August 15th was the Get The Gifts: Strategies for Optimizing Online Giving Campaigns for Tech 4 Good Denver.  The impressive panel of experts for the forum was made up of  Thea Rounsaville the CSU Assistant Director of Annual Giving, Lisa Lujan the Online Giving Coordinator for Community First Foundation/Colorado Gives Day, and Kim Ruotsala the Chief Development Officer for the Food Bank of the Rockies.  

Tech4Good LogoThough there were vendors like myself in the audience, it was nice that the panel was made up of users and those who were not vendors.  The users were able to talk about the day to day experiences they have with getting online gifts, rather than diving into the specifics of software platforms.  

Giving Tuesday and Colorado Gives Day
Giving Tuesday has become important for many organizations as a day to reach out to donors and make a specific financial ask.  The  Community First Foundation who administers Colorado Gives Day has made a specific decision not to have Colorado Gives Day on Giving Tuesday.  Because of the matching funds for Colorado Gives Day, Colorado nonprofits are tending to ask their donors to set up their qualified donations for Colorado Gives Day on Giving Tuesday so that they will be drawn on December 4th, 2018.  

The Colorado Gives website has made making donations that are set to run on Colorado Gives Day more straightforward for 2018.  These features will be available starting November 1st.  

Other News from the Community First Foundation
The Community First Foundation provides a way for potential donors to find out about your organization and make a donation.  Organizations can have pages.  Groups trying to raise money for your organization can also make pages. It is worth doing a cost-benefit between these pages (credit card processing fees any intangibles) and providing these same features on your own website through CiviCRM or another tool. 

Lisa Lujan brought up the great idea of having a page creation party.  This is a fun way to take the tedium out of making campaign pages.  There could be education on how to make a good page,  friendly competitions,  proofreading, photo and video assets shared, food, beverages, and much more.  It all depends on what is right for your organization.  

Lisa also showed us Kids for Colorado Gives ( where kids can learn about giving to community organizations.  Kids can get online gift cards and then donate that money to causes they care about.  

RAMs Against Hunger
At Colorado State University, it may not be apparent that one in ten CSU students struggles with food insecurity.  The RAMs Against Hunger program is a #GivingTuesday program that has been growing over the last three years to provide meals to those students in need.  

Thea Rounsaville who leads this program provided insight into how she works with her team to build this campaign.  A key goal in 2017 was to increase repeat donors and they doubled their 2016 retention rate in the 2017 campaign.  

Thea talked about showing appreciation for past support, showing the impact of the need, making an assumptive ask,  showing what they (the donor) get, and creating urgency.  The donor does not need to get something monetary, it could be that they a badge for their website, an entry in a content for something donated,  or knowing that their money will be matched if they donate today. 

Say Thank You
All three panelists emphasized how important saying thank you to donors is. Modern technology makes this easy. 

From the DDM perspective modern technology it also makes it inexcusable not to thank donors.  Donors should get an automated receipt as soon as they transact. The transactional email may say thank you but it does not count.  For a smaller donation, an email saying how their money will be used is generally acceptable, handwritten thank you notes, phone calls ranging from volunteers to the CEO. Thank you's do not need to cost money.

One time the Denver Home Builders Foundation sent out cards with art designed by a recipient.  The staff signed the card.  It was so beautiful!  That is a classy way to thank your donors.  

A story was shared today that while working at an organization not represented on the panel someone made a modest donation.  They were thanked by email and they also got a phone call the same day.  The donor was surprised and said that they had made three other larger donations for that Colorado Gives Day and not one of them had reached out.  That night the donor made a second donation for $1,000 to the organization.  

Kim Ruotsala stressed the importance of calendaring out campaigns and giving parts of a campaign a priority.  Knowing when things need to be done to go out by a specific date is important.  It is also important to know who will do what. The third piece of what Kim shared is that it is important to know what parts you can be flexible with.  

The calendar does not need to be anything fancy.  You can use Google Calendar or a program like Trello but you do not need to.  Kim's example is a spreadsheet.  If you are going to use a spreadsheet just make sure it is shared in the Cloud so everyone has access to it.  The advantage to a calendar or project management app is reminders and others scheduling features.  

I could go on much longer for all of the information that was covered in the event.  I will not. I will, however,  recommend you recommend you sign up for the Tech4Good mailing list on the bottom of the page or Like on Facebook or Follow on Twitter.