Guest Blog: Phi Delta Theta Days of Giving

Phi Delta Theta achieved great success in donor reengagement and acquisition by live streaming their premier leadership development event, the Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute, over the summer. This allowed the foundation to test a new online giving platform for use in their new Campaign 2030: A Greater Version for Tomorrow before the campaign launches next June.

Read more from Katie Shipp, Director of Annual Giving and Advancement Communications at the Phi Delta Theta Foundation. She can be reached at


Using Giving Days to Create a Culture and Educate your Base

We can likely agree that there are three main issues in fundraising for fraternal organizations:

  1. Lack of education on Foundation purpose
  2. Disengagement post undergrad (“I was a Phi Delt” versus “I am a Phi Delt”)
  3. Chapter first mentality

As we at the Phi Delta Theta Foundation consistently look to ways of combatting these pain points, we decided to make a point of showcasing a Foundation sponsored event to a larger audience.

In conjunction with our summer conference, the Kleberg Emerging Leaders Institute, we decided to host the We Are Phi Delt Days of Giving.  Going in, we had two goals: education and fundraising. We weighed both goals equally in determining the success of our Giving Days.

Now I know giving days are not new to the nonprofit industry or to fraternity and sorority life, and when you look at our end results you may have heard of more successful days of giving. But our plan is different because I was determined that we would only have one area of support: the unrestricted annual fund.

In planning, I started by addressing the pain points. I knew I wanted all the videos to be on education about the foundation, but also feature a student perspective. This made it imperative to discuss with the staffer in the interview how the Foundation aligned with what they were talking about. Education starts internally. We tackled engagement within the name and a short video: We Are Phi Delt. It was a well-produced quick reminder to our alumni about who they are and how Phi Delt plays a role still today. And finally, the big one, chapter first mentality. We approached this by asking a donor to match their chapter brothers’ gifts, and we were transparent that the gifts would go to the annual fund. It was really important that we were overly articulate when stating that these funds would go to the annual fund.

Here are our results:

  1. $65,000 raised for the annual fund.
  2. 712 total donors: 93 new alumni donors; 39 recovered donors from last year; 119 recovered donors from a previous year.
  3. We averaged 2,000 viewers per video and each video explained the correlation between fraternity and foundation mission.
  4. Onsite education of 1,000 undergraduate members on foundation purpose.

While we were satisfied with our results, especially for year one, we did have a few key takeaways that we plan to use to assist us in next year’s days of giving.

  1. We tried to advertise our giving day goal in conjunction with a separate goal of 90% participation to our undergraduates at the conference. This was a bit too much information to process in short conversations and hurt our onsite goals.
  2. Reach on the videos was much greater when we could tag those members in the videos. We plan to line up the live streams earlier and be in touch prior to the event to make those connections online and ensure that tags are possible.
  3. Ensure that you give people time to send checks beforehand. It’s easy to believe we live in a tech world and that people will give online, but we had a significant number of checks roll in after the Days of Giving from people who did not feel comfortable giving online.
  4. When it comes to challenge dollars, don’t be afraid to redirect current dollars in the door. As a purist, I wanted all our challenge dollars to be new money. This hurt us on getting challenge dollars, and we spent a TON of time making those asks. Don’t be afraid to ask your current leadership level donors if you can associate their gift with a challenge.
  5. Ensure everyone on your giving day team understands the platform you are using. We chose to partner with a very user-friendly platform. We did find a few day-of hiccups but learned that those were mainly due to yours truly being the only one who had been in the platform much before the day of. Ensure that you start familiarizing your team with their duties and your entire platform early. Especially if this is something new for your team.
  6. Recruit ambassadors to champion your cause EARLY and OFTEN. Fraternities have some of the largest and most organized volunteer bases. We thought that our volunteers would immediately to hop on board and help us make this event successful – we thought wrong. Ensure that you have as many people on board as possible who understand what you are asking them to do and that they have agreed to do it.

A long list of lessons learned … yes. But we are happy that we learned them because we know that they will help us improve next year and because they are lessons learned, as opposed to failures.