Lisa Day, Director of Development & Communications at Lady Eleanor Holles, an excellent independent girls school in Hampton, shares her development team's experience of running a Giving Day.
Why did you choose to run a Giving Day?
We ran our first Giving Day last year to drive awareness of and engagement with our Bursary Fund across every area of our school community. It’s a real ‘moment’ in the school calendar and provides so much opportunity to involve everyone and make them aware of our heritage as a charity school, and the work we do today that honours our founding values that are still so important. As well as providing support to beneficiaries, our Bursary Fund enriches our whole school and supports our commitment to diversity, helping us to celebrate the unique qualities each of us brings to life at LEH.
How will your Giving Day support your bursary programme?
At LEH, every penny raised through Giving Day goes towards supporting a pupil who would otherwise be unable to take their place at the school. Giving Day gives us a fantastic opportunity to talk about bursaries and the life changing impact that they can have. It also helps to create conversation about our Bursary Fund, what it is and the type of support it offers. For example, the majority of our bursary awards are 100% plus, which means they cover things like uniform, iPad, coaches, lunches and key trips in addition to tuition fees. We want everyone to feel confident when talking about the Bursary Fund and the impact it has.
Which challenges and activities did you run on your Giving Day?
It was important for our Giving Day to present different opportunities for people to participate and engage. We wanted to reach and connect with parents, alumnae, teaching and non-teaching staff, and pupils, and so we offered a range of ways to do that. We took learnings from the previous year and introduced some new activities. Our Matched Funding initiative was previously successful, and we continued with this and secured donations ahead of the day that could be unlocked by donations from the school community. We added some more targeted asks as part of this year’s campaign, for example, we had matched funding from alumnae which could be unlocked if we reached a set goal for alumnae donations. It was a busy week at LEH because we were also holding our Jubilee celebrations, but this added to the sense of occasion, and we managed to combine things really well. For example, our staff, including our Head Mistress, took part in a 1950s themed Bunny Hop dance challenge, which was unlocked by donations as part of Giving Day.
Our teachers, parents and alumnae also donated prizes for our auction of promises, and our pupils took part in reading, sporting, baking and STEM challenges, which meant we had lots of activity in school that also helped to encourage donations and spark conversation about Giving Day more widely. The creativity and kindness of people who gave us promises for the Giving Day auction was brilliant and so inspiring. We also held a benefactors’ reception the evening before Giving Day, where an existing bursary supported student and an alumna spoke about the difference that their time at LEH had made to their lives. It was really powerful and moving, and helped us connect our donors to the difference they are making.
How did you use your HollesConnect site to run your Giving Day?
We used Holles Connect to help us plan and develop our communications. All our activity went through our Giving Day microsite, which was great in helping us to keep track of donations as the day progressed. It was easy and efficient to host all of our challenges, donation forms and auction lots via the site and it meant that people could be directed to one place for everything relating to Giving Day. Using Holles Connect also helped with our campaign analysis and evaluation and made the process much more streamlined.
How many donors were first time donors?
We were really pleased that Giving Day inspired so many people to give to our Bursary Fund for the very first time. 49% of people who gave were first time donors.
What is your plan for following up with new and existing donors?
As always, thanking people for donating and being part of Giving Day was our priority. We also want to spend some time looking at the data to identify appropriate and tailored stewardship and follow up engagement. For new donors, we’ll want them to know as much as possible about the Bursary Fund and how their support is helping to make such a transformational difference to the lives of recipients. Now that we are able to hold events again, we’ll look forward to inviting new and existing donors to upcoming benefactors’ events and to making them aware of further ways they can be involved in our work.
How did you promote your Giving Day?
We relied heavily on email and social media to reach and engage parents and alumnae, and we engaged staff and pupils through assemblies and staff briefings. We involved pupils from both our junior and senior school in our Giving Day video content, which also featured our Head Mistress who speaks so passionately about the importance of the Bursary Fund at LEH and how it reflects our values as a school. We sent around 10 emails in the lead up and during Giving Day, and shared content across social to help people outside of school to experience all that was taking place. We encouraged people to share content to amplify our communications.
What are your top tips for running a Giving Day?
It’s important for a Giving Day to feel like something everyone involved in the school can be part of. That means doing different things that are easy and simple to participate in. Connecting people to the cause is so important, so reminding people why Giving Day is taking place and the difference that their donations will make really matters. Data and an agile approach is also important. The more things you try, the more you understand about your community and what works in terms of engagement and drivers for giving. Analysis and feedback are always so vital to help you plan a bigger and better campaign next time. Also, make it fun and memorable so that people want to be part of it again in future.
Thank you to the team at Lady Eleanor Holles for sharing their insight and top tips for running a Giving Day.
Lady Eleanor Holles used ToucanTech to power their Giving Day site, linking directly to their alumni database to store information about donations and engagement throughout the day. To find out more about how ToucanTech can facilitate your Giving Day platform, visit the website to make an enquiry.
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