Stand Out from the Year-End Giving Crowd with #ILGive

Gather new donors, engage the old: How nonprofits can maximize year-end giving season with #ILGive Tweet This

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End-of-year appeals are a fundraising standby—and recently, Giving Tuesday has emerged as the unofficial kickoff of everyone’s giving season. This means many nonprofits competing for the same donors, at the same time.

Luckily for those of us in Illinois, we have a unified campaign to help organizations coordinate and leverage this opportunity: #ILGive, led by Forefront.

Kathleen Murphy, Forefront’s director of communications, and Caleb Gardner, founder of 18 Coffees, joined forces at a recent meeting of Chicago’s NTEN Tech Club to discuss ways nonprofits can make the most of November 28, while truly standing out from the crowd.

Caleb Gardner and Kathleen Murphy stand at the front of a conference room, facing an audience and smiling

At a meeting of NTEN Tech Club, Forefront’s Kathleen Murphy (right) coached nonprofits on making the most of the #ILGive fundraising opportunity, while Caleb Gardner of 18 Coffees (left) sketched out a sample activation plan.

First, Murphy advised the nonprofit professionals in the audience to be sure they’re seizing the opportunity #ILGive presents. “This should kick off your campaign and allow you to gather new donors and engage old ones,” Murphy explained.

Last year, #ILGive saw donors give over $11.3 million to Illinois nonprofits—all online, all in one day. This momentum makes #ILGive a powerful opportunity to get new eyes on your mission, engage existing supporters and raise essential funds to advance your mission.

Participation starts with registering at, where organizations fill out a profile with their details. Murphy advised nonprofits on how to go beyond the basics to create a “killer profile”:

  • Use all the space on your profile page to tell your story.
  • Be authentic, making sure your story evokes the emotional impact of your successes.
  • Center your story around a person, then support it with data that shows how a donation can make an impact.

Caleb Gardner from 18 Coffees reminded the audience that giving starts, and ends, with relationships. This was a great reminder for all of us: If we don’t have an audience that is engaged, it doesn’t matter how much we push out social media content or online appeals.

To keep our network engaged, we need to understand who they are and what motivates them to draw closer. So, Gardner advised, look closely at your data to understand what your network responds to, and what triggers them to make a donation.

And don’t forget to engage all your colleagues as messengers and ambassadors: their reach is wide, and they can speak about your organization’s work with authenticity and passion.

Gardner sketched out what a smart cadence could look like for making the most of #ILGive:

Planning & pre-selling
2 months in advance
Take stock of all your assets: your email list, your social media following, and your influencers—those willing to pitch in and support or amplify your message.

Announcing and recruiting
6 weeks in advance
Set up and push out email communications, thunderclaps, calendar invitations—whatever outreach tactics work for your organization—so that when #ILGive day arrives, your supporters take action.

Priming the pump
1 week in advance
Re-engage all your stakeholders, getting them cued up and ready to share.

Launch day!
Reap the rewards of all your planning, and the equity you’ve built, with an awesome #ILGive campaign.


Ready to plan your organization’s Giving Day? has even more resources for you:


501 Tech Club is program of NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network. NTEN provides nonprofit professionals with technology trainings, research and a vibrant and supportive community.