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How to Market Your Giving Day

Guest Post: Kari Dunn Saratovsky/KDS Strategies

(Knight Foundation recently published the Giving Day Playbook, a comprehensive, how-to guide geared toward putting on a 24-hour campaign.  Here, co-author Kari Dunn Saratovsky writes about getting the word out.)

Once your foundation has decided to embark upon a Giving Day, it’s time to let the world (or at least your community) know!

Don’t feel like you have to go at it alone –  the most successful marketing campaigns happen when a broad network of nonprofits, donors, matching funders, strategic partners and media partners come together to get the community excited and primed to participate on the big day.

Below are three ways that your community foundation can stay ahead of the curve when it comes to spreading the word about your Giving Day. Just remember, developing and implementing a marketing campaign takes time. We suggest starting these conversations at least four months in advance of the Giving Day.

This Communications Calendar Template can help you strategically prepare and schedule your Giving Day marketing and communications outreach.

1. Establish a common message and distinct brand for your Giving Day

Giving Days are not only beneficial to the local nonprofits who are participating. They can be a major marketing and branding opportunity for your community foundation.  With this in mind, it’s important to create a simple yet powerful brand that not only positions the foundation as the convener of a Giving Day, but also ties back to some common messaging about the work you do year-round.  While a Giving Day at its core is about helping local nonprofits raise money and awareness for their own causes, think about what you as the convener of the Giving Day want to get out of it and ensure that your brand and messaging aligns.

Once your brand is in place, make sure it starts showing up everywhere. Provide organizations and partners with downloadable icons, banners and other images that can be shared on their websites and on campaign materials so that the Giving Day brand is getting out to the community in every way possible. Take a look at how some other organizations like DoMore24GiveMN, and North Texas Giving Day have armed their partners with collateral materials to spread the word.

2. Leverage community champions to amplify your voice

Leveraging your networks is absolutely necessary if you want to build momentum for your Giving Day. Take some time to think about the diverse makeup of your community. Who are the leaders and influencers who can help spread the word? Maybe it’s a mayor or other local elected official; a college or university president; a business or civic leader. Whatever the case, get the right champions on board and make sure they have the tools to help engage their networks. Partners and influencers can help you reach more people because of the trusted relationships they have already built.  You can find more here on how to effectively engage community champions in the Giving Day Playbook.

3. Keep it social

The most common (and potentially effective) method of communication for your Giving Day is online and social media.  But, breaking through the clutter of people’s in-boxes, news feeds and twitter streams, not to mention capturing their limited attention spans, can be a challenge. If used correctly, your website, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account have the potential to reach a large population, circulate dynamic content and engage the community in meaningful dialogue to help build your Giving Day.

In general, you want to keep your Giving Day website simple and user-friendly. Targeted multimedia, including a short video like this one from North Texas Giving Day and a few compelling pictures, can substantially increase user engagement. If you are using Razoo, you will be able to use its established web template, which includes all of the recommended components.  To get an idea of how to set up your Giving Day website, check out the following examples:

Regardless of your previous experience with social media, you can and should strategically use Facebook, Twitter and, where appropriate, other social media channels to spread the word about your Giving Day.  Getting started on social media can be intimidating. But with a little practice, you can be up and running in no time.  Just make sure that your staff has the time to devote to all of your social media strategies (better to follow-through on a few strategies than start many and not continue them). This general social media webinar and this Giving Day-specific social media webinar are great places to begin.

Knight Foundation’s newly released Giving Day Playbook is rich with resources and tools to help take the stress off of you and your organization when it comes to planning and launching a Giving Day. Use the templates and resources to fuel your Giving Day, but most important get creative and have fun!

Kari Saratovsky is the founder of KDS Strategies. She has spent her career working in both the government and nonprofit sectors building strategic alliances, directing programs and facilitating national efforts that advance social change.  Previously, Kari served as Vice President of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation.


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