Thursday, October 24, 2013

What You Need to Know for Give to the Max Day 2013 – an Interview with Dana Nelson of GiveMN

Three weeks from today is Give to the Max Day—the fifth anniversary of the one-day statewide fundraising campaign. Last year, 4,381 organizations raised $16,391,905 from 53,339 donors in 24 hours, setting Give to the Max records in dollars raised as well as donor and organization participation. The magnitude of donations on Give to the Max Day, when coupled with informed giving decisions, makes for a wonderful opportunity for Minnesotans to help usher in the chance they’d like to see in our state.

We chatted with Dana Nelson, Executive Director of GiveMN, to find out what’s new for Give to the Max Day this year, what the best practices are for organizations new to Give to the Max Day, and who her dream celebrity endorser of Give to the Max Day is. Here’s hoping for a wonderful Minnesota Give Together in 2013!

What do you think has made Give to the Max Day so successful in the past?

A huge part of the success is owed to the nonprofits across Minnesota that take such great ownership of Give to the Max Day.  Every year, more and more organizations build it into their end-of -the year development plan and come up with crazy, zany ideas to promote the day and really have fun with it.

Also, I think we’re all wired to be really competitive, even if we don’t want to admit it. There’s something about the competition of giving—people give more than they might usually, because the get to see their favorite organization climbing up on the leader board. You get to see the impact of your donation alongside the thousands of other donations being made that day.

It’s also a great day to get people involved in giving that maybe don’t normally give, or may be first time givers to charity. A huge goal with Give to the Max Day is to get folks involved that don’t normally give or aren’t normally asked to give.

What resources can organizations access on the GiveMN website to prepare for Give to the Max Day?

We have tons tools for nonprofits and for schools on our website. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for organizations to participate. We have templates available for email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, letters to the editor, radio PSAs, and press releases.

Watch the Everything You Need to Know about Give to the Max Day 2013 webinar – you can skim through it because its pre-recorded. We also have webinars on our website on all aspects of marketing, including maximizing email campaigns, social media, and creating visuals for the web.
To make preparing for the day as easy as possible, we also have a preparation checklist.

Is there anything new GiveMN is doing for 2013 that smart givers and strong nonprofits should know about?

We’ve changed a few parts of our prize structure this year. We have a new leader board just for greater Minnesota, for organizations outside of the metro area. We also have “power hours” this year, which are specific hours throughout the day at kind of crazy times: 2am, 5am, 5pm, 6pm, and 11pm. The concept is that the organizations that raise the most during those hours will win an additional thousand dollars. This is great for organizations that feel like they can’t sustain raising money for the full twenty-four hours, and can just hone in on one of these power hours. 

We’ll have our headquarters at the Mall of America again this year, where we’ll have live streaming coverage that shows up on our site. We’ll interview participating nonprofits and schools throughout the day.

Last year we had principals ride the orange streak roller coaster in Nickelodeon Universe for hours at a time as our little stunt. This year, principles will be swimming with and feeding the sharks in the Sea Life Aquarium!

What advice would you give to smaller organizations running their first Give to the Max Day campaign?

If it’s your first campaign, decide on a realistic goal, and know who you’re trying to reach. You may be reaching different than in your current fundraising. Maybe you have twenty volunteers who work with you on a regular basis, but you’ve never asked them to give. Give to the Max Day is a great excuse to ask new donors for a donation. It’s also a great day to get your board involved in giving, if they aren’t already.

We have some really wonderful and creative campaigns for Give to the Max Day, but if you’re a first timer, you don’t necessarily need to go all out.

Also, don’t forget to steward the donor relationships you get! Sometimes online donors come so easily on Give to the Max Day, but you can’t forget that this is a real relationship, just like a donation you got face-to-face, or from a check in the mail.

If you could get any celebrity to star in the next Give to the Max Day PSA, who would it be and why?

That’s a tough one, but I really like the Hot Cheetos & Takis kids – Y.N.RichKids! I would love for them to do our next PSA! I’ve also always wanted Prince. Maybe a combination of Walter Mondale and Prince—two very different Minnesota icons, together. But I love this year’s PSAs with Janel McCarville and Jeff Locke.

-Matt Beachey, Engagement and Communications Associate

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