Final Data, Trends in Online Giving, and What We Learned About Giving Days

This study is a closer look into how Forefront, the organization leading the #GivingTuesday civic movement in Illinois, built their campaign and grew the movement in their state.  The following information provides an overview of their results and strategy, which may be helpful for organizations looking to plan a regional fundraising campaign.

On November 29, 2016, the world celebrated the 5th annual Giving Tuesday. Here in Illinois, nonprofits, donors, foundations, friends, and neighbors celebrated #ILGive, Illinois’ local Giving Tuesday campaign, and raised a collective $11.3 million dollars for social good in Illinois!

The total is based on available data provided by 27 commonly-used online giving platforms through Giving Tuesday’s Open Data Project. While some nonprofits reported receiving checks, the bulk of these donations came online. The total also includes nearly a million dollars in matched funding from local foundation partners. Here’s the breakdown and a few stats:

Data: A Snapshot of Giving in Illinois on #GivingTuesday 2016

  • Total: $11,322,682
  • Giving Tuesday Data Project totals: $5,447,149
  • Other gifts:* $4,001,191
  • Total raised on the ILGive platform: $1,007,342
  • Matching Gifts from Foundations: $867,000
  • Number of IL Nonprofits Using the #ILGive Platform: 400
  • Number of Donors Using the ILGive Platform: 6,920
  • Average Gift on the ILGive Platform: $132
  • % of Giving on Mobile Devices: 45%
  • Social Media Impressions: 7,310,132
  • New Donors: 90% of participating orgs recieved new donors
  • Tweets per min: 1.14

*Other gifts category includes both checks and donations captured with platforms that did not report to the Giving Tuesday Open Data Project.

“The real success of #ILGive isn’t just about how much money was raised,” says Eric Weinheimer, President and CEO of Forefront. “It’s about the coming together of our sector, and the tremendous impact those dollars have on the communities we serve throughout Illinois. The results of #ILGive for #GivingTuesday really demonstrated the power these Giving Days can have.”

Some Background and What We Did Differently This Year

Forefront’s mission is to lead the movement for a vibrant social impact sector in Illinois. In other words, Forefront creates an environment that allows social impact sector organizations to do their best work. Part of our strategy includes increasing investment to the sector.

Individual giving accounts for 71% of all contributions to nonprofits. How do we tap into that market even more? Historically over the past 50 years, individual giving has remained at 2.8% of AGI in Illinois and that has stayed steady, how do we bump that to 3%? How do we unleash billions more dollars into the sector?

“Choosing to go with a platform this year, truly changed our campaign,” said Delia Coleman, VP of Stategy + Policy at Foreftont. “The ability for real time data and leaderboards provided fuel to the fire and incentivized donors, the centralized platform allows us to report accurate data quickly.”

With our colleagues at The Coleman Foundation, we first created #ILGive for Giving Tuesday in 2014 to mobilize Illinois nonprofits and foundations to increase individual giving across the state. For the first two years, #ILGive for Giving Tuesday was primarily a social media campaign because we didn't have the infrastructure to support much more. Our nonprofit participants raised $4 million the first year, and $6 million the following year.

New this year, with help from our partner GiveGab, we built a website that allowed donors to give to directly to nonprofits on The new website allowed donors to search from 19 different issue areas as well as by location to find a cause near to their location and their heart.

Through the generosity of GiveGab, nonprofits were offered the chance to fundraise for free on Giving Tuesday as well as take advantage of the latest technology in digital fundraising, a mobile friendly giving experience, as well as robust donor data.

“Choosing to go with a platform this year, truly changed our campaign,” said Delia Coleman, VP of Stategy + Policy at Foreftont. “The ability for real time data and leaderboards provided fuel to the fire and incentivized donors, the centralized platform allows us to report accurate data quickly.”

Forefront's Role in #ILGive


We wanted a donation experience that got donors fired up, excited to share, and allowed them give in 3 clicks. GiveGab's technology provided everything we wanted and more. Here are a few stats that illustrate the success of our ILGive platform:

  • Mobile technology is changing the digital fundraising game. 45% of sessions on #ILGive for #GivingTuesday happened on a mobile device. Our donation flow needed to be mobile friendly and delivered.
  • 72% of donors shared ILGive using our social share buttons, amplifying the movement and sharing your organization's mission to their networks.
  • 93% of donors who clicked on the Donate button actually completed their gift. For comparison, the national average for conversion on a donate button on a nonprofit’s website is 18%. In our post-event donors survey, donors reported being very happy with the #ILGive donation experience.


New donor acquisition is absolutely essential to a nonprofit's growth and sustainablity.

Nearly 100% of nonprofit participants received new donors through #ILGive for #GivingTuesday. Because it's our first year on a platform, we're not yet able to find out how many new donors but in future campaigns we look forward to obtaining more data around donor acquisition.


Participating nonprofits not only received a great user experience for their donors, they also received about $250,000 in advertising. Forefront worked with local media outlets and ad agencies to secure electronic billboards, ads in the Chicago SunTimes, and radio spots on WBEZ. Forefront staff also appeared in television spots throughout the morning, to drive donor attention to #ILGive and encourage residents to give local and support Illinois nonprofits. We cultivated a team of influencers, from Israel Idonije to Common to Adrien Grenier, to tweet about #ILGive for Giving Tuesday and help us raise awareness and amplify the movement.


Donors want to see their dollars go further and have a greater impact. Donors are twice as likely to make a contribution on the big day if there is some kind of donation match. Forefront partnered with 11 local foundations to provide matching grants to incentivize donors to give more.

The Coleman Foundation, the Dunham Fund, Driehaus Foundation, Gorter Family Foundation, Grand Victoria Foundation, Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation, Pierce Family Foundation, Woods Fund Chicago, The Retirement Research Foundation, and others collectively provided nearly $1 million in matched funds for their grantees on #ILGive for Giving Tuesday.


By equipping our nonprofits with new tools and providing training and education on the latest trends in online giving, we're positioning Illinois nonprofits to be at the forefront of digital fundraising.

Leading up to the big day, Forefront + GiveGab prepared nonprofit participants with a series of weekly emails, webinar trainings, and campaign resources, so they could make the most of the giving day.

“Last year was our first year participating in #ILGive. We did not receive any donations. We also did not implement any of the actions steps you gave us…What a difference a year has made. We’re still new at this, but look how much better we did by implementing many of the resources and tips your team made available to us!” - JC is the Way Ministries


We now have accurate data we can use to help inform our knowledge of Giving Days and draw conclusions about fundraising success. We have a baseline of data from which we can learn in future iterations of ILGive. This data can help us inform our tactics, and also help nonprofits strategize on the role social media can play in fundraising, building awareness, and assembling teams of fundraisers.

Over the next weeks and months, Forefront will be unpacking and sharing everything we learned about donor behavior, online fundraising best practices, and what we’re learning about Giving Days.

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