Key takeaways from 2023’s best giving days and how to make yours a success in 2024

University giving days

Year-round fundraising is a crucial aspect of any organization’s fundraising success, but a giving day can bring a community together behind a shared mission like never before. Colleges, Universities, K-12 schools and nonprofit organizations have found success in rallying their supporters towards a 24-hour giving campaign, and campaigns can succeed in generating a large percentage of the annual fundraising dollars.

However, with so many organizations hosting giving days during key moments of the year, it can be challenging to stand out and make a significant impact. Some colleges and universities are well-versed in leveraging giving days as part of their overall fundraising strategy, while others are seeing opportunities for improvement.

What is a giving day?

A giving day (also known as a day of giving) is a 24-hour fundraising campaign designed to rally supporters, both existing and new, around your institution’s or organization’s mission. It creates a sense of excitement, urgency and friendly competition among your community. Giving days are a great way to re-engage donors and attract new ones. They are also an opportunity to showcase your impact and encourage donors to donate more by leveraging donor matching and other incentives.

Spotlight on the most successful giving day campaigns of 2023

Looking for inspiration to make your giving day a success? These success stories are a testament to the power of giving days in fundraising for institutions.

Wake Forest University


Reach and engage an alumni population of more than 80,000 strong to hit giving day goals and identify prospects for continued giving.

Solution highlight

Through a cohesive and integrated platform that included a customized giving day site, AI-powered engagement and personalized video messaging, Wake Forest fundraisers connected with donors at a scale previously unachievable. They also leveraged Gravyty’s AI enablement solution to identify previously unassigned donors, unlocking new revenue.


  • Exceeded giving day donor goal by 14%
  • 95% interaction rate, compared with the industry average of 35.4%
  • $120,000 secured from a previously unassigned donor
Engaging donors at scale

Saint Leo University


Reach 85,000 alumni in a personal and authentic way to reach giving day goals.

Solution highlight

With the power of AI, digital fundraising and omnichannel outreach, Saint Leo fundraisers prioritized their top donors, rallied their network of thousands of alumni ambassadors, engaged personally and at scale, and stewarded and thanked donors beyond their giving day.

“If you can make participants feel proud of your success and the role they played in it, this will hopefully carry over into next year’s campaign, setting the stage for further success.”

John Agnello, Senior Director of University Advancement, Saint Leo University


  • 595% year-over-year increase in giving day dollars
  • 675 total gifts
  • $522,000 raised
AI for fundraising

Augustinian Fund


Find new donors and increase awareness of their mission without an alumni or donor database.

Solution highlight

Through Gravyty’s digital fundraising platform, the Augustinian Fund mobilized giving day ambassadors through targeted stewardship outreach, creating a team of enthusiastic supporters. They leveraged multi-channel engagement to share compelling stories, campaign updates and calls-to-action with their key prospect base.


  • Acquired 900 new giving day donors
  • Raised $480,600 during giving day
  • Plan to acquire at least 1,000 new donors and raise $500,000 in the 2024 Tolle Lege Giving Day
  • Increased staff efficiency by a hundredfold by mobilizing a team of volunteers

“[Gravyty] made it easier for us to onboard new staff and help them be productive from the get-go.”

Sarah Reisert, Associate Director of Engagement & Communications, The Augustian Fund

Giving day ambassadors

University of Northern Colorado


Engage donors, develop major donor pipelines, and foster long-term philanthropic relationships in a more personalized and cost-effective way than their traditional phonathon campaign.

Solution highlight

By combining their crowdfunding, stewardship and pipeline development strategies, UNCo leveraged a synergized donor engagement hub to transform their advancement program over two years.


  • Increased retention of high-level donors, particularly those giving $1,000+ per year
  • $18,000 raised in new or increased giving
  • 3x average gift size year over year
  • Revenue per donor and average gift size highest on record
Digital donor engagement

7 keys to a successful giving day

With proper planning and seamless execution, your day of giving has the potential to bring in a large percentage of your annual fundraising dollars. But running a successful giving day is no small feat. Here, we break down the steps to take for a record-breaking giving day.

#1. Set giving day goals

Without clearly defined and realistic goals, measuring success (and room for improvement) will be difficult once giving day has wrapped. If you ran a giving day last year, take into account previous year’s outcomes and outline key performance indicators of how you plan to measure success this year.

For example, is your top performance indicator dollars raised or number of donors? Perhaps engagement is a high priority metric: do you want to exceed the number of volunteers involved in the campaign over last year or boost social media engagement?

Best college giving day tips

It’s also important the goals you outline follow the SMART methodology:

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve.
  • Measurable: Ensure you can quantify your goals.
  • Achievable: Make sure they’re realistic within your resources.
  • Relevant: Goals should align with your organization’s mission.
  • Time-bound: Set a specific timeframe for achieving these goals.

#2. Tap into omnichannel donor engagement

It’s more challenging than ever to cut through the noise, and reaching donors before, during and after a giving day is critical to the campaign’s success. Concerningly, 45% of Gen Z cite “not being asked” as their reason for not donating to charity.

It’s more imperative than ever for organizations to adopt and leverage an omnichannel donor engagement strategy throughout your giving day campaign. An omnichannel approach is one of the most effective ways to optimize the number of constituents you can engage in any given fiscal year.

Follow these tips for reaching donors through an omnichannel approach.

  1. Understand your donors and their channel preferences. Where do your donors spend their time? What are their preferred communication channels? 
  2. Implement video. Preference for video has skyrocketed, making up 70% of all mobile traffic. Maximize personal connection and boost engagement by incorporating video into your channel mix.
  3. Catch donors’ attention with text. Peer-to-peer (P2P) texting is easy to implement and quick to deliver results. P2P offers an authentic and scalable way to connect with donors personally, making them feel more connected to your organization and likely to become long-term supporters. It’s also backed by data: SMS open rates are around a staggering 98%.
  4. Reach donors before they become donors. One way to ensure you stay top of mind for a prospective donor is to engage them well before the ask. Create a community of donors, alumni and members. Connect with them personally through video and tailored messages. 

#3. Capitalize on donor advised funds

A donor advised fund (DAF) is a specialized financial account designed for charitable giving. According to Chariot, a technology provider that integrates a DAF payment option into giving forms.

And DAFs continue to be one of the most reliable fundraising sources for charitable organizations. National Philanthropic Trust’s annual Donor-Advised Fund Report found that grants from DAFs increased 9% to $52 billion, a new high for grant dollars. Grants from DAFs have grown every year since 2009, and have more than doubled in the past five years.

Concerningly, though, many fundraising organizations are behind in offering this payment option. A study conducted by Gravyty to measure effectiveness of 2023 GivingTuesday campaigns found that none of the organizations that were a part of the study offered DAFs as an option on their giving form.

It’s clear that optimizing your giving experience to include the option of donor advised funds is critical to a holistic, future-ready fundraising strategy.

#4. Fewer clicks for frictionless giving

How many clicks does it take a donor to give to your organization through your digital fundraising platform? Providing donors the ability to personalize gift details is important, but too many clicks can frustrate potential donors and negatively impact results. Gravyty’s 2023 GivingTuesday campaign study found that 32% of organizations studied required five or more clicks to make a gift.

Minimize donor friction with fewer clicks by collecting only the necessary donor information through an intuitive giving experience and mobile giving options.

#5. Boost impact with matching gifts

Corporate matching gift programs are one of the most popular forms of corporate philanthropy for fundraisers to implement. Matching gifts benefit everyone involved, from fundraising organizations and donors, to companies and employees—not to mention the communities impacted by the results. In fact, campaigns that leverage matching gifts raise 3-5x more than those that don’t.

Companies that match employee gifts typically establish a minimum and maximum donation amount that they’re willing to match, though lower-level gifts are often able to be batched to reach the matching gift-eligible threshold.

#6. Retarget for abandoned carts

If not leveraged, donors that abandoned their carts in the donation process is a missed opportunity. Strategically retargeting those donors can have an immediate and direct impact on return on investment and fundraising results.

Gravyty’s 2023 GivingTuesday campaign study found that just 11% of organizations utilized retargeting when donors abandoned their carts though constituents are 43% more likely to convert when retargeted.

#7. Steward new donors beyond giving day

Beyond the day itself, it’s critical to show appreciation for both recurring and new donors that donated on giving day. Gravyty’s GivingTuesday 2023 study found that just 13% of organizations leveraged omnichannel stewardship in the 24 hours following their giving day, and none of the organizations observed used more than two channels to steward donors.

To turn a one-time giving day donor into a recurring donor, create a plan to engage and steward donors well beyond the giving day itself. An omnichannel stewardship strategy allows organizations to show donors appreciation and show the impact of their gift, creates expectations around multi-channel outreach and leads to stronger donor renewal rates.

Choosing the right giving day platform

Digital fundraising platforms can help you host and promote your giving days effectively. Besides giving days, these platforms can also support crowdfunding, annual giving, reunion fundraising, and more.
Key elements to consider when evaluating a giving day platform include:

  • User-friendly and mobile-optimized interface: Intuitive design and interface for both donors and fundraisers, with seamless mobile giving.
  • Branding and customization: Flexible design that allows for customization to showcase your unique brand and messaging.
  • Gamification and digital fundraising thermometers: Gamification tools to drive friendly competition like leaderboards, fundraising thermometers, challenges and heatmaps.
  • Donation processing, recurring donations and matching gifts: Capabilities for a seamless, donor-first giving experience that drives more dollars.
  • Reporting and analytics: Access to detailed analytics and reporting tools to track donor behavior and campaign performance.
  • Reliability: A system that provides no downtime during the critical giving day.
  • Security: Ensure compliance with industry-standard security measures for handling sensitive donor information.
  • Integrations: Ability to integrate with your CRM, email marketing, video, text, payment processors and other relevant software your organization uses
  • Support and service: Availability of reliable customer support during the event period.

Giving days can be a powerful tool for fundraising. The best giving days of 2023 offer us a glimpse into what’s possible when institutions rally their community around a cause. To make your giving days a success, start by setting realistic goals and timelines, get creative with your outreach, engage your community, and leverage the power of digital fundraising platforms.

With the right strategy and execution, your giving days can make a big impact and help you achieve your fundraising goals. Gravyty’s digital fundraising platform lets organizations scale giving days with a seamless, personalized and modern digital fundraising experience. Book your free consultation.