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Georgia Gives Day 2015: Bringing Our State Together

Four years ago, GCN launched an ambitious start-up designed to spark a statewide giving movement: Georgia Gives Day, an online giving platform and fundraising campaign mobilizing organizations, businesses, government agencies, and citizens to raise awareness and support for our communities’ nonprofits. This year, in addition to a record-breaking level of generosity, we made good on our 2015 theme: bringing the state together “For the Greater Good.”

“We love seeing Georgians take this unique opportunity to rally around the sector,” said GCN President and CEO Karen Beavor, “and we love how it inspires our nonprofits to reach out and get creative.”

Below, some highlights of the good we accomplished by joining forces for our annual flash mob of giving.

MEDIA PARTNERS FOR THE WIN

This year, media coverage of Georgia Gives Day grew to unprecedented heights. Thanks to our media partners, we secured 111 media placements across the state—in print and on billboards, as well as in PSAs running on television, radio, and online. In the weeks leading up to Nov. 12, a series of weekend segments on WSB-TV’s People 2 People helped build the momentum, highlighting the important work of Next Generation Men, Pebble Tossers, and Enduring Hearts.

Also adding to the buzz: our Twitter kickoff party, hosted for the second year by WSBTV. News anchor Dave Huddleston led an online conversation resulting in more than 2,000 mentions, putting #GAgivesday on Twitter’s trending topics list.

As Georgia Gives Day dawned, WXIA-TV’s 11Alive morning news added to the giving momentum with three hours of early morning coverage—one hour more than in 2014—including multiple updates throughout the broadcast, as well as “Golden Ticket” prize-winner announcements and other highlights on their social media channels.

Later, WSB anchor Linda Stouffer stopped by GCN headquarters for some midday coverage, while meteorologist Brad Nitz gave a Georgia Gives Day-themed forecast. In addition, Amy Robach and Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America starred in PSAs encouraging Georgians to give.

 

SPONSORS AMPLIFY GIVING IMPACT

Thanks to the generosity of this year’s corporate partners, including the Arby’s Foundation, Chick-fil-A Foundation, CocaCola, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Georgia Natural Gas, State Bank, and Wells Fargo, we were able to award 75 different prizes to participating nonprofits, ranging from $500 to $5,000.

The Max My Gift Challenge, a new program this year sponsored by Popmoney, incentivized nonprofits to seek out partners who would match Georgia Gives Day donations, amplifying the power of each gift. More than 30 organizations took that challenge, including The Methodist Home for Children and Youth, whose employees raised a $10,000 matching challenge gift, and New American Pathways, which secured $7,500 in matching donations from SunTrust and the Bryans Family Foundation, and ended up raising more than double their $10,000 goal.

The SunTrust Foundation, dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations that provide financial well-being programs, awarded $50,000 to more than 50 organizations on Georgia Gives Day through their returning Financial Wellness Challenge. The $5,000 grand prize went to Enduring Hearts for their work helping families financially plan to meet the costs of pediatric transplant surgery.

MOVING THOUSANDS TO ACTION

Beyond the goal of raising dollars, Georgia Gives Day is a prime opportunity for nonprofits to “friend-raise,” motivating their cause champions to spread the word and inspire new donors. According to our donor survey, this year’s event was a first-time giving experience for 8 percent of donors, and 14 percent of donors gave to a nonprofit they had never given to before. Our top prize rewarded organizations who mobilized the greatest numbers of donors; this year, that organization was Angels Among us Pet Rescue, which netted 804 unique donations over $25.

But how exactly did Georgia nonprofits inspire thousands to give on Nov. 12? Compelling online campaigns drove the day: Nearly half of GAgives.org traffic came from social media. We witnessed many organizations find creative ways to engage supporters online as the day progressed; the images shared here represent just a fraction of the efforts that went into this year’s campaigns.

Wesleyan College, whose mascot is the Golden Heart, encouraged their followers to “join the gold rush” by donating on Georgia Gives Day. Atlanta Pet Rescue, while using adopted and adoptable pets to tell their story, also featured local police officers helping share the message. Girls Inc. Atlanta motivated donors with a combination of graphics and photos starring staff, volunteers, and kids holding branded signs stating their reasons for giving in straightforward terms: “I give so girls can BEAT THE ODDS.” The Jasper County Mentor Program highlighted their mission impact through touching photos of mentors and mentees. Live Arts Theatre asked supporters for personal stories expressing the value of theater, and to share those stories through their own social media accounts to encourage friends to give.

Georgia Military College Foundation rallied followers around specific times of the day to take advantage of our Power Hour prizes and an anonymous donor who offered to match $10,000 in donations during the 10 a.m hour. They also reached out “offline,” putting up signs around their campus encouraging visitors to donate (while being sure to post photos of the signs on Facebook).

Celebrities joined in on social media too, with messages of support coming in from Debra Messing, Usher, Jane Fonda, and Michael B. Johnson, as well as Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal.

And dozens of organizations jumpstarted their campaigns ahead of the day by encouraging supporters to post a #GAgivesday unselfie, illustrating the reason they give, as part of our annual contest. (More than 1,500 voted on the top 10 unselfies selected by GCN, ultimately awarding the top prize to Canine Assistants. Special thanks to Giv360 for sponsoring the contest and providing the prize.)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS!

Georgia Gives Day 2016 will be Thursday, Nov. 17, and it’s never too early to begin planning. Start by saving the date, and making sure the rest of your team is thinking about it too: We’ve seen first-hand how working the big day into your annual fundraising plan pays off. It’s our goal to make sure every nonprofit in the state is ready to mount a great campaign and come away a winner, so let us know how we can help you make your vision for Georgia Gives Day 2016 a reality.

Meigan Brennaman is marketing communications manager at GCN.

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