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Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Giving Day

Giving Days—everyone has one, whether it's your own unique giving day or Giving Tuesday. Giving days can be a great way to acquire new donors and—when well-executed—retain loyal donors. Here are a few do's and don'ts to ensure a smooth and successful giving day for your nonprofit:


  • DO celebrate donors who created any challenge or matching gifts. Don't just thank them when they make the challenge gift— keep them looped into the Giving Day campaign and provide them progress updates via phone, text, and video. When the challenge is met, send an email to let them know and ask their relationship manager/development officer to call them.

  • DO get your leadership involved. At UC Davis, several board members make amazing challenge gifts to encourage new gifts to programs that are important to them every year. Then, the Vice Chancellor records short videos that we send to them on Give Day via ThankView. Last year he included his daughter in the videos, and the board members loved it. It also made them more engaged and kept them involved during the entire day.

  • DO wrap your giving day around other organization events - maybe your founder's day, caregiver's day, or another meaningful day. At UC Davis, they host a huge campus-wide event called Picnic Day. They tied their Give Day to this event and promoted the two events together. It created great synergy with many partners on campus and expanded their reach to those attending the campus event.

  • DO pre-build/draft as many of your communications and recognition materials as you can. This includes social media posts, ThankView video scripts, post-Giving Day impact emails, updated tax receipts, acknowledgment templates, and more!

  • DO incorporate video in all aspects of your Giving Day. From a sizzle reel to lead your promotions to personal challenges from influencers connected to your organization to thoughtful, personalized ThankView messages for your donors, video brings the power of a Giving Day's impact to life unlike any other medium. It's stackable, shareable content that can motivate everyone from first-time donors to major gift prospects—and it's the perfect opportunity to maximize exposure through your social media channels, where video outperforms all other content.

  • DO pre-record thank you videos for members of special donor populations (who give on Giving Day) that you would want to recognize. For example, members of your recognition societies, board members, faculty and staff donors, donors who gave their first gift on Giving Day LAST year, and any others that help feed your organizational priorities!

  • If you plan to focus giving day around similar initiatives year after year, DO be sure that you keep donors up to date on the project's progress and DO be sure you've conveyed impact and gratitude for their giving.

  • DO optimize your giving form. Create a form just for giving day—it should take 30 seconds and two clicks or less to make a gift through your mobile giving form. Make sure you're only asking donors to enter the minimum amount of information needed to process a donation. Now is not the time to ask for additional information.


  • DON'T wait until the last minute! While it can be challenging to work it in around other priorities, you should begin your Giving Day stewardship, recognition, and engagement planning at least 4-6 months in advance. Work with your internal partners to clearly define the priority donor populations and begin work early to develop the necessary data reports and communications collateral to fulfill those plans.

  • DON'T forget to set goals. Your giving day goals should be realistic for you, your resources, and your organization. They should also be measurable. Think about goals that motivate your donors. Some donors aren't motivated by dollar goals but may be more inspired to give if your goals include behaviors like first-time donors, donors from every state/province, new monthly donors, class years, affinities, etc. Get creative and find what motivates your donors!

  • DON'T miss the opportunity to segment your audiences. While your organization may have success with a featured fund or two, a Giving Day also gives you the chance to spotlight lesser-known programs or funds that may have a niche and loyal group of donors. Leverage your Giving Day as a touchpoint for these oft-overlooked populations and watch your results rise alongside the donor experience.

  • DON'T add giving day donors to every mailing/email list for the department or unit they gave to. The donors gave to the project and don't need to receive the department or school's general correspondence, dean's report, etc.

  • DON'T forget to create a stewardship plan specific to your giving day donors. Giving days are a great way to retain donors year after year—but only through thoughtful, planned stewardship efforts. Without a great plan, you lose the opportunity to foster loyalty and retain the donors that you inspired to give in the first place.

Don't let this list overwhelm you. The primary key to a successful giving day is to start planning early. If you want to learn exactly how to engage and steward your donors before, during, and after your giving day, check out our Keys to Giving Day Stewardship Course. This on-demand course will help ensure that your next giving day is your most successful yet!


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