This article was written in collaboration with Orr Group, a full-service consultancy that transforms nonprofits through embedded partnerships, trusted advice, and the business of philanthropy.

Unifying donors around a special cause or impact-driven theme on one designated fundraising giving day can be an exciting and fun way to spur generosity, leverage gifts, and encourage community-minded philanthropists to feel even more involved in your organization’s mission.

GivingTuesday, which falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, probably immediately comes to mind and you may have even participated in this popular giving day. We have seen many creative giving day email and social media campaigns to include matching donations, donation challenges, meeting the goal of a time-sensitive initiative, to live-streamed events. Each giving day sets out with a singular objective in mind: to generate excitement and engagement among donors. These fundraising efforts can last for a 24-hour period or for a specific period of time with the goal of raising funds for a particular program, project, or issue.

Lots of organizations leap at the chance to leverage the broader attention that giving days bring. Still, many struggle to craft focused fundraising plans. Hint: A hashtag alone won’t generate donations. 

Instead, organizations need a roadmap, the same way you would develop a fundraising or marketing campaign for any other strategic development effort. A well-executed giving day strategy will take careful planning and collaborative thought across departments, with your board, volunteers, development committee, and development team.  

Following are three steps organizations will want to make sure they consider when planning their participation in the next giving day: 

1. Give donors a problem to solve.

Paint the picture of what the world looked like before program participants discovered your organization. If you operate a homeless shelter, describe what life is like on the streets. If you lead a community center, describe the trouble that teens get into when left to their own devices. If you run a school, describe the frustration of a student who doesn’t feel at home in a classroom or was turned away because they could not afford to attend. 

Once you’ve painted a picture of the problem, share the impact this donor’s gift can make and the problem or issue their generosity will help solve. 

Because of you, Eloise, who had nowhere else to turn will get the first good night’s sleep in days, enjoy a warm meal, a comfortable bed, and a friendly, non-judgmental community. 

Because of you, an at-risk teen will discover a world of extracurricular activities from basketball to robotics.  

Because of you, a student will overcome learning challenges to discover a love of reading that will last a lifetime. 

2. Task supporters with raising money for your cause, not just donating.

Donating is only the second most beneficial action your donors can take. The first is introducing you to other prospective donors through peer-to-peer fundraising. 

Beyond asking them to donate, ask them to raise $1,000 from their friends and/or family. If that feels too transactional, ask them to raise money (any amount!) from 10 people in their networks. This helps spread the message about your organization and expand your network of supporters, and thus your service reach.

Once participants set a goal, you can provide them with customizable templates to reach out to their social circles. 

3. Be strategic with your messaging.

Create a giving day campaign calendar of engagement, and follow it! Work with your marketing and communications team to develop a series of messages to go out weekly, each building on the sense of urgency and importance of your organization’s mission and program delivery. Share testimonials from your leadership team, board members, and most importantly your program participants. Recorded “thank you” videos from an organization’s CEO have worked well for many of the nonprofits we’ve supported. 

Remember to segment your donor database by considering past giving history, philanthropic intent, and donor demographics. It is important to tailor your messaging and your “ask” to inspire and motivate all of your various donor groups.  

Executing a successful giving day campaign can be inspiring for your donors and really move the needle for your organization. If you take the time to plan carefully, build a strong team to implement the process, track and report on progress, and be generous with your gratitude, your giving day campaign can be a win-win way to engage donors year over year. 


Orr Group embeds their team in yours, supplying you with the people, resources, and customized solutions you need to drive your mission forward. For more information about working with Orr Group, please visit

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