Equity was one of the hot topics among foundation leaders attending this year’s Council on Foundations Leading Together Conference. Broadly defined as “the state, quality or ideal of being just, impartial and fair,” it’s a complex and multidimensional concept increasingly built into foundations’ missions and goals.
GiveGab attended this year’s conference to better understand what we can do to support the current needs of nonprofits. As we talked with foundation and nonprofit leaders, issues related to equity, such as the need for equitable grantmaking and rethinking the composition of boards to closely resemble the communities they represent, came up frequently.
One thing that struck us was that we didn’t hear a lot about equitable fundraising. After all, if we’re talking about inclusion and equality as essential ingredients in achieving equity, we should also be talking about bringing more, and more diverse, nonprofits and donors to the philanthropic table.
Over the past few years, Giving Days—or Days of Giving—have become an increasingly popular and effective way to help achieve this elusive goal of cultivating a more diverse group of donors and giving nonprofits of all sizes a place at the table. In 2018, GiveGab supported more than 100 Giving Days across the United States, from small rural counties to state-wide celebrations of community philanthropy and nationwide mission-driven initiatives. And this number continues to grow.
While Giving Days continue to be an effective fundraising strategy—the repeat Giving Days we supported in 2018 grew their fundraising by an average of 37%—the value they provide extends well beyond dollars raised. Here are just a few of the ways our Giving Day partners are using their platforms to support their organizations’ equity goals:
Awareness for community-wide issues
Giving Days are not just fundraising sites; they are community and civic engagement platforms distinct from an organization’s website. A variety of civic organizations, including community foundations, United Ways and issue-based nonprofits, are using their Giving Day platforms as awareness tools to spread their advocacy messages throughout their communities, invite nonprofits to profile their unique stories and stakeholders, and facilitate connections between nonprofits and new donors.
Giving Days elevate the collective efforts of the community. Integrated social media sharing makes it easy to create online buzz. And, because of the excitement and urgency of a 24-hour Giving Day, many partners find eager media partners to amplify their messages through traditional channels. Opportunities for sponsor and employer matching also help bring businesses to the table and, in turn, incentivize donors to multiply the impact of their donation.
Not more chairs, but a bigger table
New donors are the lifeblood of a sustainable fundraising strategy, but where do you find them? You meet them where they are. Today, smartphones are ubiquitous, even in economically disadvantaged areas, and almost half of the donors are giving on mobile devices. Many younger donors and those with lower means want to be involved but find it challenging to give $25, let alone $1,000.
These donors, who in many cases more closely resemble the communities the nonprofits serve, are frequent donors during Giving Days, which typically accept online donations of as little as $5.00. They are motivated by opportunities to have their gift matched or help their favorite nonprofit win a prize, and are often eager to volunteer or become Peer-to-Peer (P2P) fundraisers.
The Power of P2P
We’ve found that P2P fundraising—an essential feature of many Giving Days—is among the most powerful ways to multiply your donor base. According to data from our Giving Day partners, on average nonprofits using P2P fundraisers during Giving Days raise 300% more than those that do not and cultivate four new donors for each P2P fundraiser. In a world where word of mouth and online user reviews are quickly displacing advertising as top influencers, P2P fundraisers are the philanthropic equivalent of brand evangelizers. These supporters enable you to reach way beyond your typical donors as you engage their social networks and their networks’ networks of potential supporters.
Why You Should Consider Hosting a Giving Day in Your Community:
We recently visited a Community Foundation’s website whose landing page featured an image of three older white men. This Foundation serves a community with much more diversity in age, race and economic circumstance than this image implied, but we struggled to find a visual representation of those groups throughout the website.
If you held a mirror up to your organization’s public online presence, what would you see? Like your board, staff and funders, does it reflect the demographics and multiple viewpoints of the nonprofits you support and the communities they serve? Are you effectively helping your nonprofits reach donors and supporters as diverse as the people and issues for which they advocate? And are you able to help them pivot their fundraising efforts to reach donors where they are?
If your answers to these questions give you pause, a Giving Day may be a good way to start building a bigger philanthropic table in your community.
What Giving Days can Accomplish
- Unites foundations, nonprofits, socially-minded businesses, and donors around a common goal to elevate the entire community through a single platform;
- Provides nonprofits of all sizes an online presence and the tools they need to effectively engage new and existing supporters where they are;
- Energizes donors with a sense of urgency and the ability to multiply the impact of their donation through matches, prizes, and peer-to-peer fundraising, regardless of their capacity to give;
- Encourages donors to discover, learn about and engage with nonprofits they may never have heard of;
- Exposes nonprofits to new networks of supporters through peer-to-peer fundraising and volunteer opportunities.
If you’re interested in learning more about hosting a Giving Day on GiveGab