Since the launch of America’s Giving Challenge in 2007, online contests have become a popular tactic for philanthropists and cause marketers. One form of the online giving contest is the giving or match day, where local donors and nonprofits come together for a day of giving, unifying a state, city, or region.

The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the United Way of the National Capital Area, and Washington, DC, based social online fundraising platform Razoo decided to create a giving day on November 9, 2011, for the Greater Washington DC region’s nonprofit community.

The effort sought to bolster charitable giving to the region’s nonprofit community, a core aspect of its mission. This giving day sought to heighten awareness of the region’s entire nonprofit community, provide new opportunities for individual philanthropy, and strengthen the nonprofit community’s ability to fundraise year-round.

Washington, DC, became one of the first major metropolitan regions to host a multimillion-dollar local giving day, Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington. Almost 18,000 people participated in this online fundraising contest and raised more than $2 million for 1,200 participating nonprofits.

This 24-hour fundraising effort was clearly a success for local nonprofits, but organizers were interested to know if it signaled a beginning trend in national philanthropy: giving days as a form of regional nonprofit development.

This report, commissioned by the Case Foundation, analyzes the impact of Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington through a series of research methods:

  • Quantitative analysis of the giving day’s financial performance
  • Interviews with nonprofits, and a giving day partner, GiveMN Executive Director Dana Nelson
  • Surveys of participating donors and nonprofits conducted immediately following the giving day
  • Analysis of third party media reports and social media posts about Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington

The report seeks to show how a giving day contest impacts a metropolitan area’s nonprofit community. In particular, can these contests provide a financial boost during tough economic times, strengthen relationships between donors and nonprofits, and serve as an online capacity-building moment for participating nonprofits, all while strengthening the general nonprofit sector? Or are they another giving gimmick that fatigues donors and distracts nonprofits from vital mission-based activities?