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9 Tips on How to Make Your School’s #GivingTuesday Campaign a Success
Mia Major

Known as the "global day of giving," #GivingTuesday has provided schools with a day dedicated to philanthropy since its inception in 2012. Over the past 8 years, thousands educational institutions have joined in the day of giving to increase donations for their annual fund, capital campaign, or smaller, more targeted campaigns.

This year's #GivingTuesday is December 1 — and with just a few weeks month to go, there's still plenty of time to craft content and a strategy that will aid in your development efforts. Whether this is your first #GivingTuesday, or you're a seasoned veteran, here are the top nine ways to make the most of this year's #GivingTuesday campaign.


In Episode 16 of The School Marketing Show LIVE! we discuss 9 ways to ensure your #GivingTuesday is a success. Watch it below, or keep reading for even more details and examples! 👇


1. Get Your Messaging Right

First things first! If you want your #GivingTuesday campaign to be a success, your messaging and approach needs to be both empathic and logical. This year's #GivingTuesday feels different because of the economic hardships that Covid-19 has on some families — and your messaging needs to reflect that.

This year's messaging should include two key components:

  1. Why give: Amplify the people and programs within your community directly impacted by donations. The goal is to show prospective donors exactly where their funds are going.
     
  2. No donation is too small: Focus on getting lots of small donations to encourage engagement from first-time donors and your extended alumni community. Express that even $5 can make a difference.

2. Create Your Own Branded Graphic

Because #GivingTuesday is a global initiative, it's important you make it your own. Create a graphic that blends together your school's branding with the #GivingTuesday branding, and any unique hashtag you've created. This is the graphic you'll use on your social media channels, website, and landing pages; as well as in your emails communications and page pops.

Don't worry about spending hours (or days!) on something, as something simple works just fine. And if you head on over to givingtuesday.org/organizations, there are some free templates you can personalize and use.

Here are a few examples:

This example from Holy Child Academy in PA puts faces to their initiative — which is step one of a successful campaign — so we love this graphic!

holy child giving tuesday graphic

This simple and clean graphic from International School of Denver in CO brings unites #GivingTuesday branding with their ow for a cohesive look and feel.

IS denver giving tuesday graphic

3. Build a Dedicated Landing Page

Ugh — I know, I'm adding more work to your plate. But hear me out, if you want to make the most #GivingTuesday, this is step cannot be skipped. Now is not the time to send donors to your standard donation page because:

Your content needs adjusting: It is important to clarify why families should give on #GivingTuesday, during the holidays, during a global pandemic. Focus on sharing the messaging you've developed for your campaign, rather than messaging you use for your regular giving pages.

Your form needs adjusting: Your standard giving page likely includes suggested donations in higher amounts (we've seen some as high as $25,000!), and it's important to drive home the importance of smaller donations on this day of giving in particular. Adjust your form to be shorter than normal, mobile-friendly, and have smaller suggested donation values.

The experience needs to be mobile-first: For many schools, the majority of #GivingTuesday promotion and engagement happens on social media — meaning your landing page needs to be build with mobile in mind. 

You'll want precise metrics: Creating a separate page on your website for #GivingTuesday allows you to track the traffic and conversions for that campaign, specifically, in Google Analytics.

This page from Saint Mary's Ryken in Maryland does all the right things on their landing page, including adding a video, thermometer, content on "why give" and a precise and achievable goal. You can also directly give on this landing page, making the process seamless for donors!

saint mary's ryken #givingtuesday landing page

If you use Finalsite Composer, it'll be easy — and you can follow this six-step guide to building one hereAvon Old Farms School followed the guide as well, building a new #GivingTuesday landing page on their site, complete with a compelling value proposition, short video, and form.

AOF giving tuesday landing page

4. Create Your Content

Whether it be a video, a series of "Why I give" testimonials, blog posts, or alumni success stories, you'll want to quickly build, crowdsource, or dig up, content you can use throughout your campaign in emails and on social media so you're not asking for donations without giving something in return.

You can also repurpose older content, as long as it helps to answer the question of "why give?"

5. Link #GivingTuesday to a Smaller, More Targeted Campaign

Using #GivingTuesday as a way to fuel your annual fund is a completely fine idea. However, sometimes donors may still have the "my small amount doesn't make a difference," mentality and linking a one-day giving event to a smaller campaign or case at your school makes reaching the goal much more feasible.

For example, last year, Saint Joan Antida High School used #GivingTuesday for their #FillTheBus campaign. The school, which provides bus transportation to more than 50% of our students, wanted to raise $10,000 in 24 hours, even though the annual cost is $108,000.

st. joan antinda fill the bus

Their #FillTheBus page highlighted that it costs $1,000 per student to provide bus transportation for one school year, giving donors a completely feasible goal: fund 10 students who rely on bus transportation.

In this campaign, in particular, the advancement team does an excellent job of making "where the dollars go" both highly visible and highly emotional, as it affects 50% of the current community.

6. Send a Targeted Email Announcement

Once you've completed steps 1-3, you'll have all the content you need to promote your involvement in #GivingTuesday. Taking to your email list is the obvious, and in some cases, most successful first step.

The email should be simple. Include the branded graphic as a header image, key information on how to give, where the donations will be going (annual fund, capital campaign, something else), and of course, answer that oh-so-important question of "why give?"

Because the answer to the "why give?" question will vary slightly based on your audience, create an email template you love, and then swap out content based on audience. Sending the same message to everyone won't resonate as much as a personalized message.

After this announcement, you'll need an email strategy. You'll also want to include a reference to your #GivingTuesday campaign in your weekly newsletter, and send at least two more #GivingTuesday-specific emails in the days leading up to it, as well as on #GivingTuesday itself.

It is also a good idea to plan on some "reminder" and countdown emails on #GivingTuesday itself. Try to stick to three or less emails on the actual day of the event. This email from Immaculate High School is a great example, as it has new content from #GivingTuesday — giving subscribers a fresh story to read.

You will also need to account for an email on the day after #GivingTuesday to say "thanks!" to all your donors, and let your community know if you met your goal.

7. Create Targeted Page Pops

While PagePops are a useful tool to get urgent messages out on your homepage, when used strategically, they can drive targeted traffic. Ask yourself — where do our key donors usually go? Adding PagePops to your password-protected portals, and other top-hit pages on your website for current constituents and alumni will ensure those you want to see your message, will.

Pro Tip: Avoid adding these page pops to areas of your website where prospective families spend time, as it may add extra noise as they explore your website.

8. Promote it on Social Media

A successful #GivingTuesday is powered by an engaging social media presence. But the real question on everyone's mind for this year's day of giving is: When should we post? What should we post? And where?

To simplify it, here's a social media strategy you can follow:

Step 1: Make your announcement on social media at least 30 days prior to #GivingTuesday. So if you haven't already, now is the time! At this point, you can also swap out your social media headers to promote #GivingTuesday, create a Facebook event, and make at least one post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep in mind that if you have different accounts for alumni and current constituents, you'll want to tailor the message accordingly. You'll also want to have a branded hashtag for your campaign to aggregate all your posts into one place.

Step 2: Throughout the month of November, you'll want to make your community aware that your school is participating in #GivingTuesday, without making it take over your entire feed. To maintain a balance of good content your community enjoys, like news, photos, blogs, and videos, we suggest the following sequence:

  • 1-2 Facebook posts per week
  • 1 Instagram post per week
  • 1-2 LinkedIn posts per week
  • 5 Tweets per week

However, these numbers can fluctuate based on how active your school already is on social media. Always keep the 70/20/10 rule in mind — only about 10% of all posts should be self-promotional.

Step 3: You will also want to include some paid ads into your social media strategy. For your #GivingTuesday campaign, create different target audiences based on constituent status — student, parent, grandparent, alum, etc — and slightly tailor the text in your ads to engage those different audiences. This is extremely important, as the same thing that provokes a current student to donate may not be the same as an alum, and especially a grandparent. A realistic budget to make ads work for you is about $50-$100/week during the campaign.

Step 4: On the week of #GivingTuesday, we encourage you to increase the numbers of posts, and on the day of #GivingTuesday, post at least twice on Facebook and LinkedIn, and post about every two hours on Twitter. We also recommend using Live video, on both Facebook and Instagram, to engage your audience with up-to-the-minute updates.

9. Say "Thanks!"

The day after #GivingTuesday, have some immediate content in the queue to show gratitude towards your community. While you may want to plan a grander way to show your appreciation, an immediate "thank you" is absolutely essential. This can be done via email and on social media, and we recommend getting that content ready ahead of time.

IHS - GivingTuesday

In this example from Immaculate High School in CT, they had the graphic and page ready-to-go, and simply filled in the "blanks" the following day with the #GivingTuesday impact! The link to this page was sent to all donors immediately after #GivingTuesday

Key Takeaway

This year's #GivingTuesday may be more important than ever to your school's fundraising campaigns — so be sure to give your strategy the attention to detail it requires. By following the nine tips outlined in this blog, you'll be able to reach and engage your audiences with content and an experience that resonates with them this year.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mia Major

Mia is a creative and passionate school marketing thought-leader. Since joining the Finalsite team in 2013, Mia has produced hundreds of pieces of content with one goal in mind: helping private, public, and international schools improve their online presence. In her current role as director of demand generation, Mia focuses on full-funnel inbound marketing strategies. She's also a co-host on The School Marketing Show, a frequent blogger, e-book author, Expert Course consultant and webinar host. She loves putting storytelling at the heart of all communications — and before joining the Finalsite team, Mia was a TV and radio broadcaster, wedding cinematographer, and author for various online magazines. She is an army wife, mom, and rookie photographer currently living in southern Georgia.

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