Community foundations find success with online Giving Days

The midnight staff crew celebrates the end of Georgia Gives Day, which took place on Nov. 13. Photo credit: Tom Zimmerman/Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

Building upon a successful Giving Day pilot program in 2012, Knight Foundation continued its partnership with community foundations this year. Many witnessed even more success during the 2013 “Giving Season.”

Give Miami Day, organized by The Miami Foundation, raised a record $3.2 million, nearly tripling the amount it raised in its inaugural year.

In Minnesota more than 4,400 nonprofits raised $17.1 million during the state’s annual Give to the Max Day. Despite technical difficulties, more than 52,000 individuals donated via the platform

Georgia Gives Day, a collaboration of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits and local nonprofits and foundations, also raised more than $1.4 million.

Giving Days – online fundraising marathons – are important vehicles for community foundations to engage new donors and can help them to raise their public profiles.

Here at Knight we want to make sure that our community partners have the tools to make these events successful. That’s why we earlier this year we released an online toolkit to guide them through the basics of running a Giving Day. Filled with recommendations, checklists and templates, it was designed to make campaigns manageable with step-by-step advice.

In the lead-up to this year’s Giving Days, Knight also partnered with the #GivingTuesday community. The goal was to share lessons learned about running online fundraising campaigns with a broader community of nonprofits.

Knight staff participated in a Twitter #fundchat about how to best secure online contributions through Giving Days and a Google+ Hangout with the Chronicle of Philanthropy on how to build a successful Giving Day. They also participated in a series of webinars, including one with #GivingTuesday founder Henry Timms with the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Nearly 100 community foundations, nonprofits and others interested in hosting a Giving Day also participated in a Knight-hosted webinar with Beth Kanter.

Several community foundations in Knight communities will hold Giving Days during the first half of 2014. They include:

May 6 marks Give Local America day, a national day of giving sponsored by the National Council on Foundations. The day will commemorate the 100th anniversary of community foundations. There are now more than 750 community foundations across the country which help people easily support issues they care about. Gifts made on Give Local America day will be amplified with matching funds from a national pool. Any community foundation can participate.

By Elizabeth R. Miller, communications association at Knight Foundation