Bonus Day How-To From a Bonus Day Winner

I am excited to share a guest post by Marshall Bailly, the Executive Director of Leadership Initiatives, a longtime GlobalGiving partner. Marshall and his team have raised over $50,000 through GlobalGiving matching campaigns. In 2011, Leadership Initiatives’ project came in first place in the June Bonus Day, raising over $28,000 in one day!

Dear GlobalGiving Leaders,

Alexis has asked Leadership Initiatives to present a brief how-to manual for Bonus Days. Below is what I hope is a simple and succinct how-to manual on how we have raised over $50,000 on Bonus Days over the past two and a half years.

We have provided examples where we could and ask that you use them as templates for your own bonus day goals. Please do not copy them directly.

1. Contact your donors several months ahead of time to update their contact information and thank them for their previous support. Leadership Initiatives does not even mention the Bonus Day in this first email. We use it simply to reconnect with our donors and update their information. An example this email can be seen here.

2. Create a committee of committed supporters/staff to help coordinate efforts for the Bonus Day. By bringing in more people as leaders, you are asking others to become more involved in your organization. When they do take on a leadership role, they feel more responsible for making the matching day a success.
With this committee, create firm goals for what you as an organization would like to achieve on this matching day. An example of LI’s goals are located here.

Typical goals should include: the creation of a donor captain team (more on that below), how many donors you would like to reach out to, what your financial goal for the event will be, and how your organization would like to grow from the event.

3. Create a donor captain team. Last year, LI received donations from over 130 people on Bonus Day because we had 10 donation captains each in charge of getting at least 10 people to donate. This allows you to spread the burden of finding so many donors while bringing new people into the organization and allowing them to take a leadership role and become part of the team. LI has each donor captain take a personal goal of at least 10 and we work with them on a financial goal of between 100 and 2000 dollars.

4. Leadership Initiatives also reaches out to clubs and groups to help solicit donations. We recommend you look to college, high school or community groups who support what you do to increase support for the Bonus Day, often times they will take on the role of a donor captain and pledge at least 10 donors.

5. Advertise and build up local, in-country support for the matching day and then showcase that support to your US or UK supporters. Leadership Initiatives has been explaining Bonus Day to our team and supporters on the ground in Nigeria for almost three years now and they are astonished and touched that GlobalGiving offers Bonus Days.

While the $10 minimum donation is often a problem for our in-country donors, we have worked with small groups of on-the-ground donors who create “donation groups” and pledge $10 to $20 in their own currency for the event. Our staff on the ground has been phenomenal about finding local supporters who have paypal accounts and in exchange for the $10 to $20 in their local currency will send paypal money to newly created paypal accounts for each donation group, who in turn donate on matching days.

This allows our team on the ground to energize local supporters and donors and create a community experience. LI often holds paypal sign up days twice before a matching day and holds a massive donation drive the day of the event.

LI also showcases this local support to potential donors in the US/UK highlighting to them the commitment and affect LI is having on the ground. LI donors have said they have doubled or even tripled their expected donation amount because of how touched they have been when reading about this in LI newsletters or Bonus Day emails or speaking with our supports on the ground through skype.

6. Two to one month before the event, LI sends out a letter or email detailing the event our goals for it to potential donors. In the letter format, LI often includes a physical item such as a magnet that holds the event details and will be a constant reminder to the potential donor about the event. Please see this letter as an example and this jpeg of our magnet as an example of our physical reminder.

7. One week before the event, send a more informative email reminding everyone how important the event is. Include specific goals and what you will be able to accomplish if you achieve these goals. Please see this letter as an example.

8. The day of the event, send out one more email around 9 or 10 am EST as a gentle reminder to your donor captains to follow up with their pledged donors. LI also sends the names of people who have donated to our donation captains so they can confirm the people that pledged donations to them have donated.

9. Always send thank you emails showcasing the importance of your supporters’ donations and sharing what you have achieved as a community. This bridges the gap between your supporters, your program/project participants and their locally community supporters. See this letter as an example. This way you will have continued donation support for years to come.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at

Wishing you the absolute best this matching day!


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