7 Lessons Nonprofits Can Learn From Give to the Max Day

Photo by Geoff Livingston

Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington was the first giving day event for the D.C area. And because it was the first year, there were three primary goals for the event:

  1. Strengthen the fundraising capacity of the nonprofit community
  2. Develop and nurture the bonds among D.C. nonprofits
  3. Help these orgs deepen donor-nonprofit relationships

Give to the Max Day Strategy

Their strategy was to use a contest structure that put a higher priority on donor participation instead of just dollars.

They did this by providing fundraising training so that orgs could get the most of of Give to the Max Day, unify their messaging across all channels, and conduct a comprehensive marketing campaign prior to Give to the Max Day to encourage organizations to participate, and also provide “ask leverage” for organizations.

Results for Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington

7 Lessons Nonprofits Can Learn From Give to the Max Day

I was able to garner at least seven little gems from the case study on this event, which was published by The Case Foundation:

1. Easy Asks – A common strategy that Giving Days apply is promoting the event to potential donors beforehand, essentially “prepping” the donor for the ask. With the story having been told through a comprehensive marketing push, participating nonprofits simply said they were part of the Give to the Max Day event. With brand recognition and trust already established, converting donors was much easier.

2. Cross Pollination Wins – Because this was a single event involving thousands of nonprofits, everyone benefited from donors cross-pollinating. For example, a participant who donated to a food shelter might decide to also donate to a local nonprofit that provides job training for homeless people.

3. Competition Wins – Gamification worked really well for Give to the Max Day: the Greater Washington. Grant prizes were given out from a $148,000 award pool to primarily reward nonprofits for the cultivation of the most donors, and secondarily the most money raised. To keep the playing field level, awards were also created for the feather-weight orgs will small annual budgets.

4. Participation as the Goal – What’s unique about Give to the Max Day: the Greater Washington is that the focus was on getting people to donate instead of how much they donated. If your sole focus is to reach a specific dollar amount, donors will get turned off. But if you focus on getting as many people as possible to join the party, it feels like a goal everyone can share.

5. Learning How to Fish From Your Neighbor – If you hold a fundraising event for your organization, it’s up to you and you alone to come up with the strategies and tactics to make it successful (you could also hire a consultant). But if you participate in a giving day, you get to learn from other organizations who bring a wealth of experience in areas where you have a deficit.

6. Reeling in the Brands – Give to the Max Day: the Greater Washington was a well orchestrated community-wide event that almost everyone was aware of–nonprofits, volunteers, potential donors. The cause-marketing potential for this type of event is bigger then if one organization had one event focusing on one cause.

7. Reeling in the Media – Because Give to the Max was a community-wide event, it was able to get the local media’s attention more than if just a single nonprofit was holding an event. They were able to garner appearances and mention in major local media outlets such as the The Washington Post, NBC 4, and WUSA 9.

Download the entire report from The Case Foundation here: How Giving Contests Can Strengthen Nonprofits and Communities

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