Mitzvah Monday: A One-Day Fundraising Initiative
By Reisha Goldman, associate director, digital marketing, UJA-Federation of New York, and Levi Fishman, communications coordinator, UJA-Federation of New York
On Monday, June 24, 2013, UJA-Federation held its second annual Mitzvah Monday campaign, a one-day fundraising initiative. The campaign is part of UJA-Federation’s continuing efforts to find innovative and meaningful ways to support our mission and engage new donors via digital channels, such as social media.
All funds raised on Mitzvah Monday were in support of UJA-Federation’s 2013 Annual Campaign. UJA-Federation has a multipronged mission to care for people in need, inspire a passion for Jewish life and learning, and strengthen communities in New York, in Israel and around the world.
However, this year’s Mitzvah Monday focused on one particular area of need — poverty. According to the Jewish Community Study of New York: 2011 Special Report on Poverty, there has been a rapid growth in Jewish poverty in recent years, with more than 560,000 people living in poor and near-poor Jewish households in the eight-county New York area. By making poverty the theme of the campaign, we brought visibility to an important issue, allowing potential donors to better understand what we do and how they can have an impact on our work.
There are specific elements to Mitzvah Monday that make it unique among our fundraising initiatives. We set a low threshold for people to participate—$10 was the suggested donation. This entry point encourages participation among people who have never given or don’t have the capacity for large gifts. Prior to launching the campaign, an anonymous donor stepped forward to match each $10 donation, up to $2,500, providing further incentive to give within the 24 hour period.
In multiple ways, we focused on how small gifts can make a big impact. When people clicked through via Twitter, Facebook or email, they were taken to a Mitzvah Monday landing page highlighting how their gift can help address numerous communal needs, especially those related to poverty. Potential donors learned how their gift could support programs that feed hungry children, cover basic utilities, help people find work and protect a family’s dignity.
Aside from the broad goal of raising funds, Mitzvah Monday was aimed at reaching donors who had not yet given this campaign year. Outreach efforts in 2012 resulted in a majority of Mitzvah Monday donations coming from individuals who had never before given to UJA-Federation. In the 2013 Mitzvah Monday campaign, 70 percent of those who gave were donors who had not yet given to the campaign, indicating that the intense one-day approach had a high success rate among this elusive and highly coveted group.
The day of Mitzvah Monday, UJA-Federation heightened the urgency surrounding the campaign. Our homepage, www.ujafedny.org, prominently promoted Mitzvah Monday. We also made sure the timeframe was known on social media. We posted information to the campaign on Facebook, and to reach the thousands of people who follow us on Twitter, we tweeted every few hours with the time left to donate. Our tweets, sampled below, built a sense of excitement and urgency.
“Only 7 hours left in #MitzvahMonday! Donate $10 & an anonymous donor will match it (up to $2500). Spread the word! ujafedny.org/mitzvah-monday/”
“Mitzvahs are contagious! Have u caught the #MitzvahMonday bug yet? Only 3 hours left for your donations to be matched! ujafedny.org/mitzvah-monday?
The #MitzvahMonday hashtag allowed us to reach people on Twitter who might have otherwise not been aware of our campaign. We worked to create momentum around the hashtag, and others included it when tweeting about the campaign.
In organizing the Mitzvah Monday campaign over the last two years, we have learned a great deal about what our donors find meaningful in terms of message and what resonates with those who aren’t able to make large donations. We have also learned that taking a chance on a unique fundraising method can have great benefits.
Ours is a world where people spend a lot of time online, and Mitzvah Monday taught us that this is an important space in terms of finding potential donors and supporters. As we look to the year ahead, we are excited to explore new avenues of outreach and engagement and to test new marketing campaigns that will continue to help us find new donors, introduce our mission to a wider audience and increase support for UJA-Federation.