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Higher Ed #GivingTuesday: Our 2 Cents on 2 Things You Need To Review Right Now

By Geshri Gunasekera October 23, 2017

Giving Tuesday 2017Whether you’re at a large Big 10 University like Michigan State University or a small private institution like Wesleyan University #GivingTuesday is increasingly a major alumni engagement and fundraising event. With just a little over a month to go until Thanksgiving and #GivingTuesday, now is the time to prioritize and finalize those high-impact planning activities. Who has time for a lengthy 10-point, or even 5-point (ok let’s be honest, even 3-point) checklist? Not you! Let’s keep this simple. What two components do you absolutely have to get right to make the day a success?

    1. A Theme to inspire, personalized delivery to make it shine.

    The online social interwebs can be a noisy place on any day, but on #GivingTuesday it is an especially crowded space of asks and urgent needs from truly heart-breaking causes. How will your campus stand-out? Since we’re in October, now is the time to finalize your theme and make it authentic and relevant. Complete any last-minute photo sessions, video interviews, and any other assets that you plan to have your social ambassadors promote. As we’ve noted in a previous post, 22% of American adults have contributed to a crowdsourced online fundraising project, but donations are typically made to help a person in need, like a friend or family member (68%) as opposed to for a school (32%). It is critical to have your message resonate at a personal level.

    By the way, now is also a good time to review your alumni list data to see if it makes sense to append additional data to help personalize the message and/or delivery. Do you have engagement data on alumni attendance at a recent thought leadership or community event? Would understanding your alumni’s athletic affiliations (either as a student on a team or as an alum attending events) be helpful? All of these data points help you chip away at the challenge of helping your staff understand the identities of your alumni so you can personalize your #GivingTuesday message.

    2. A Strategy for Social Listening But First Ask A Question.

    The stakes are higher than ever. It’s no longer enough to simply be present on social media via scheduled posts. The bite-sized communications prevalent across social media plus a time-bound 24-hour giving period (not to mention our collective addiction to our smartphones) have created unique opportunities to have real-time conversations on #GivingTuesday. How well are you listening? For an in-depth guide on social listening for all you new Social Studio users out there, check-out this webinar. We promise it’s way less creepy than it sounds. Need more inspiration to update your social listening strategy? See one of our favorite quotes by Noelle Seybert, who led a recent Giving Day webinar on Pepperdine University’s initiative:

    The social component was great because the best stories about Pepperdine were being told by the alumni that experienced them,” she said. “It made our Giving Day about much more than the dollars it was generating.” [Read more].

    Pepperdine asked donors to briefly describe their inspiration for giving on their Giving Day. Those donor quotes ended up becoming new social media asset content that the team could use right away, enabling those same donors to then amplify the message on their own networks. Brilliant!

Ok that’s it. We promised 2 pointers so now it’s time to wrap. If you’re looking for more tips, the inspiration for this checklist comes from our 2017 #GivingTuesday guide that was produced by our wonderful nonprofit team. You may also want to review “How To Maximize Giving Days”, featuring Pepperdine University and their “Give to Pepp” initiative, which also included some intriguing industry stats. Finally, we also love this HED-specific guide from the #GivingTuesday organizers. Headed to Dreamforce? Don’t forget to add this session to your agenda builder.

Good luck and happy fundraising!