It’s #GivingTuesday season. That special time of year when many of us spend our days snacking on antacids and breathing into a paper bag. Good times!

I feel you. That was me about a year ago when I started to plan Duquesne University’s first-ever Day of Giving. Planning these events can evoke feelings of uncertainty and anxiety – but it was worth it.

Many of you have experienced these months of promotion and stress.  The result is thrilling. You see a Giving Day come together with an outpour of donations that come in from around the world. It’s such a rush to see this avalanche of generosity and how much our institutions means to so many.

Here are five things I learned from my first Giving Day that you might want to incorporate into your game plan.

  • Build momentum on campus first.
    I tried to generate as much excitement on campus first. You want to gain support for the effort with ambassadors before reaching out to donors. I ended up having more than 50 personal meetings. They ranged from school representatives and our young alumni council to office business managers and police officers. I introduced the Day of Giving concept to campus and asked for help. People appreciated the personal attention. I explained the important roles they could play. Momentum started to build. Soon the buzz spread off campus.
  • Create a Facebook group.
    I needed a way to communicate to our ambassadors. We are all inundated with emails.  Our marketing plan was social media heavy, so I decided to create a “Duquesne Day” Facebook group. It was a great way to keep people informed, but I never anticipated its biggest benefit: I asked the group members to invite others, who might be willing to help, to join.  By the time the Day of Giving arrived, the group exceeded 500 members.
  • Signs really do work.
    Many institutions ask alumni and friends to take a picture with their Day of Giving sign and post to social media. Does it actually lead to donations? Yes! One alumna from Atlanta contacted me after the Day of Giving. She said, after all  the promotion she saw for the day, what made her finally decide to give was seeing a photo of a campus chef holding a sign. She said that proved to her  the campus was in and she wanted to be in, too.
  • Launch your Senior Class Giving campaign on the same day.
    The event was a great opportunity to work with our Senior Class Giving committee. Through the Day of Giving concept we educated them about the importance of philanthropy. We helped them develop social media content so that they could serve as ambassadors. Not only did many seniors become donors, but so did their parents.
  • Open the donation period early.
    Even though it’s a “Day” of Giving, we privately opened up the donation period the night before at 10 p.m. An email from our Vice President of University Advancement went out  to our division. The email asked those who would be willing to make a gift to do so before midnight. When the site went live at midnight, potential donors saw we were already off and running.

Most importantly, if you are genuine and enthusiastic about your Giving Day, donors will recognize that. It will be a success. So put the antacid medications away and give the deep breathing exercises a rest. Save that energy for all those thank you notes you will have to write.


David Jakielo is an assistant director of annual giving at Duquesne University.


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