Success Story: Darlington School raised over $61k through independent school Giving Day on Givebutter

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Success Story: Darlington School raised over $61k through independent school Giving Day on Givebutter

In this video, I’m joined by Julia from Darlington School. If you’ve ever thought about hosting a Giving Day, but you’re not sure where to start—class is now in session! Julia shares how they raised over $61k in 24 hours to bring smiles to 854+ teachers and students. Learn how they did all this and more, as Julia shares:

  • What made them turn to Givebutter for their virtual fundraiser (Hint: Accept Venmo!)
  • How to boost your Giving Day campaign across social media and through email
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for mobilizing team fundraisers for your cause
“Givebutter was new to us. We had never heard of it, and we were recommended by one of our top volunteers to check it out. We talked with Max and decided to just go for it, especially being able to offer Venmo and PayPal which our donors have asked for for years and years and years. Being able to say, “Okay, here it is!” was a huge plus… Max and all the team were just so accessible and easy to work with. If you've got questions, ask them. [The Givebutter team] was so helpful.”

This Success Story is a true class act. See for yourself!

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Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story. Today, we are featuring Darlington School. They raised over $61,000 for their giving day to support its teachers and students. If you are looking for a giving day campaign example on Givebutter—finally—this one is for you. I have Julia here with me who is going to share why they turned to Givebutter as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned along the way. Julia, thank you so much for joining and sharing your success with the entire Givebutter Fam.

Julia: Absolutely. Thanks for having me! Thrilled to be here.

Rachel: Excited to dive in. Why don't we start with having you introduce yourself and a little bit more about your school.

Julia: My name is Julia Thomas. I am the Director of Annual Giving at Darlington School. We are a pre-K—12 day and boarding, high school boarding only, in Northwest Georgia outside of Atlanta. We kind of range the gamut from pre-K—8 day and then upper day and boarding.

Rachel: Beautiful. How did you get connected with the school? Are you alumni or from the area? What's your connection with Darlington School?

Julia: I'm actually an alum from 2007 and my mom also worked in the advancement office, so I’m very familiar with the school and the office I now work in.

Rachel: Yeah, how special! That’s awesome. I already mentioned that you had this incredible giving day: break it down for us. Is this a day that you always hold in February? Is this one that you always do online? Did you have to pivot and make it totally different this year? Walk us through the process of when it got started and what it turned into very recently.

Julia: We have never done a one-day giving day before, so this was our first. We have used a similar platform and done a two-week campaign that was mildly successful, but we wanted to switch to just a giving day. We tossed that around for a couple of years—just when, how, what do we want to do—and decided, especially after COVID, we just needed to push forward and picked a day in February. It's actually the birthday of our founders. J.J. Darlington actually is who we are named for. He did not found the school, but it was his 172nd birthday. We just stuck with that date and went with it.

Rachel: That's so fun. How was that transition for you? It's the first time you're doing it. It's a one day event and one day events—man, are they a lot of work! What was that prep like for you and your team?

Julia: Once we decided to move forward and landed on Givebutter, we started all of our planning meetings, started putting our timeline together, and checking the boxes of what we needed to get done, what we wanted to feature, how we wanted to lead up and thank our donors afterwards. Lots of planning and prep and just ripping the bandaid off and going go for it.

Rachel: I'm going to go ahead and share my screen here, so people can see your beautiful campaign and all that hard work. I just smiled when I looked at your campaign. I don't know this person. I don't have that personal connection, but even being removed, I just thought it was so clever and fun. All of it is just so beautifully written and designed. How did you conceptualize your theme for the day?

Julia: We had tossed around several different things. We want to highlight our students and teachers who are working above and beyond every day, especially being in school in a pandemic. We want to make sure we're highlighting the ease of giving for our young donors that we wanted to bring into the fold. Just kind of finding the balance between those two things. Our little sticker there is Sam Moss. He is our Dean of College Guidance. He is a graduate of our school from 1963 and has worked here since the 80’s. Parents, alumni, parents of alumni—a lot of generations know him very well. We wanted to kind of have him as our special little, I guess, mascot of the day. Something to give people that they'll appreciate and recognize across all the ages.

Rachel: I love that. It's so clever. What was your outreach like? I saw that you had linked on your campaign page your Facebook page—which I can share with people—was super well done in terms of how you linked it to Givebutter. Everybody who's watching, when you click this campaign page, be sure to also click location. This was so interesting to me, and I'd love to hear your thought process on that. I see that you have a peer-to-peer format. Were there other strategies for how you were going to raise the funds?

Julia: We did kind of a combination of everything. We started with our volunteer and leadership groups, reaching out to them and getting their feedback. Also, telling them how we needed them to support. We needed them to sign up to be a team member and push it on their social media and email it to their friends and their peers. Really encouraged them to make their gifts and share it and get others to give. Then, we also have an internal communications team. They did all the design for all these fun videos and stickers you see. They really pushed it on our social media platforms and helped us design any emails we sent out from our database and also created the Facebook event. We also boosted on social media as well.

Rachel: Okay, so you used some ads as well on there.

Julia: Yes.

Rachel: Yes. Okay. This is so helpful to know the secret behind your success. Any other tips, tricks, or lessons learned since this was your first time really using Givebutter and doing a giving day? Anything that you look back and think, “This is good to know,” or “We’re glad we learned this or tried this—this helped us be successful.”

Julia: I think all of it. Givebutter was new to us. We had never heard of it, and we were recommended by one of our top volunteers to check it out. We talked with Max and decided to just go for it, especially being able to offer Venmo and PayPal which our donors have asked for for years and years and years. Being able to say, “Okay, here it is!” was a huge plus. Then just going all in on the email and the social media. The multi-faceted approach was huge.

Rachel: Absolutely. Anything about using the platform in particular that you learned that was helpful?

Julia: We had a couple test gifts come through, which I think was just super helpful, just to make sure we were familiar with the platform and the dashboard as a team. We also all signed up as team members to share and see what it looked like. I think any type of testing you do. We had one issue where we were asking people to give $19.05 and we needed to see how that looked and get that set up. Max and all the team were just so accessible and easy to work with. If you've got questions, ask them. Y'all were so helpful.

Rachel: Oh, I'm so happy to hear that. Great tip! Test. Don't be shy about getting support from the Givebutter team. I am wondering, to close here, what would be your word of advice or any wisdom that you have for other giving day fundraisers who are using Givebutter? Maybe it's their first time too. What would be your word of advice for them?

Julia: Have fun with it. That's another thing we wanted to do was just to bring some fun to our Darlington Fund. We can be very formal and very traditional in what we say to our alumni and our other donors, so we wanted to have that aspect of fun and just go for it. We really just kind of winged it and made it all come together and just pushed forward and went as far as we could go and it was a huge success.

Rachel: Absolutely. And I can see that your supporters had fun with it. Your supporter feed was also something that just made me smile.

Julia: It was awesome! We were not expecting that. The fact that you could add photos, and people had their fun team pictures from the 80’s or the GIFs of the tigers. It was very cool to watch all of those come in and share it with everybody on campus.

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. Having fun is contagious, right? Your supporters could tell you were having fun and they just wanted to join in it.

Julia: Absolutely.

Rachel: Yeah, it goes so far. That's a great word of advice. Julia, thank you so much for joining and sharing your success with us today and thank you for using the Givebutter platform.

Julia: Absolutely. Thank you so much!

Rachel: For everybody else who’s following along, thank you for joining us and watching. Please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel. We will see you next week for another Success Story. Until then, happy fundraising!

View campaign: Giving Day at Darlington School

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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.