Unleash generosity: How to launch an amazing giving day in 5 steps

Written by
Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

Unleash generosity: How to launch an amazing giving day in 5 steps

When you hear the phrase “giving day,” you may automatically think of Giving Tuesday, the billion-dollar global giving phenomenon that takes place the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving every year. 

As we’ve written about before, Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to gain visibility and raise money. The popular fundraising event, hosted in the heart of the holiday season, creates a burst of year-end generosity, inspiring givers to open their wallets and volunteer their time for your cause. 

But there’s a catch. Participating nonprofits and businesses run the risk of getting drowned out by all the other causes and organizations competing for support in the same 24-hour span. 

The alternative? Launch your organization’s own powerful giving day! In this article, we’ll break down what a giving day is, why it works, and how to start your own. We’ll also feature a giving day campaign example to get your creative wheels turning. 

What is a giving day?

Christmas Gifts GIF By Kohl's

In a nutshell, a giving day (or day of giving) is a 24-hour fundraising campaign. Fundraisers use them for two main reasons: First, to collect as many donations as possible within the limited timeframe. And second, to grab the metaphorical megaphone for the day and create widespread awareness of their cause.

Giving days are a favorite of nonprofits, businesses, community foundations, universities, hospitals, athletics programs, and they’re even being used by entire states and cities to raise funds, such as New York City’s #NYGivesDay.

Why it works

So, why are giving days so effective? After all, people can donate to your organization any day of the year, through any of your many fundraising campaigns, right? 

While this is technically true, a giving day isn’t just any old fundraising tool. There are several unique, compelling factors that inspire supporters to participate in larger numbers than usual. Consider this: 

  • 🔥 Your campaign has a built-in sense of urgency: Giving days are typically 24-hour events, and that ticking clock has been proven to motivate people to donate. (Plus, if your donations are being matched, people will want to maximize their impact while extra funds are on the table.)
  • 🔍 You aren’t competing for attention: What’s better than having all eyes are on your cause? A giving day is the perfect opportunity to proudly tell your story, reconnect with your supporters, and reach entirely new audiences — without shouting over other causes.
  • 📅 Your team concentrates on one day: Fundraising teams are pulled in multiple directions all year long. A single-day campaign lets you set straightforward goals and laser-focus your efforts.
  • 👐 Your donor base feels united: People love feeling like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, and a giving day creates that unifying atmosphere. Instead of donating through a one-off bake sale or movie night, they can give on a day that’s significant and meaningful for their entire community. 

Whatever your reason for hosting a day like this, the end result is the same: an annual giving day that gets your supporters invested in your organization’s future. Learn how to bring this special event to life in the next section. 

Launch your own giving day with these 5 key steps

Sts-135 launch GIF by The NGB

Follow this step-by-step guide to create a giving day to remember. We’ll walk through timing, goal-setting, branding and messaging, promotion, and campaign follow-up. Let’s go!

1.  Start planning early💡 

Planning makes perfect (or as close as you can realistically get)! Ideally, you should start holding any necessary meetings and brainstorming sessions at least six months before your giving day. As an example, it’s not uncommon for organizations participating in #GivingTuesday, usually held the first week of December, to start planning in July or August. 

Early preparation is a gift to your future team.

You want as much time as possible to hammer out your campaign goals, estimate your budget, think of activities, size up your required resources, prepare marketing materials, and get in touch with sponsors, vendors, and volunteers.

2. Assemble your team 👊

Who’s leading your giving day charge? Whether you’re a well-staffed nonprofit organization, PTA group, or a brand-new startup, you need a team that will see you from planning to execution to evaluation.

Identify individuals who are passionate, committed, and organized, gather them into a giving day committee, and list out responsibilities and expectations. Who’s responsible for posting on social media? Answering FAQs? Reporting results?

If you need some extra humanpower, look no further than your base of donors and volunteers. You can recruit your supporters to become amazing, effective peer fundraisers for your campaign.

3. Set clear-cut goals 📈

If this is your very first giving day, your major campaign goals will be educated guesses. That doesn’t mean they have to be vague or lackluster! Set SMART goals, or goals that are one that’s specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Here are some quick examples: 

  • Raise $100,000 on or by October 25 to fund a new cancer research study by our university. 
  • Get 250 new donors to sign up for our recurring donation program by July 1. 
  • Add 300 subscribers to our biweekly e-newsletter during the week of our giving day. 

The idea is to set a goal that’s ambitious enough to get your team and followers excited, but realistic enough to get the job done. 

4. Craft strong giving day messaging 💥

One thing we’ve consistently noticed with successful giving days is that they have a clear-cut theme, fantastic storytelling, and cohesive marketing efforts. Darlington School’s first-ever giving day is one great example. Their team raised over $61,824 in 24 hours with a few unique and refreshing ideas and a lot of passion.

giving day: Darlington Fund thank you banner

First, they made their donation request meaningful by asking for $19.05, inspired by the year the school was funded. Second, they put a face to their cause using short, engaging videos — one of the most powerful fundraising tools. Teachers, students, and administrators each shared what they could do with $19.05 toward their school. Finally, they publicized a clear, concrete goal to reach 300 donors, earning buy-in from the entire community.

The takeaway?

Be thoughtful and intentional with your outreach strategy and you’ll see results. 

5. Grab the right tech tools 💻

Giving days are short campaigns with big potential, and the last thing your team needs is to be limited by a lack of communications tools or payment options. Make sure you choose a fundraising platform that offers: 

  • Customizable, mobile-ready fundraising pages 
  • A quick and easy donation process
  • Multiple messaging and sharing options
  • Popular payment methods 
  • Automated receipts and thank-you notes
  • Fundraising leaderboards and goal thermometers 
  • Helpful reports to measure campaign success

We’ll save you some research time: Givebutter is a free fundraising platform with over 70+ powerful features that let you collect donations, sell tickets, and create beautiful fundraising pages in minutes. It’s how nonprofits like Soaring Spirits International and for-profits like 6AM City launched their game-changing giving days and secured critical funding toward their missions. 

See it for yourself — create your free Givebutter account now.

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.