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How The City Mission Found Award-Winning Success on Giving Tuesday

Last year they reached their Giving Tuesday goal by noon. This year, they raised $45K in 16 hours.
The City Mission Featured Image - Giving Tuesday Success

Last year on Giving Tuesday, one of our GiveWP customers made such a significant impact with their campaign that it ultimately won them an award. So, we reached out to find out how you can recreate their success.

This case study outlines how The City Mission, a past GiveWP-a-Thon participant and long-time GiveWP customer, nearly tripled their target for online donations in 2018. Their campaign did more than raise a lot of money, it made an impact in their community and won them an .Org Impact Award for the best Giving Tuesday campaign.


What Was The City Mission’s #TeenSuiteTuesday Giving Tuesday Campaign?

We first introduced The City Mission’s Giving Tuesday campaign when we were searching for the best fundraisers from our customers last year. The goal of their Giving Tuesday campaign in 2018 was to create a space for teens to hang out in their Women’s Shelter, Laura’s Home. Previously there was only a space for kids of all ages, making it awkward for teenagers to get time to themselves or hang out with friends.

Campaign Goals and Results

The City Mission set out to raise $5,000 in online donations with a $5,000 matching donation commitment from Bravo Wellness. In the end, they far exceeded their goals with a grand total of $13,065 in online donations and $5,000 from Bravo Wellness.

The blue ribbon was cut in a ceremony by a local teen boy accompanied by an adult while standing in the doorway to the new room.
Now teens have a place to hang out in Laura’s Home.

In comparison with 2017, The City Mission went from 53 Giving Tuesday donors to 104 total donors. Their average gift also grew from $97 to $125. Overall, they raised $11,500 more in 2018 than they did in 2017. We don’t know about you, but we certainly wanted to know how they did it.

Double Your Donations This Year: The City Mission Amount of Donations 2017 - 2018. 2017: $6,565; 53 donations; $97 average donation. 2018: $18,065; 104 donors; $125 average donation.

With 104 total donors, only 74 had given in the past. Meaning, 30 new donors were gained on Giving Tuesday who had never given to The City Mission before.

Gain New Donors on Giving Tuesday. The City Mission Giving Tuesday 2018 Results. Total Donors: 104; New Donors: 30 (28.8%); Returning Donors: 74 (71.2%).

Lessons From the Past Guided Planning

When it comes time to plan any large event, like a Giving Tuesday fundraiser, past experiences are crucial. They provide insight on how your donors respond to events like this. For The City Mission, their past campaign results were vital to how they approached the 2018 Giving Tuesday campaign.

Looking back at 2016 and 2017

As it turns out, between 2016 and 2017, The City Mission also saw major increases in giving on Giving Tuesday. They attribute part of their success to using GiveWP. But, their unique approach to fundraising is what mattered the most.

In 2016 we did not meet our goal, and realized that the program we were raising money for was too new, and too complicated to understand – especially for new donors, or donors that do not have a deep knowledge of the expanse of our programs.

Our 2017 campaign proved to be much more successful, and we can at least in part credit our transition to GiveWP three months prior for that win. That time around we picked a much more specific item – bunk beds for our men’s program – and offered a partial matching gift, to raise over $6,500.

The didn’t just switch their online donation platform, they also simplified and clarified their Giving Tuesday fundraiser. In 2017, they weren’t trying to fund an entire complicated program. Instead, they asked for a single item. One that every human should have access to: a bed. Donors are often more comfortable giving when they can understand exactly what their money will be used for.

Approaching the 2018 Campaign

Caroline Stoltzfus, The City Mission’s Content Marketing Specialist, had a personal goal this time around. She wanted to take their campaign one step further. It isn’t enough to simply help the homeless. It’s important to also educate the public about homelessness. This goes to the root of the problem.

A personal goal of mine in fundraising is not simply to go for the easy wins by talking about feeding and sheltering people, but to educate supporters on the real, complex struggles and needs of people trapped in the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

With this desire and the lessons from 2016 and 2017 in mind, we decided to pick a child-focused cause and increase our goal to $10,000. When asking our Pathways Family Services staff what need we could meet with $10,000, they immediately shared the need for a space for teens at Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center.

Who can ignore a child who has no place to go? Why not aim high for a whopping $10,000? With a solid storytelling strategy, Caroline would have no problem successfully marketing this campaign.

Additionally, in 2017, their matching gift was mentioned by many donors who chose to give. So in 2018, their number one priority was to find another matching gift to get them halfway to their goal. That in mind, they reached out to Bravo Wellness, who had sponsored their Christmas Party at Laura’s Home in the past. Instead of a party, The City Mission presented the idea of a matching donation for Giving Tuesday.

Their reaction was amazing! They thought this goal was a great fit for their focus on wellness, and quickly said yes. I was able to work closely with a member of their team to produce some videos and photos featuring their employees and why they wanted to partner with us.

Long before Giving Tuesday, The City Mission had identified problems and successes with their past campaigns, crafted a narrative and goal for that year, and found a matching gift partner. They succeeded because they planned ahead using past lessons.

Another crucial step they took was starting their planning process well in advance. When last year’s campaign wrapped up with a post-campaign analysis, they started to take a look at the year ahead.

It’s important to start planning your Giving Tuesday campaign as early as possible. It’s even better to begin right after the previous year, with an analysis of your campaign and a brainstorming session on how to improve. Then, give it some time and come back to it when you plan your fundraisers for the next year. Make sure you don’t wait until November to begin planning.

Pre-Giving Tuesday Content Marketing Was the Key to Success

It’s no surprise to us that storytelling was the cornerstone of their campaign and that it worked. Leading up to Giving Tuesday, The City Mission did three important things they say were the top motivating factors:

  • Secured The Bravo Wellness Matching Fund
  • Paid for Digital Advertising
  • Released a Content Article in the Local News

Why Matching Funds Work

When seeking a matching fund, it’s important to make sure goals and values are the same. Bravo Wellness is a company whose values align with those of The City Mission. Their focus is “inspiring people to achieve their personal best.” So, it was only natural that they would jump at the chance to shift their Holiday Party budget to this Giving Tuesday Campaign.

Matching funds also help inspire individual donors. New donors might come from joint marketing efforts. They could even come from that company’s customer base. Or, knowing you’re already halfway to your goal might just inspire others to give more.

The kids who benefited from the matching donation, wrote a Thank You note to Bravo Wellness. Each of them signed it and hung it on the door.

Why Paid Digital Advertising is Worth It

Paid digital advertising is something that not a lot of nonprofits are comfortable investing in. However, it’s worth it when you approach it correctly. In this case, it really helped The City Mission accomplish their goals.

Why and How Your Nonprofit Should Advertise on Facebook:” We’ve covered a little about why you should invest in paid advertising on Facebook in the past. This article highlights why storytelling is the best kind of content to promote and how to successfully run Facebook ads for your nonprofit.

How Storytelling Brought It All Together

Every Giving Tuesday campaign needs a strong backbone: a great story. The City Mission did a great job of wrapping their campaign in a blanket of knowledge. They educated their community in advance.

We ran a content article on Cleveland.com about the state of teen homelessness in America (and in our city) ,the entire month of November. So, when #GivingTuesday came, people were primed with knowledge about just how impactful this campaign could be.

After The City Mission told their community of the issue, they announced their Giving Tuesday campaign. And it introduced a solution to the heartbreaking story they just told. Then, they asked everyone to help them accomplish it. These are the three pieces of storytelling we mention in our Giving Tuesday Workbook.

Group of teenagers standing in front of a wall that says ‘Transformed.’
hese are the real-life teens that this campaign impacted.

Why Not Ask for More Matching Funds and Business Involvement?

We also asked if The City Mission reached out to any other local businesses to endorse or contribute to their campaign. They said,

We did not reach out to other businesses, city officials or local leadership. We also wanted to keep as much focus on Bravo Wellness as a leader in this charge, so we did not solicit other business.

It’s important to note how successful this method was. If you find yourself asking too many businesses to sponsor or contribute matching funds, they might get deterred. The focus should be clear. Plus, you want to find a business who is truly dedicated to your cause.

The Day of Giving Tuesday at The City Mission

After all the planning and preparation this organization did for Giving Tuesday, they reached their goal by noon. Incredibly, they nearly doubled their overall goal by the end of the day. Caroline recalled in particular how warmly the donors responded to the campaign with comments of support. Here’s what she told us…

“The entire day was a blessing to our staff and clients! We were overwhelmed by the positive reaction of the community, had fun creating update posts, participating in the GiveWP-a-Thon live chat, and reporting to the kids and Pathways staff.

Perhaps the most special part of the day was reading notes about the campaign from donors. After people make a gift on our website we have a place for them to write about what inspired their gift. Notes like these kept us smiling all day:”

  • This is my favorite charity and I donate as regularly as possible. The teen area sounded like a great idea and I wanted to make sure you were able to maximize the matching gift.
  • As a troubled youth, I now have compassion for those going through rough times.
  • LOVE local efforts to make our communities better!
  • Read an article about how many homeless teenagers there are in Cleveland and it broke my heart. I’m struggling financially, but I still have a roof over my head and food on my table, and I just wanted to help a little bit.
  • Long term supporter and getting 2 for 1 sounded too good to pass up.
  • I believe that teens are severely under appreciated in our society. They have ability, intelligence, creativity and outlooks that are vastly different than an adult. It is our responsibility to support them in any way we can – big or small – it all matters.

In response to all the love and support they received on Giving Tuesday, The City Mission posted a video as a “Thank You” to their online donors.

Giving Tuesday 2019 Turned to Blitz Friday for The City Mission

Not every major campaign needs to be on Giving Tuesday. While the City Mission is planning a 5K and 1 mile walk event for Giving Tuesday, one of their biggest campaigns of the year just ended.

This campaign was much more exciting even than last year’s Giving Tuesday Campaign!

The Blitz Against Homelessness: Nonprofit Competition and Raffle

In an amazing twist of events, when we reached out, The City Mission was in the middle of a big campaign they planned with another organization this year. It’s called The Blitz Against Homelessness. Light of Life in Pittsburgh and The City Mission in Cleveland both set out with a goal of $10,000 and a timeline to beat the other to it. On November 14, 2019 anyone could donate to either organization to enter to win a raffle. The prize was a Browns Jersey for The City Mission donors and a Steelers Jersey for the City of Light Donors.

In the end, The City Mission won with an impressive amount of $45,620 in just 16 hours. Light of Life also completely out-raised their goal, but fell shy of winning with over $24,000.

The Blitz Fundraising Competition. The City Mission vs. Light of Life. Goal: $10,000. The City Mission: $45K Light of Life: $24K.

Once again, goal alignment and remembering their audience were key factors involved in their success here. The organization they partnered with has a very similar mission to their own, but in a different town. Giving away a Browns Jersey and a Steelers jersey for each city is also a smart move since both cities have a home NFL team.

Advice for Giving Tuesday Fundraisers from The City Mission

By now, we can all agree on one thing: The City Mission knows how to fundraise. So, we asked them for some final advice for anyone planning a Giving Tuesday fundraiser.

  1. Pick a VERY specific, easy-to-understand project to fund.
  2. Budget at least $100 for Facebook advertising on Giving Tuesday. If possible, use more money for the days or weeks leading up to Giving Tuesday.
    1. Create specific day-of ads for #GivingTuesday: This is the best way to reach new donors and keep your organization top-of-mind.
    2. Use storytelling and create a narrative.
  3. If possible, secure a matching gift. You never know what a business or individual might be willing to offer if they have a strong connection to your mission. They might even just love your #GivingTuesday campaign and want to inspire others.

Download our Giving Tuesday workbook for checklists, email templates, and meeting agendas for your own Giving Tuesday campaign.

Go to the Giving Tuesday Workbook

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