10 Lessons from the Knight Foundation Giving Day Initiative

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Subtitle
How Giving Days Can Work for Your Community Foundation
Publication Date
10/01/14
Program
Communities

On November 20, 2013, 382 Miami nonprofits united to raise $3.2 million, nearly tripling the previous year’s record for Give Miami Day, a 24-hour online giving campaign run by the Miami Foundation. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation was watching; less than six months later, it rallied 677 nonprofits to raise an astonishing $11.4 million in one day through the first-ever Silicon Valley Gives.

View the Complete List of Giving Day Results

Giving days such as Give Miami Day and Silicon Valley Gives are increasing in popularity across the country, and community foundations, as facilitators of philanthropic activity in their communities, are leading the charge. They do so because running giving days inspires the local community to support philanthropic causes, engages new donors, and empowers local nonprofits to fundraise online and use social media more effectively, among other worthy reasons.

But what about the community foundations—does hosting giving days also help them?

With this question in mind, Knight Foundation has experimented with online giving days by supporting community foundations in cities across the United States where brothers John S. and James L. Knight owned newspapers. Through the Giving Day Initiative, Knight sought to know whether giving days could be used to:

  • Grow and democratize philanthropy in the participating communities.
  • Increase community foundations’ visibility and credibility in their communities.
  • Strengthen community foundations by fostering their capacity to raise funds and engage a broader set of donors online.

After a pilot program in 2012, Knight Foundation supported 17 community foundations to run 18 giving days in the fall of 2013 and spring of 2014. In total, these giving days raised $31.8 million for 3,437 nonprofit organizations from 79,886 donors.

Observing that many community foundations have been grappling with the same types of questions about their giving days, Knight made it a priority to facilitate peer learning across communities and to aggregate tools and best practices through the Giving Day Playbook, an extensive online how-to guide for giving day organizers.

This report, “How Giving Days Can Work for Your Community Foundation: 10 Lessons from the Knight Foundation Giving Day Initiative,” distills findings from an analysis of the 2013 and 2014 giving days and is intended to help community foundations determine whether to run a giving day, how to run one effectively, and how to make it more sustainable for your institution.

While we believe the 10 lessons presented here are representative of broader giving day trends, they emanate from the 17 community foundations in the Knight Foundation Giving Day Initiative and should not be viewed as a definitive reflection of other communities’ giving day experiences.

Many questions remain about the long-term value of giving days. As you embark on your own giving day journey, we hope you will benefit from our findings and discover opportunities to create a campaign that best serves your community foundation and community at large.

Meanwhile, the learning about online giving days continues!

Be a part of the conversation by joining our Giving Day Exchange on Facebook, where community foundations can share insights and ask questions of fellow campaign organizers.

Projects discussed in this publication

Giving Day Initiative - Bradenton

To support the Manatee Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Columbia

To support the Central Carolina Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Greater Fort Wayne

To support the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne's use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Myrtle Beach

To support the Waccamaw Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - State College

To support the Centre County Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Wichita

To support the Wichita Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise WCF and art agencies community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Boulder

To support the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Columbus

To support the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Duluth

To support the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Grand Forks

To support the Community Foundation of GF, EGF & Region's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Lexington

To support the Blue Grass Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Macon

To support the Community Foundation of Central Georgia's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - St. Paul

To support GiveMN and The Saint Paul Community Foundation's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Tallahassee

To support the Community Foundation of North Florida's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day support for Gary

To support the Legacy Foundation's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day Initiative - Biloxi

To support Mississippi Gives use of online giving technologies for one year in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Giving Day support

To support the Miami Foundation's leadership role in the use of online giving technologies and to spread the knowledge and best practices they acquire to other Knight community foundations

Online Giving Day Initiative - Miami

To support the Miami Foundation's use of online giving technologies for two years in order to raise their community profile and engage new donors.

Online Giving Technology

To support the Duluth-Superior Area Community Foundation's leadership role in the use of online giving technologies and to spread the knowledge and best practices they acquire to other Knight community foundations

Online Giving Technology

To support the Blue Grass Community Foundation's leadership role in the use of online giving technologies and to spread the knowledge and best practices they acquire to other Knight community foundations

Online Giving Technology

To support the Legacy Foundation's leadership role in the use of online giving technologies and to spread the knowledge and best practices they acquire to other Knight community foundations

About our Communities focus area

We invest in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.

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