#My Giving Story Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  • How to Enter & What to Write
  • Nominating Organizations & Prizes
  • Submitting & Editing Your Story
  • Voting & the Gallery of Stories
  • Recruiting Other Storytellers
  • Questions from Organizations
  • About #MyGivingStory

How to Enter & What to Write

Who should enter the #MyGivingStory contest?

Anyone 13 years and older, youth, adults, seniors, and the young-at-heart. English and Spanish speakers. Nonprofit clients, employees, board members, volunteers and donors. You!

How do I participate? What is the timeline for the #MyGivingStory Contest?

  1. NOVEMBER 1, 2018, 12:01 AM EST - CONTEST OPEN Submit your essay with optional image or a video at mygivingstory.givingtuesday.org. Once you have entered, make sure to share your story on social media and encourage your networks to vote as often as possible (and ideally every day) until December 7th. When sharing your story on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #MyGivingStory. The more you share, the more votes you’ll get, and the more likely you'll be to win!
  2. NOVEMBER 30, 2018, 11:59 PM EST - END OF STORY SUBMISSION PERIOD Voting will remain open for one additional week, so continue to reach out to your network.
  3. DECEMBER 7, 2018, 11:59 PM EST - END OF VOTING PERIOD
  4. DECEMBER 10, 2018 - FINALISTS ANNOUNCED The 20 entries with the most votes will be sent to a panel of judges to select the winners.
  5. WEEK OF DECEMBER 17, 2018 - WINNERS ANNOUNCED

What kind of story should I write?

Respond to the prompt—”Every act of giving has a story. What’s yours?”—in whatever way is meaningful to you. Think about what or who inspires you to give back. Have you given time, donated money or goods, or shared skills that made a meaningful impact? What is the first time you remember giving? Is there a moment or event that changed your understanding of generosity? Who is the most generous person you know and how has that person influenced you? Feel free to be creative!

What tips do you have for creating a winning entry?

We’ve learned a lot about what makes a winning essay based on previous years. 

  • Stories between 500 and 600 words (we ask for a minimum of 150 and a maximum of 1,200 words) received the most votes. 
  • Stories that presented a polished, thoughtful and complete narrative resulted in higher engagement and overall story success. 
  • The stories that were most popular were those that generally followed Greek and Shakespearean drama, which contains five key components: the exposition (setting the stage), rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. 
  • Adding an image and/or video substantially improved votes, although those with an organizational logo as the primary visual did not work as well as those with photos. 

All of this said, the most important thing is that you have fun with it. Make your entry creative, personal and joyful. Get inspired by previous successful stories on the "Past Winners" page.

What other tips make it more likely for my entry to win?

Enter as early in November as you can so that you have plenty of time to solicit votes. Promote your story through social media and motivate your networks to vote for your entry. Remember that the finalists that get sent to the judges are the 20 entries with the most votes. Tell your chosen nonprofit organization about your story, including the fact that you named them as the recipient. Ask them to help motivate their followers to vote for your story. Follow @GivingTuesday on social media to get updates and hear more about the contest.

I am going to enter a story about someone else who has spent many years giving back. Do I need to put my information in the contact information or theirs?

What a beautiful idea! You should go ahead and use your information since you are the writer of the story.

Nominating Organizations & Prizes

What are the prizes?

There are several streams of prizes:

  1. From among the 20 finalists with the most votes, the judges’ rankings will determine the winners of 1st Place ($10,000 for your chosen nonprofit organization), 2nd Place ($5,000 for your chosen nonprofit organization) and 3rd Place ($2,500 for your chosen nonprofit organization).
  2. The five Spanish-language stories with the most votes will be reviewed by judges. The two finalists with the highest scores will receive the Yo Dono Porque award and $2,500 for their chosen nonprofit organization.
  3. The five nonprofit organizations that are nominated by the most story submitters will each receive $2,000 grants. (Note that this will not impact individual stories’ eligibility to be a finalist or winner of one of the larger prizes.)
  4. Three outstanding stories will each receive an Honorable Mention and $1,000 for their chosen nonprofit organization.
  5. Ten times throughout the voting period (twice per week), an entry will be selected at random to receive a $500 grant for their chosen charity. (Note that this will not impact individual stories’ eligibility to be a finalist or winner of one of the larger prizes.)
  6. Every day during the contest (November 1st to December 7th), an entry will be selected at random to receive a custom #GivingTuesday gift.

What nonprofit organization should I nominate as part of my submission?

For a chosen charity to receive the grant, it must be officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization or working with a fiscal sponsor with 501(c)(3) status. Other than that, we encourage you to choose one whose work and impact is meaningful to you. It can be related to your story, but doesn’t have to be. We recommend telling your chosen organization that you named them as the potential recipient of a grant. Share your story with them, too, and encourage them to help you spread the word and generate votes.

How will I know if I win?

Finalists will be announced through the website and social media on December 7th, and then highlighted throughout the following weeks. The prize winners will be announced on social media in mid-December. If you win, we will also email you directly at the email you provide when registering. Sweepstakes winners will also be notified via email.

Does my story have to relate to the nonprofit I choose to support?

Not at all! Your story can be about giving in any form at any time.

Can I submit my own nonprofit and share why I began it?

Absolutely! We look forward to hearing it!

Do the “Yo Dono Porque” Spanish-language entries have to benefit Spanish-speaking organizations?

Not at all! With English or Spanish entries, the writer may choose any nonprofit to receive the grant should their story win a prize in the contest. We simply welcome stories in both languages.

Submitting & Editing Your Story

I’m having trouble uploading my video or photo. What should I do?

Oh dear! Thank you for trying. First, check that your video or photo size is within the limits of what we are able to accept. Photos must be no larger than 20MB and in one of the following formats: .gif, .jpg, .jpeg, .png. Videos must be under 100MB, under 5 minutes, and in one of the following formats: AVI, MOV, WMV, MP4, MPEG, FLV, 3GP, and 3G2. Next, check your internet connection. Are you able to access and update web pages and other online content? Finally, try from a different computer. Many workplaces have size limits on transferring files, even if they are within the limits of the contest. Several people have solved this problem by submitting from their non-work computers. If you are still having trouble, email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org.

I submitted a story a few days ago and I can't find it in the Gallery of Stories. Are you able to confirm that you received it? Or shall I re-submit it?

If you did not receive an automatic email confirmation, it probably did not go through. If you cannot find your submission in the online gallery, it probably did not go through. The stories appear almost instantly. We would love to have you participate, so if you are willing to submit again, please do. If you still have trouble, email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org.

Can I edit my story after I submitted it?

Unfortunately, there is no way for you to make edits once you have submitted your story. If you send us the edits at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org, we will do our best to get it updated from the back end.

My story was submitted for me before I was finished. Can I edit/update my unfinished story?

You have two options in this situation. You can ask us to delete the one that you submitted and then re-submit. If you don’t want to do that because you have already received votes, you may email us the new text and we’ll update it from the back end (although we can't change pictures, only text). Email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org and we will respond as quickly as possible.

Can I add an image or video to my story after I have submitted it?

We are not able to add an image or video after you hit submit. The only option is to have us take down your original submission and re-submit it with the image or video. Note that, if we do this, your entry will lose any votes you have already received. Email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org if you would still like to do so.

Can I delete my entry?

If you are sure you want to do this, we will delete it for you. Email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org and tell us which story it is by sharing the email confirmation your received or the title of your submission. If you don’t mind sharing, we would be curious to understand why you decided to delete it.

How can I display a different screenshot from my video?

Unfortunately, you can’t. The moment, or screenshot, from your video that will be displayed in the Gallery of Stories is taken from a few seconds into the video. It is the same for all entries.

Voting & the Gallery of Stories

How are the stories ordered in the gallery?

The order of display is random and rotates regularly and for each visitor. If you want people to be able to go directly to your story, share your unique link. Otherwise, visitors can enter the title of your story into the search bar just above the gallery.

How does someone vote for my story or for their favorite story?

To vote, people can go to the online gallery of stories, click on the story they like, and simply click the green Vote box on any particular story. If you share the unique link to your story (see below for how to find that link), it will take visitors directly to the pop-up window with your story, where they can click on the Vote box.

I want to vote for an organization I know. How do I find it in the gallery of stories?

You can find a particular story, organization, or even an issue you care about by entering what you are looking for in the search bar. (Note that this isn’t a perfect system, as it depends on what words entrants use in their stories.) If you still can’t find what you are looking for, email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org. While you are in the gallery, please read through and vote for as many stories you like. Just click on the Vote button in the upper right corner of any story. And remember that you can come back every day to vote again!

How often can someone vote?

Each voter can vote for as many stories as they like in a given day, and can come back each day and vote for more stories and/or vote again for the same ones. The only limit is that each voter can vote for any particular story only once each day.

The system is telling me that I already voted, but I didn’t today. What should I do?

Are you sharing a computer? If so, you will need to select the logout button on the top right of the homepage each time.

Why do people have to give their emails to vote?

The email registration to vote is a way for us to validate votes and be sure it is not a robot somewhere voting a million times for one story. We do value everyone's privacy. We will not sell these emails or use them for any unrelated purposes. It is possible that we might send an email at some point to all the voters to say thank you and to encourage them to share their favorite stories on social media.

How do I find a link to my story so my friends can vote?

To get voters, you can share the unique link to your story. The link should be in your confirmation email. If you can’t find it there, follow these steps: 

  1. Go to mygivingstory.givingtuesday.org; 
  2. Scroll down to the gallery of stories; 
  3. Use the search tool or scroll down until you see your story; 
  4. Click on your story and it will open in a pop-up window; 
  5. Click on the "Share" button in the upper right corner; 
  6. Click on the arrow icon; 
  7. Your unique link will appear; 
  8. Share that link via your social media profiles, in emails, and on your website. (Note that people can also vote for your story without this direct link if they go to the online gallery of stories and browse or search for your story.)

Is there a way to see how many votes my story has received?

Unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to provide updates on voting tallies during the contest. As you are thinking about voting, remember that the vast majority of votes are generated by people sharing their stories with their own networks via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and emails. Ask you friends, family and colleagues to vote regularly (every day if they can!) and to share it with their networks as well.

Recruiting Other Storytellers

What link do I use to recruit others to share their stories? How do I get credited for recruiting them?

To recruit friends and family to share their stories, have them follow the unique link to your story. (See above for how to find that link.) Instruct them to close the pop-up box with your story and then click on "Submit Here" to submit their own stories. In this way, we can credit you with recruiting them. (Note that their stories can be about whatever they want; they don’t have to be similar to yours, nor must they choose the same nonprofit organization.) For every storyteller you recruit, you will get one additional entry into the biweekly sweepstakes for a $500 grant to your chosen nonprofit organization and one additional entry into the daily sweepstakes for a custom #GivingTuesday gift. And, if you recruit three additional storytellers, we’ll share your story on the #GivingTuesday blog!

Questions from Organizations

If someone wants to name our organization as the recipient of a prize, is there anything we need to do as an organization to be eligible?

Nope! Before receiving the grant, we will ask for proof of 501(c)(3) status and a W-9, But, until then, there’s nothing to do except recruit other storytellers, vote and encourage your supporters to do the same—and, of course, soak up the love!

If my organization wins, how will you know how to contact us?

Great question! We will start by emailing the storyteller (who must provide their email when they enter the contest) and Googling your organization to look for an appropriate contact on your website to email. Between these two contacts, we generally find the right person. We also tweet about it and tag the organization when we can find the organization’s Twitter handle. If none of that works, we will pick up the phone and call.

How can my organization win the Most Nominated Nonprofit award?

Each storyteller gets to name the nonprofit organization that will receive the grant award if their story is selected. The story itself doesn’t have to be about your organization, so long as they name you when filling out their entry. The five organizations that receive the most nominations will each receive a $2,000 grant. The best way to win is to spread the word to your staff, board members, donors, clients, etc. and encourage them to submit their stories, making sure that they name your organization as the recipient. This can also be a great way to engage your supporters and gather stories on your organization’s impact.

Which of the stories submitted about my organization is the one eligible for the grand prizes?

All submissions that meet the basic eligibility criteria are eligible for the grand prizes (one for $10,000, one for $5,000, and one for $2,500). Each story is counted as a separate entry, and its votes count only for itself. The 20 stories with the most votes as of December 7th will be sent to the judges. The voting system allows voters to vote for as many stories as they like and to come back and vote every day.

About #MyGivingStory

Where does the prize money come from?

#MyGivingStory is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The actual award checks will be written from 92nd Street Y. The #MyGivingStory campaign was created through a partnership between these two organizations, and in conjunction with #GivingTuesday.

What if I have ideas or suggestions about #MyGivingStory?

Don’t hesitate to email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org!

What if this FAQ didn't answer my question?

Email us at mygivingstory@givingtuesday.org .