Running Up (and Over!) That Hill: Coaching for Giving Day Success

Take the Hill

As a runner, I spend many hours training for challenging hills – the largest of which I tackled in the 2022 Delta Dental Mount Washington Road Race. The slogan for that race is “There’s Only One Hill!”  It was hard, but fun and worth the work. I use it here as a metaphor to help you achieve giving day success with some coaching from hill-running.

During training, some of the most effective coaching advice I use is to “run through the crest of the hill”. In other words, keep pushing when you are tempted to back off even if the terrain beckons with a descent. After New Hampshire Gives, is your nonprofit team prepared to run through the crest of the hill on June 8? If you do, it will have great benefits for you on that day and on the fundraising hills that follow.

Giving Days are equally celebrated and questioned by professional fundraisers. If an organization has a significant “megaphone” (think public broadcasting, major food banks or national brands that have access to billboards and bus sides), it is a day that could generate a significant influx of tens of thousands of new, relatively small donations from new or lapsed donors.

On the flip side are small to mid-size organizations with modestly sized databases. For these, there can be pressure from Board members and executive teams to spend a lot of time administering Giving Day preparation without an accompanying investment in broad communications. Many of these organizations end up with the Giving Day as a vehicle for donors who are planning to send support anyway – thereby not serving to generate significant new leads for the fundraising pipeline.

Make the Most of the Climb

Debates regarding the type and amount of return on investment from Giving Days aside, and regardless of the size or structure of your organization, the most significant action for nonprofit teams is to power through the crest of the giving day hill: the morning after the giving day closes. Here are four suggestions to do just that:

  1. Even though you are tired, make personal calls to – do not email – as many donors as you can in the first half-day following the Giving Day’s close. A quick thank you phone message will make a significant impression and it will surprise you to see how many folks pick up! Assemble a Gratitude Team to get this done. It’s fun and memorable.
  2. Keep the dialogue open, despite fears of oversaturation. Make a huge deal about however much is raised and be specific about the impact. Video testimonials are an inexpensive and easy way to communicate the impact of the financial results!
  3. Make an actionable plan to communicate with your donors again two weeks after the event. It will remind them that you share their values and continue to be grateful. This can be an email or newsletter mention that includes a call to action. Perhaps invite them to join a meetup with other donors, or to meet your programs team. Do whatever you can do to keep the relationship active for both you and the Giving Day Donors. The morning after Giving Day is when your mind is the most focused on the topic.
  4. Recover. Once you are done with 1-3, take a break. Resting your body, heart, and soul is the best way to lay the foundation for the next climb.

Let’s Talk!

If you’d like to talk more about Giving Day Climbs, Major Donor Triathlons, what feels like Put Some Gravel in Your Travel events management, or any non-sports related fundraising metaphors, click here to set up a time to visit. I will look forward to learning about what you have on your mind.