University Giving Days 101

University giving days are a fantastic way to engage alumni, students, faculty, and more! Learn what university giving days are all about and how to make yours a success.

The Keys to a Successful University Giving Day

University giving days are a growing channel for alumni engagement and higher education fundraising. And one of the keys to running a successful university giving day is a sound strategy for getting former and current students, faculty, and your broader institutional community fired up about philanthropy. 

Learn More

university giving days mocks on laptop and mobile

What is a University Giving Day? A Brief Explainer

Alumni giving can be a bit stuck in the past. Direct mail marketing, calling alumni, and annual gifts that come in at the end of the year dominate university giving. But university giving days are starting to modernize this type of philanthropy. What a university giving day does is moves those donations online, engaging alumni in a creative, invigorating way. And, at the same time, it helps the university acquire new donors, incentivizing giving through matching grants and having enthusiastic alumni encourage their social network to give. The limited time also adds urgency to making a donation, lighting a fire that inspires donors to give now.

University giving days are typically 24-hour affairs. And they’re becoming increasingly popular, with results to back up their popularity. 

Key Components of a University Giving Day

Giving Day Structure

It’s important to determine the Giving Day structure that is going to make your event a success. It may be a little different for each university. And what works for each will depend on their audience and fundraising experience in the past.

Some ideas to build structure into your University Giving Day:

  • Alumni Fundraising Challenge: Encourage alumni to compete against each other in raising funds for the school. You can create groups of alumni by class year, by location of alumni society, by school or department. 
  • Inter-School Challenge: Create fundraising pages for different departments or schools within your University (Law School, Business School, Engineering Department, etc). Allow donors to support the school or department they most directly identify with. 
  • Athletic Challenge: Encourage sports teams to create their own pages to solicit donations from existing athletes family and friends, along with alumni supporters.

Benefits of Adding a Giving Event Structure

Creating a structure beyond a single donation avenue provides numerous benefits. First, it makes the event more exciting to follow along with. Rather than just one overall total, supporters can see where donations are going within the school. Second, it provides donors with an opportunity to make their donation count and support the part of the school they identify most with. Alumni may be much more likely to make a larger gift if they know it benefits their sports team, or the department that they studied in. And finally, it allows for friendly competition to be created between participants that can drive further donations and sharing. 

With the Mightycause Giving Day platform, your event can take advantage of multiple of these structures at a time. Fundraising pages allow for specific departments or athletic teams to have their own goal and donation page to tell their story. Team and event pages allow for groups of individuals to fundraise together and compete against each other, for example: multiple sports teams to compete against each other in a mini-competition within the Athletics department. Group giving pages allow for donors to make their contribution to any participating department, school or team while also having their gift designated for their affiliation (i.e., New York alumni or Class of 1970). 

Matching Challenges and Incentives

One of the key things that makes Giving Days so exciting is the urgency of the 24 hours and the benefits that come with giving within this timeframe rather than (or in addition to) any other point of the year. Adding Matching grants and other challenges provides this additional incentive for donors. 

An Intro to Matching Grants

A matching grant is a large donation that is leveraged to incentivize other donations, by offering to “match” donations. The beauty of matching grants is that they get donors excited about giving… and they’re an excellent way to get long-time supporters and major donors engaged in a way that allows them to do more than simply give. It ramps up their involvement and uses their generous gifts to bring in more than the amount of their donation.

example of matching grants

Mightycause’s flexible matching grants tool allows for all kinds of matches to take place simultaneously. And it tracks and updates them in real time during the campaign. Major Donors can offer dollar for dollar matches (1-1, double and even triple matches), or matches based on meeting a certain threshold of donors or donations. For example, 1,000 unique donors across the Giving Day can unlock a $50,000 matching donation. These matches can be added to a specific team or department’s page, or they can be set to be available in a certain hour of the day. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating excitement and urgency to give all throughout your campaign. 

Engaging Your Ambassadors

Part of the beauty of university Giving Days is the built-in support. You have a robust network of students, alumni, faculty and staff uniquely impacted by the work of your school. They are the perfect audience to amplify your traditional outreach and help spread the word about your campaign. And that’s exactly what the Ambassadors tool on Mightycause does.

The Ambassadors tool allows students, alumni, faculty, and volunteers to sign up as “ambassadors.” Once signed up, the Ambassador gains access to their own landing page within your Giving Day site that allows them to generate a personalized, social media-friendly link to share and solicit donations. And their personal Ambassador page updates in real time to show them how many clicks and donations they generated via their personalized link.

university giving days: screenshot of an ambassador page

This Ambassador page is also a great place to build a toolkit as well, with everything these Ambassadors will need to write social media posts, craft emails, and convince their peers to donate to the Giving Day. 

Day-Of Excitement

Keeping the 24 hours exciting goes beyond just building a structure and adding challenges. You’ll want to keep a conversation going all day long with your current and prospective donors. There are a few key ways to do this, both on and off the Mightycause platform.

On the platform, you’ll have tools built into your event site designed to keep the conversation going and keep the page dynamic. A real-time donor timeline sharing comments and recognizing donors creates the social proof that giving is indeed happening all day long. 

A hashtag-driven social media display board shows the digital conversation happening across social media channels. All those ambassadors that are sharing their links and calls to donate with their network will be driving a continually updating conversation sure to keep the event site fresh.

Finally, a day of online giving wouldn’t be complete without a livestreaming component on your event site. Especially in the post-COVID world that we live now, in-person events and engagements are being replaced or supplemented by moving interaction online. Live streaming is a perfect way to reach your audience where they are. And it’s built for sharing fun and engaging content all throughout the day. Mightycause allows you to build your live-stream right onto your event site! This gives donors even more reason to stay on your site longer and driving further donations. 

Addressing Nonprofits’ Four Biggest Misconceptions About Live-Streaming Video

Meeting Universities’ Unique Needs

University giving days often need custom-made solutions. Many times customization is a necessity, to support their audience and make the administration of the Giving Day more seamless. So, whether you need a data migration project to import donation history, an integration with your chosen payment processor to streamline donation processing, or a single sign on solution to make the log-in and donation process even easier for your donors, Mightycause is here to assist. 

Host an Giving Day