as early as you can. This will help as you plan out your communications, work with other stakeholders, and try to keep your sanity. Scrambling the week of leads to confusion and annoyed partners—trust me, I’ve been the annoyed partner.

Get Your Timeline

Your timeline shouldn’t only be for Giving Day itself. Plan the communications you’ll send out prior to the Day to let people know what’s on the horizon and plan your follow up communications to the best of your ability. (You’re going to be worn out after Giving Day is done; the more work you can do in advance, the happier you will be later.)

Your timeline should include emails, web updates, social media updates, and any other media you’re including in your outreach. If you’re an overachiever—and you should be—prepare timelines or scripts for your cooperating stakeholders, too. They may edit what you write to be in the voice they use for communications, but they will be grateful that you provided them with something to work with.


And, that said, recruit the stakeholders you’ll need early in the planning process. Let them know what your plans are. Having the buy in long before your Giving Day arrives will help other teams prepare to work with you rather than try to rework their plans at the last minute to help you out. Teams you may want cooperating with you include the main marketing arm of your institution, your admissions team, and any other highly visible departments or offices with a big social presence.

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