On Tuesday, December 1, I had the privilege of not only attending but representing Givelify as the mobile donation platform for TechPoint Foundation for Youth’s #GivingTuesday fundraising event, #Giving(Circle)Tuesday). Being in attendance allowed me to watch people engage with the Givelify mobile giving app for the first time, which turned out to be very beneficial.
From user experience with the Givelify app (special thanks to John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy and Brian Wolff of Gravity Ventures for the valuable feedback) to attendee engagement, there was a lot to observe and learn. Here are four main lessons I learned.
Many fundraisers are time-sensitive in nature, in that you want people to donate at the event while they’re emotionally engaged. Maybe it’s also a function of old habits dying hard, but you might not expect donors to follow through with donations the day or even the week after your event.
Initially the campaign envelope in the Givelify app was set to expire the night of the event. I suggested to the Foundation that they extend the end date a bit into the future. As a result, they saw donations coming in hours after the event had ended and people had gone home. Some gifts were made the next day, turning #GivingTuesday into #GivingWednesday.
I also saw the social proof: donors shared their generosity on Facebook and Twitter well into the next day, spurring other attendees to follow up with their own donations.
Lesson 1: Allow time after your fundraiser has ended for additional donations to roll in. By setting the end date a few days—or even a week—after the event has ended, first-time donors who might not want to set up a Givelify account on the spot can give at their convenience or when reminded by their influencers on social media.
Provide Multiple Giving Methods
When introducing people to a new product or technology at a live event, you can expect a wide range of experiences and expectations. For some it’s a matter of their comfort level with downloading apps rather than using the means they’re already familiar with. There can also be unexpected technical issues like WiFi connectivity or other failures.
Utilizing a mobile giving app is absolutely critical to achieving maximum follow-through. It’s likely that every one of your attendees has a smartphone in their pocket, but solutions like Square are only available at the event. I also didn’t see a single checkbook and very few wallets come out during the appeal, but I did notice the majority of the crowd pull out their phones when prompted to donate via Givelify.
Lesson 2: Don’t leave anyone out. Ensure that you give donors choices with how to give to increase the likelihood and amount of donations. A mobile giving app combined with Square readers and good old checks maximizes your opportunity to reach your goal.
People see the value in something when they can see it in action. I was present to help demonstrate the app and answer questions because the Foundation and their #GivingTuesday event were in our hometown of Indianapolis. A Givelify team member obviously can’t be at every single fundraising event around the country. So how do you get your donors started when you’re on your own?
I took the liberty of introducing the app to the volunteers present, showing them how it worked and giving them a few talking points. I also left instructional postcards for them to hand out with attendee name badges. From the moment people arrived they were greeted with how to make donations.
Lesson 3: Train your staff and volunteers—especially those at the registration table—on the Givelify app so they can promote and demonstrate it to attendees as soon as they arrive. Encourage your event staff to download the app themselves and get experience with it. When your staff demonstrates the app as the preferred giving method, your donors will immediately appreciate the convenience and ease of mobile giving and be inclined to give more freely.
Make Schwag Meaningful
We’ve all seen the same tchotchkes at every event. How many branded water bottles, pens, and stress balls does one person need? As a group that focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for underserved children and young people, the Foundation has done a great job of finding their branding niche. At the registration table and spread out all over the event were small aluminum robots that danced when wound up. The Foundation’s logo was printed on the front. Hey, everyone loves toys, and the robots fit in nicely with their brand.
The TechPoint folks took it one meaningful step further: tied to the wrist of each robot was a tag the size of a business card with a brief explanation of what various gift levels provide.
$150 provides hardware for one student, $500 stocks a classroom with supplies, and $1,000 enables a school to form a robotics team “to tinker, code, and explore the world of STEM.”
Not only did they provide an engaging toy and conversation piece, they quite literally tied it to numbers that show the real results of giving to the Foundation.
Lesson 4: If you’re going to have schwag, make sure it sparks conversation, gives people a fond, lasting memory of the fundraiser, and provides tangible reinforcement of your mission and the results when people donate. (Bonus points if it’s a fun, whimsical toy that earns a place on my desk next to my Labbit and my wind-up sushi.)