Modern Giving Day Strategies
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6 min read
January 20, 2023

Modern Giving Day Strategies

FYI Podcast
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Spring is right around the corner, which most likely means your institution has a Giving Day on the horizon. 

With traditional fundraising methods becoming outdated, your advancement teams may be wondering how to make the most significant impact with this year’s giving day. 

First, let’s start by defining what a giving day is. 

What is a Giving Day?

Aside from giving you another touchpoint with donors before the fiscal year-ends, Giving Days serve as a chance for colleges and universities to reach new donors, engage with their existing community, and raise funds for initiatives that your audiences are passionate about.  

Many traditional channels like direct mail or phone programs have lost their touch, making virtual giving days with engaging online presences the most impactful. 

So, where do you get started? 


A giving day is an exercise in how well you can tell your story to inspire action from donors and how well you trust your data. 

Start by engaging your campus allies. Getting buy-in from other campus stakeholders makes your giving day easier, and typically more successful. Once everyone’s on board and you’ve identified your giving day goals, tailor your messages to specific causes your donors can contribute to. 

Your contacts won’t know where to donate unless you tell them. Every interaction a constituent has with your institution gives you clues to who they are and what they care about. 

Perhaps you’ve started an emergency fund for students in need or are trying to drive dollars to a specific scholarship or athletic program. Using the data you have collected, align your messages that speak directly to the interests of your target audience, which brings us to our next point. 


Personalized communication is one of, if not the most important factors in a successful giving day campaign.

Segmenting your audience allows you to break your contact database into groups based on specific criteria. Using geography, campus organizations/participation, class years, etc. to spur engagement is also a great way to utilize different groups of contacts. 

Some examples: 

  • Start competitions between graduating classes or geographic locations, athletic teams, etc.
  • If students received scholarships, reach out with messaging around paying it forward so the next generation has the same opportunities.

Keep in mind that people change. Don’t assume that an alumnus/alumna’s activity as a student defines their interests as an alum. 

Aside from segmenting data and personalizing your messages, we’ve got more modern strategies to help drive more donations. 


A 25-year-old will have different giving preferences than a 65-year-old. Understanding how different generations give is essential to your giving day strategy. 

Having grown up with economic instability, polarizing social issues, global challenges, and instant access through technology, Generation Z is hungry to make the world a better place. They are typically motivated to support non-profits and drive social change in terms of giving.

Personalization is essential. Be smart about using your contact data and segment to cater to their unique interests. Messages must be hyper-targeted and relevant to your recipients for all generations, especially Gen Z.

Use social media wisely. This group has developed a high tolerance for social ads, so allocate some of your budget to paid social targeting Gen Z. 

Millennials are an excellent source for giving, with 84% of the generation donating an annual average of $481 across 3.3 organizations. Peer-to-peer fundraising is also popular with Millennials, as they stay ultra-connected to their peers.


The COVID-19 pandemic and other current events have inspired many people to donate as they saw an immediate need for help. But what is the best way to keep those donors engaged? 

  • Invite newer donors to like your social media pages and sign up for emails and texting so they can stay informed on what your school is doing and where their dollars are going.
  •  Share your appreciation and the direct impact they had on students.
  • If you haven’t been regularly communicating with this group, research them to develop an engagement plan — understand why they started giving so you can encourage new and increased giving.
  • Don’t know where to start? Ask them! Reach out via email and text to ask why they gave in the past and what it meant to them to help current and future students.

Having a mobile approach for donations is growing in popularity. Many institutions are exploring online apps to extend their fundraising reach and further simplify the giving process, with apps like Facebook, GoFundMe, PayPal, Venmo, Cash, or Zelle. 

Work with your business office and the vendor (PayPal, Venmo, Apple Pay, etc.) to get payments processed directly to your institution to avoid tax officials coming after well-meaning staff or volunteers accepting app donations on behalf of your school.

Also, make sure to check disclaimers. Facebook, for example, has a policy that any funds received through a personal fundraiser on the social media platform may be taxable if more than $20,000 is raised. 

Venmo is a popular payment method amongst Gen Z and Millennials and is the largest source of transactions under $300. Grow your donor base by asking for small donations, which can make a massive difference for your institution.

More tips for mobile approach giving:

  • Whether it’s a text, email, or social post, be sure to include your handle or include the link to your Venmo profile to make giving as easy as possible.
  • Take advantage of Venmo as a social platform — have “teams” donate with hashtags, which will spark conversations and encourage their friends to donate. Be sure to thank them in the comments for their donation!
  • We’ve seen non-profits create and share bingo boards with the message, “Choose an amount and help me fill my board” as a way to gamify giving. 

With any contribution to your institution, it’s essential to express your gratitude and thank donors for their support. 

Luckily, you should receive a lot of data in return for the investments made on giving day—where people donated, if it was their first contribution, etc., so use that information to personalize your follow-up communications with them. 

Continue sharing stories that result from your giving day contributions with your audiences as well. Small reminders ahead of your next fundraising event help highlight how a donor’s gift gets used. 

Learn more modern giving day strategies in our recorded For Your Institution Live event with the video below.