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  • Higher Education
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9 Tips 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 5 years, more than 1,000 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 November 28 — and with just over a 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 campaign.

#givingtuesday header

1. Get on the official #GivingTuesday List

If you haven't already, submit your school on the #GivingTuesday website. By submitting this form, you'll be listed in their online directory of organizations who having joined the #GivingTuesday movement. From the directory, you can link individuals directly to your website, or your #GivingTuesday page to drive additional traffic. The directory currently has more than 1,300 schools listed.

On their website, you can also submit your school's story to be featured on their blog, gaining your school website even more traffic.

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 PagePops.

Don't worry about spending hours (or days!) on something, as something simple works just fine. Here are a couple of examples:

Madison-Ridgeland Academy use this graphic in all of their promotions last year:

MRA Giving Tuesday

De La Salle High School created this graphic and uses it every year in their #GivingTuesday campaign.

de la salle giving tuesday logo

3. Build a Dedicated Landing Page

In order to track both the success of your #GivingTuesday efforts, and create a seamless user experience, complete with your #GivingTuesday branding, you'll want to build a custom landing page. If you use Finalsite Composer, it'll be easy — and you can follow this six-step guide to building one here.

As a matter of fact, Hawai'i Preparatory Academy used this template for their #GivingTuesday campaign last year, which brought in $31,00 from 97 donors — including 25 students! While for some, those numbers may feel small, for HPA they represent about 10% of their annual goal and about 25% of total donors.

HPA Giving Tuesday landing page

Avon 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?"

Here is an example from Immaculate High School that proves simple, short, and somewhat humorous, works:

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?"

You could also send a "Save the Date" reminder to your entire community, as Trinity-Pawling did last year:

trinity-pawling giving tuesday

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.

ihs giving tuesday email

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 PagePops

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.

8. Promote it on social media

Last year, we shared six strategies for making the most of #GivingTuesday — specifically on social media. And not much has changed — events, hashtags, branded header images and targeted social media ads still make a big impact. But the real question on everyone's mind 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. At this point, you'll want to 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
  • 10-15 Tweets per week

However, these numbers can fluctuate based on how active your school already is on social media. Always keep the 4-1-1 rule in mind: For every four pieces of entertaining or educational content, you're allowed one soft sell and one hard sell.

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!"

On Wednesday, 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

10 Strategies for Engaging Donors


Mia Major

As Finalsite's Content Marketing Manager, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specialises in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.

  • Advancement
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