GivingChallenge2015LargeForPrintEvery year we are asked how much money we think local nonprofits will raise in the Giving Challenge through donations, matching dollars, and grant incentives combined.

A really easy answer: we don’t know. The uncertainty is both exciting and anxiety provoking, isn’t it? Anything can happen in 24 hours!

With this year’s focus on new donors from The Patterson Foundation and with other new grant opportunities offered through the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation, Manatee Community Foundation, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the possibilities are amazing to consider.

And although the total amount of money raised can understandably be a focus in the Giving Challenge, so many other positives that benefit our community’s diverse organizations are generated from their strategies and planning.

Here are 10 predictions for the 2015 Giving Challenge:

  1. Donors will see that a $25 gift can really make a difference.
  2. Videos that make us laugh, evoke profound emotions, showcase familiar faces, and feature impact will be created and will spread across social media platforms like wildfire.
  3. Board teams will come together in unprecedented numbers to actually have fun planning their fundraising campaigns.
  4. Some nonprofits will co-design unbelievably creative partnerships that will result in new possibilities for working together in the future.
  5. Business owners will align with nonprofits like never before to help them raise more money, meet more people, and gain more traction.
  6. Nonprofits will use the Giving Challenge to boost their current fundraising campaigns.
  7. Donors will give to organizations they have never before supported, and those organizations will start developing meaningful relationships with them.
  8. Clients of nonprofit programs and their families will be inspired to donate and will encourage others to do the same.
  9. Our community will be know as the “Region of Heartfelt Thank You Notes.”
  10. #GivingChallenge15 will dominate Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

What do you predict for your organization? We hope that enjoying your Giving Challenge campaign planning is in the mix!

Have a great weekend.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


Just the thought of raising money can be a real challenge for many nonprofit board members. And it’s understandable when we frame “fundraising” in limited contexts.  But it’s easier when you think of your board as a team…and maybe even a fun team that is serious about helping your organization thrive. (Newsflash: your board is a team.)

I’m not your biggest sports fan, but I do know that on teams, each person plays a different role. On your board team, some people will feel comfortable making an “ask” while others will never feel comfortable doing so. It’s like asking a quarterback to be a wide receiver. You need both and wouldn’t expect one to perform the same role as the other.

With each Giving Challenge, we search for ways to help nonprofits raise dollars and build their strength. This year we have a new grant incentive, and it’s all about your board. Hint: how can you use the community excitement behind the Giving Challenge to rally your board’s enthusiasm for your mission?

Here are three ways your board can leap into the Challenge:

  1. Commit to 100% board participation in giving during the Challenge. If you’re asking the community to support you during this 24 hour period, it sends a powerful message when your board supports your organization too. Everyone can participate as a philanthropist in the Giving Challenge by donating $25. Last year, 74% of nonprofits indicated that some board members gave to them during the Challenge, and 19% indicated that everyone on the board gave. It would be exciting to see those percentages rise!

  2. Consider all of the ways your board members can be part of your fundraising team: hosting a gathering at their home; enlisting the support of their business; sharing their enthusiasm for your mission with their friends, family and colleagues via email, social media or a letter; thanking your donors. (Check out GuideStar’s recent blog post by Rachel Muir, CFRE for more.) Last year only 28% of board members participated in thanking Giving Challenge donors. That’s an opportunity for growth, and it’s actually fun and meaningful to thank donors.

  3. Evoke that team spirit! Anyone–not just board members–can be more open to fundraising when working together for the benefit of a cause near and dear to everyone on the team, right? Just look at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troope board in last year’s Giving Challenge. They do look like they were having fun. (The board challenged the community with their own match for dollars raised during the campaign.)


Can your board come together with a team spirit to help your nonprofit raise money, share excitement for your accomplishments in the community, and have a good time doing it?

You might just be the right nonprofit to earn one of two $1,000 grants that will be awarded for “Best Board Member Engagement” in the Giving Challenge.  With a positive experience in this campaign, the doors are wide open for a year of more board participation in fundraising.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

inspirenewLast week we kicked off our series of five trainings to get local organizations ready for the 2015 Giving Challenge.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has enjoyed the enthusiasm and anticipation shared among our nonprofit friends as we explain the many opportunities available to engage new and existing supporters.

We talked about some pretty incredible news. The Patterson Foundation will support nonprofits in the 2015 Giving Challenge in two ways: with a 1:1 match for each new online donor’s contributions – up to $250 per donor, per organization–and with $35,000 in incentives for nonprofits that cultivate the highest totals of new online donors. (“New” donors are defined as those who didn’t give to your organization in last year’s Giving Challenge.)  There is no cap on the total dollars The Patterson Foundation will award.


Inspiring new donors to give isn’t light work.

So how can nonprofits make this incredible opportunity a success? Start by considering all of the reasons people might be moved to give and how you can leverage the excitement of the Giving Challenge to convert them to donors.

In our Giving Challenge trainings, we’ve spent some time talking about this great piece from Network for Good’s Fundraising123.org site. How many of the motivators in “The Secret to Getting People to Give: 15 Reasons Why People Donate” can your organization use to build alignment with your cause on September 1 and 2? Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Someone I know asked me to give.
    Use the right people to share a personal appeal for the Giving Challenge with their circles of influence. If my best friend asks me to donate to her favorite cause, for instance, I’m much more likely to say yes than I would be if I received a random email solicitation from the organization.

  2. I feel emotionally moved by someone’s story.
    This is a tempting time to share the Giving Challenge logo with a “give to us” line.  That’s probably the least effective thing you can do. Consider the bank of inspiring stories you have about the difference your organization has made for one child, one veteran, one season ticket subscriber, one senior, one animal, etc. Use these stories!

  3. I want to change someone’s life.
    See #2. Tell a story about how your organization has changed a life–or can change a life–with the support of a donor. Evidence of the difference one donor can make is a big motivator.

  4. I believe supporting your cause is “in style.”
    Have you considered how your organization’s work relates to an important mission-centric issue that’s been in the news lately? Leverage that as you talk with people about how relevant it is to support what you’re accomplishing.

  5. I will have a good community image (or a good image for my business) if I give.
    This year we’re awarding grants to two nonprofits with the “Best Business Partnerships” in the Giving Challenge. What businesses in our community align with your organization’s values? Think of how they can expose your organization to new supporters AND how you can reinforce their brand positioning in the community as a great social steward.

  6. I want to be seen as a role model by giving.
    You can gain extra brownie points by encouraging people to use Facebook or Twitter to share that they made gifts to you during the Giving Challenge. It positions them as leaders and helps you reach entire circles of friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, and others who are distinct from your nonprofit’s insiders.

  7. An emotion–like feeling fortunate or guilty or joy–has motivated me to give.
    When Ann Christiano visited us in January to talk about the power of stories, she also encouraged us to consider the full suite of emotions as we tell our stories. We’ve seen a lot of energy generated in past campaigns around humor, joy, inclusion, hope. How can you use these and other feelings to reach the soft side we all have that compels us to action?

Add to the list!

We’ll post more about this in the coming weeks and would love to add your thoughts and comments.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County