This week, we’re behind the scenes with Kathleen Murphy, one of the faces behind the statewide #GivingTuesday initiative in Illinois, #ILGive. Here’s what Kathleen had to say about her experience so far championing #ILGive.



Q: Kathleen, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from, and how did you get involved with the social good world?

Kathleen: I was born and raised in Chicago and I’ve lived here for my entire life! I worked for the Obama 2008 campaign early in my career; training volunteers how to effectively phone canvass, cutting turf, and getting out the vote. That grassroots organizing work translated quite well into my new work at Forefront and with #ILGive for #GivingTuesday -- channeling enthusiasm online into fundraising dollars, volunteer shifts, and social activism. My years as a community organizer taught me some important lessons about how to be a leader through equipping and empowering others and organizing people around a common purpose.

Q: What inspired you to get involved in #GivingTuesday?

Kathleen: The desire and motivation to do good has a snowball effect, and when one person speaks up, commits to an act of kindness, gives even $1, it has the power to permeate society.

Forefront, where I work as Director of Communications, started hosting Illinois’ #GivingTuesday campaign in 2014. We saw #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to highlight the nonprofits in our state and all that they do to contribute to the growth and success of our communities – and to attract investment in these organizations so that they can sustain their good work.

My favorite thing about #GivingTuesday is that is inspires ordinary people to come together as a collective, uniting through generosity, and inspiring a movement of philanthropy and activism.

Q: What has worked well for #GivingTuesday in Illinois so far?

Kathleen: We built #ILGive for #GivingTuesday with three key components: making it easier for donors to find and support nonprofits, a nonprofit training program that would help organizations not only perform better during a giving day, but also acquire long-term online fundraising skills; and a significant marketing program to heighten the awareness about Illinois nonprofits.

Along with our partners at GiveGab, we built ILGive.com, which connects people to the causes they care about, allows them to take action, harnesses the energy in our communities, and maximizes efforts to create the lasting change we all want for our communities. Donors can search for an organization that’s working on an issues area close to their heart and donate or sign up for a volunteer activity in only a few clicks on any mobile device.

Leading up to #ILGive for #GivingTuesday, we train our participating nonprofits on everything from email targeting, to digital strategy, to donor retention. We offer a mix of learning opportunities so that we’re as accessible as possible – in person workshops, live webinars, on-demand videos, and self-guided online toolkits. We also run an email drip campaign that automatically sends new registrants weekly emails with best practices for a successful #ILGive for #GivingTuesday campaign.

Lastly, part of our mission with #ILGive for #GivingTuesday is to empower more nonprofits to attract and retain new donors to their missions. Our statewide marketing campaign encourages supporters to visit ILGive.com to “find” a nonprofit, “give” generously, and then “repeat” this giving, building a culture of philanthropy and generosity.

Throughout the year, in our social media channels, we highlight the innovative and creative nonprofits that are contributing to a better, more equitable world. We do Instagram takeovers – allowing our participating nonprofits to take over the ILGive Instagram account and post for 24 hours about their organization and why their cause matters.

Q: What challenges have you faced in getting #GivingTuesday in Illinois off the ground?

Kathleen: Obtaining a giving platform was a game-changer for us. In the first year we just had one page on our website (which I manually coded) with links to nonprofits who self-identified as wanting to participate in #GivingTuesday. Our new site allows us to provide better service to our nonprofits, to our foundations that provide matching gifts, as well as to our donors – who deserve an experience that’s as fast and friendly as their daily Amazon shopping when they want to support social impact.

Q: What's the potential or impact of the movement in Illinois?

Kathleen: It’s not just about the dollars raised to support social good in Illinois, but building a culture of philanthropy and generosity. Through the power of educating people about the critical work nonprofits do and then empowering them to act, we can pave the way for a better future.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for #GivingTuesday 2018?

Kathleen: I’m looking forward to activating youth this year and empowering the next generation to propel social change.

Q: One of the reasons the #GivingTuesday movement has been so successful globally is because of the vision and leadership of country and community leaders like you, who step up in the name of social good. What does leadership mean to you?

Kathleen: It’s not about being “the leader”-- but “a leader”-- standing alongside, arm in arm with others leading the charge. It’s about trying new things in collaboration instead of isolation, and creating innovations that others can take and expand.

Q: Do you have any advice for leaders thinking about starting a #GivingTuesday movement in their country or city?

Kathleen: Just do it! Social change never happened because someone asked permission. And then, surround yourself with good people who can help you. You can’t do it by yourself. Planning committees are incredibly helpful; try to have representation from as many different sectors as you can. Get both the foundations as well as small community organization leaders involved.

Q: What is a quote by one of your favourite leaders? Or Who is someone you admire for their vision and leadership and why?

Kathleen: “We have to rethink the concept of leader, because leader implies follower. I think we need to embrace the idea that we are the leaders we’ve been looking for.”

— Author, social activist, philosopher and feminist Grace Lee Boggs, at 91 years of age.