One-day online fundraising events known as "Giving Days" not only raise millions of dollars for local charities but also help strengthen the community foundations that organize them for the long term, a report from the finds.
The report, (26 pages, PDF), evaluated a Knight Foundation initiative launched in 2012 that helped eighteen Giving Day organizers run forty-nine events over four years and found that the events mobilized the participation of 20,297 nonprofits and engaged 367,495 donors who made more than 600,000 donations totaling some $116.3 million. The report also found that Giving Day events boosted the visibility and credibility of community foundations among donors and nonprofits and helped position them as information and data-collection hubs for their local nonprofit communities. According to the report, 48 percent of the surveyed nonprofits and donors heard about their local community foundation for the first time as a result of a Giving Day, while 36 percent of donors said they made a larger donation as a result of a Giving Day than they would have otherwise.
Conducted by , the research also found that community foundations had identified a number of ways to improve the efficiency and sustainability of the events — reducing costs by not covering credit card processing fees, for example, asking for "tips," teaching nonprofit staff how to raise their own matching funds, and leveraging the events to encourage donors to contribute to other funds administered by the foundation. Nevertheless, some foundations in the Knight Foundation's Giving Day Initiative — particularly those that ran their event as part of a statewide campaign — have stopped running them, while others are more closely weighing the costs and benefits on a year-to-year basis.
"Community foundations are understandably doing some soul searching on whether and how to continue their giving days," said Lilly Weinberg, director of the Knight Foundation's community foundations program. "As they grapple with the future of their campaigns, we hope this report provides them with valuable data on how giving days can benefit community foundations and help ensure a vibrant future for these organizations."