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  • Independent Schools
How to Run a Successful Giving Campaign for Your School
Aaron Schorn, HPA

What do you do when you are invited to piggy-back on an exquisitely branded event with its own website that has single-handedly breathed life into the dusty old business of philanthropy? Do. Not. Pass. Go. (Though you WILL collect $200).

You jump on the #GivingTuesday bandwagon without hesitation.

At Hawai'i Preparatory Academy (HPA), we were motivated in a particular this year to take advantage of the international day of giving, as we had just done the work of rebranding our unrestricted giving efforts from the Annual Fund to The HPA Fund. Additionally, we had just launched a parent giving initiative, complete with days of celebration, class captains, and regular communications. So, we planned all of our meetings, festivities, and mailings for Tuesdays, starting with that post-Thanksgiving day in late November. Why not, right?

Online Giving Form from HPA on Android Device

We were given an inch, so we took a mile — and it paid off!

This year more than $31,500 was given by 97 people, including 25 current HPA students. While for some, those numbers may feel small, for us they represent about 10% of our annual goal and about 25% of our total donors.

For a range of reasons, we had less time to plan for #GivingTuesday than we would have preferred, but we followed this basic framework, and we pulled off a great effort. And this is the kind of framework that HPA and all private schools can follow for #GivingTuesday, or any other development campaign for that reason.

1. Create a High-Converting Landing Page

It all starts with branding. We focused on the word "participate," which is a central theme for The HPA Fund and, thus, became central to #GivingTuesday. We built a dynamic web page filled with value propositions, calls to action, and content that gives purpose to the participants interest in giving.

HPA Giving Landing Page

We featured student and faculty videos about what giving to HPA does and can do for our students. The online giving form was embedded on the page for ease of use, and we strengthened our post-form completion thank you message by adding a video about the impact of giving.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have a PayPal link, as it has by FAR the most preferred payment method for our online givers.

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2. Focus on Human Connections

We worked with students for promotions. From announcements at Residential Life meetings and during meals to setting up a table at lunch right outside of the Student Union, all messaging was about the importance of participating in #GivingTuesday...for HPA or for charities that are important to them.

#GivingTuesday - Focus on Human Connections

Admittedly, next year we will have to do a better job of setting the stage: that the day is centered around participating, not counting dollars. The game of operator is not your friend. Who knew that kids would ask their parents if the school was going to close because they were being asked to give whatever pennies they could spare!?

We also invited our student and parent groups to gather on campus to demonstrate their school spirit, by waving signage and urging everyone to participate on #GivingTuesday.

3. Create Segmented Email Communications

Using Finalsite's Enotify, we created two emails to ensure a personalized experience. This drove people to the site page and yielded us gifts even before #GivingTuesday.

One email went to to constituents that have given recently:

HPA Email for Donors

The other email went to potential donors who were yet to give:

HPA Email for Non-Donors

4. Promote and Celebrate Your Campaign on Social Media

We asked students to post #unselfies on their own social media pages, and we took pictures for our own outlets.

HPA - Unselfie Collage

Janet Melton, HPA's Director of Parent Programs and Special Events, writes, "The success of GivingTuesday can be attributed to the use of our greatest resources here at school - students, parents, alumni, and faculty/staff. We invited all of these groups to post our Giving Tuesday taglines - #hpagivingtuesday and #unselfie. We took photos of these different constituencies and posted them on social media. They also posted the messaging out to their own pages, creating and garnering support from all groups associated with HPA. I personally felt that our alumni, posting their messages of support, were some of the most powerful."

Buy-in is always crucial for our campaigns. Involving every stakeholder in our community allowed for the message of participation to spread. I hope that this recap was helpful for your #GivingTuesday plan of action in 2017, and I look forward to hearing about what you all did. You can email me at aschorn@hpa.edu.

10 Strategies for Engaging Donors

Aaron Schorn


Aaron Schorn is the webmaster, community manager and a teacher at Hawai'i Preparatory Academy. With a background in legal studies, political economics, and international relations from UMASS Amherst, he spent his early career globetrotting, from a post in northern Israel that focused on construction management and government relations to a Wall Street fund for development in the then-newly created country, South Sudan. Now at HPA's enviable location in Hawai'i, he's taken his self-described obsession with project management and operations streams and has transformed the school's site into a student-centered experience.

  • Advancement
  • Landing Pages
  • Web Design
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