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Giving days like Pittsburgh Gives, the North Texas Big Give, and Give to the Max Day: Minnesota raised tens of millions of dollars and generated significant publicity for their nonprofit communities. Now more states, regions, and cities are considering this model of philanthropic giving.
This research examines how a giving contest impacts a metropolitan region by analyzing the data available from Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington in contrast with other giving contests. Whether you are considering organizing a giving contest for your community, or thinking about participating via your nonprofit, this research will help you.
Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington was conceived to strengthen the area’s nonprofit community, not only financially, but also through improved online fundraising skills and better donor-nonprofit relationships. To achieve these goals, organizers built the event with three key components:
- A contest structure that supported individual giving with a higher priority on individual donors versus size of dollars.
- A nonprofit training program that would help organizations not only to perform better during the giving day, but also acquire long-term online fundraising skills.
- Finally, a significant marketing program was deployed to heighten the awareness of the nonprofit community and facilitate the event.
The contest results were notable. Including prize money, Give to the Max Day raised $2 million for 1,200 nonprofits from 18,000 donors on November 9, 2011, its inaugural effort. The event also generated a significant amount of grassroots word of mouth publicity.
Donors were happy with the event: 96 percent said they were more likely to give additional monies to nonprofits as a result of participation in the day. Nonprofits performed well, with 37 percent of survey respondents raising $2,500 or more. Forty-one percent of nonprofit respondents said their best prior online fundraiser was $2,500 or greater, showing the event rivaled most nonprofits’ prior efforts.
The training program, a series of online and offline nonprofit boot camps which took place in the months leading up to the giving day, achieved its overarching goals. Eighty-eight percent of nonprofit survey respondents felt the training program helped, and 84 percent reported that the training increased their ability to interact and fundraise online. The training did reveal a social media and online fundraising knowledge division in the Washington nonprofit community, between those who are experienced and comfortable with related tools, and those still learning basic social media outreach.
Overall findings demonstrate that giving days offer regions an opportunity that bolsters their nonprofit communities with short-term funds, long-term online fundraising skills, and an increase in awareness of their important work. Other findings show how different factors can impact the health of a giving day. These factors include different event structures such as contests or matching grants, the strength or weakness of a region’s identity, and multichannel marketing that addresses nonprofits and consumers.