For the past 15 years, nonprofit and higher education organizations have been lagging behind in the latest fundraising tactics, strategies and technologies for online giving. This is not surprising considering fundraising for these institutions has traditionally been centered around major gift fundraising, requiring face-to-face engagement with major donors. However, when you look at the 2015 distribution of #GivingTuesday online donations by sector, Higher Education tops the list, falling second only to faith-based organizations. This highlights the incredible opportunity these institutions have to meet their supporters and donors where they live – online.

Whether you are looking to launch your first #GivingTuesday campaign or exceed your goals from last year, here are 4 ways institutions  can use the latest giving channels to get the most out of this year’s #GivingTuesday.


  1. Social Media Challenge


#GivingTuesday is fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. When this movement is paired with the right strategy and technology, you’ve got a great opportunity to significantly drive donations online. Higher education institutions have an advantage over many nonprofits in that they have a captive audience at their fingertips – the student body. Current students and young alumni are too often overlooked when it comes to soliciting donations and #GivingTuesday is a great way to change that.

Start by recruiting “social ambassadors.” These are highly involved students with strong social media followings. Leverage their social reach and influence by empowering them with their own peer-to-peer fundraising pages and goal amounts. On #GivingTuesday, have them execute a planned social media blast by posting a picture with a caption highlighting how they donated to give back to their school on #GivingTuesday (don’t forget the hashtag) and also have them tag 3 friends challenging them to give back too! Add a bit of competition by organizing the campaigns by specific college, department, or even graduation year.

Universities, higher education, institution online giving


You could also utilize text giving for this specific ask – have your social ambassadors also tweet out or post on Facebook, Instagram, etc the text number and the specific keyword for their unique campaign (for example, #Classof2015). Since social media is mostly done over mobile devices, your organization should offer an easy, phone-friendly instant giving solution, like text giving, right at the point of inspiration to help supporters, students and alumni complete the donation process.

Universities, higher education, institution online giving


You may want to consider asking your social ambassadors to make sure one of the three friends they tag is a recent graduate. This is a great way to tap into your recent alumni network. Post hourly updates from your university’s social media accounts displaying the status of the overall campaign with a goal meter to show progress. The more creativity you put behind the campaign and the more social ambassadors you leverage, the more success your campaign will see.


  1. Run an “Adopt My School” Program


#GivingTuesday is one of the best ways to get your local community involved with your organization. One way to do this is to ask a local business to “adopt” your nonprofit or institution for #GivingTuesday. Consider choosing a business that your student body frequents such as a coffee shop or bookstore. Ask the coffee shop to donate a portion of each cup of coffee sold on November 29th, #GivingTuesday 2016, and also encourage their customers to do their part and donate too! Include signage and copy at the bottom of their coffee receipt asking them to donate by text. You can also display a live goal meter at the register for both the coffee shop employees and the customers to see their impact in real time.

Universities, higher education, institution online giving

Another way to execute this program is by involving a company with a corporate office near your university. Work with their HR department to set up a competition between departments. Create peer-to-peer fundraising pages for each department and on November 29th, email employees directing them to their respective department’s page to make their donation. The department who donates the most on #GivingTuesday wins a jeans day or a half day! Don’t forget to leverage corporate matching if possible. Competition is one of the strongest ways to motivate giving, especially when restricted to a 24 hour period like a giving day.
Universities, higher education, institution online giving


  1. Leverage Virtual and In-person Support


Hosting an in-person event on #GivingTuesday is a great way to see a virtual movement in action. Be careful not to jump to the conclusion that someone must donate financially in order to participate in the giving day. #GivingTuesday is all about finding a way to give back, whether that’s your time, a donation, or even your voice to spread awareness.

Consider hosting a book drive on campus.  Create an event page online and invite current students, alumni, and the community to attend and encourage them to bring a book to donate. Your alumni network likely extends far beyond your university’s physical location, so leverage virtual support by giving those who are unable to attend an opportunity to give. For example, a $15 donation could provide one book to a student in need or a $100 donation could go towards funding student scholarships. Create a landing page outlining 3-5 suggested giving amounts and equate each one with the impact it provides. On #GivingTuesday, direct those donors to your landing page so they can make their donation. Include a goal meter both online and displayed at your book drive event to show the success of your campaign to both audiences. You could also take this one step further by making it a competition between classes. See which class can raise the most money for student scholarships on #GivingTuesday.


  1. Take Advantage of the iPhone 7 Release


The iPhone 7 and 7 plus made their debut on September 7th of this year. Within one week the iPhone 7 plus had completely sold out and only limited versions of the 7 were available. With every new phone in hand, an iPhone 4, 5 or 6 is retired. Rather than letting those phones waste away in a drawer at home, why not encourage your donors to donate them to you?

Universities, higher education, institution online giving

When partnered with iDonate, your donors can give in unique and impactful ways and we handle the entire liquidation process on your behalf. Asking for noncash assets is a great way to cater to donors cross-generationally. Your cash-strapped current students and young alumni can donate their old iPhone just as easily as a more mature alumni or even a major donor. Create a landing page explaining the donation process and the impact their old iPhone will have on their university. Take advantage of this largely untapped pool of capital by running an “iPhones for Scholarships” campaign this #GivingTuesday.

Universities, higher education, institution online giving

Want to see more ideas for #GivingTuesday 2016?

Fill out the form below to watch the official 30-minute #GivingTuesday webinar replay with Amanda Pitre, CFRE and Director of Nonprofit Consulting and Asha Curran from #GivingTuesday now.