For Love of Children received $86,948 from 45 donors during Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington, winning the contest’s $25,000 Grand Award for the most dollars raised. In addition, the nonprofit won a $2,000 Diamond Ticket for most dollars raised during the 10 p.m. hour. In all, For Love of Children raised $120,000 including ancillary donations and the prize money.
“We’re a pretty small player in the Washington, DC, nonprofit community,” said Andrea Messina, director of development and communications, For Love of Children. “Now everyone is talking about us. We’re the winners. Give to the Max Day provided a huge public relations value for us.”
A key component that several winners exhibited was the ability to communicate the program in advance of the Giving Day. For Love of Children started messaging two weeks in advance of Give to the Max Day on Facebook, Twitter, and in its November email newsletter. The goal was to alert the community about the giving day, and encourage them to participate.
Like a majority of nonprofits, For Love of Children campaigned using the Give to the Max Day event as its primary reason to communicate, forgoing a unique story. The nonprofit did create unique messaging with three calls to action: “Donate, tell your friends” (via email), and “Get your web 2.0” (on Facebook).
On Give to the Max Day, For Love of Children engaged in a combination of direct communications through email and calls, and social media. Components included a special e-newsletter blast in the morning, social network outreach on Twitter and Facebook, and private outreach to long-term For Love of Children supporters.
“We did ask for $50,000 from our private and major donors,” said Andrea Messina. “Reaching out directly to private donors occurred throughout the day. We were in the lead, and wanted to win.”
The community reacted well, with a general familiarity with Give to the Max Day. Everyone knew what the event was, and there was a lot of buzz in the DC nonprofit community already, said Andrea Messina. Several major donors and board members made their annual gift on Give to the Max Day to help For Love of Children win.
One board member loved the campaign and made a huge deal for her birthday. As an “ambassador” she took it upon herself to fundraise and galvanize board members and friends to support the event.
"Just when I thought I'd run out of ways to reach out to my network about FLOC, the Give to The Max campaign provided a timely and dynamic way to engage folks,” said For Love of Children Board Member Rachel Lerman. “Right down to the last hour! Everyone benefitted.”
“People rallied around us as the day progressed,” said Andrea Messina “The excitement was great. People were saying, ‘We’re in first place. Let’s go, and make it happen.” It was more than an online giving drive. With a contest there was more incentive [to help]. Our supporters seized the lead.”
The Give to the Max Day training events did not make a big impact for the nonprofit. In fact, For Love of Children had to participate in the main training conference with Beth Kanter via online live stream because it was sold out. They felt overall that it was hard to hear and stay engaged throughout the day.
The online materials and process of setting up a profile were easy and simple. Further, their donors embraced the Give to the Max Day competition, demonstrating that contest fatigue was not an issue.
“The only thing I would change was the timing in November,” said Messina. “Some people asked us not to ask for donations again in December. Others were hesitant about the conflict it could create with the normal end-of-year giving campaign.”
Overall, Give to the Max Day was viewed as a success by For Love of Children. “A lot of people became donors,” added Andrea Messina. “We have a network of thousands, and now 10 percent of them are giving. The value of small gifts became noticeable, and it got us thinking about a peer-to-peer fundraising contest. Now we’re doing it.”