How to Raise $2.2 Million in 24 hours

Ray Nuñez

Co-Founder, CEO, Nuñez

Social Media Strategies Increase Revenue by 75% in 24 Hours!

The first day of April may be April Fool’s Day, but 401Gives is most definitely not a joke. 401Gives is a state-wide initiative powered by United Way of Rhode Island. On April 1st, for 24 hours only, 401Gives is Rhode Island’s premier online fundraising campaign for non-profit organizations within the state.

401Gives debuted in 2020, generating $1.3 million in donations disbursed to 366 Rhode Island nonprofits.

401Gives is more than just a single day. It is an entire movement encouraging community support of the valiant work and efforts of non-profits through community giving. These 24 hours of giving pale in extent to the 365 days of community giving and service we are fortunate to receive from these non-profits and especially at a time we need it most. Nonprofits are irreplaceable community institutions that, sadly, often go underfunding and undervalued.

This initiative was designed to be a collective voice for the non-profits of Rhode Island, using a state-of-the-art platform and focused media strategy to familiarize and unite Rhode Islanders with hundreds of worthwhile causes condensed into 24 hours.


One major challenge we had to confront was the fact that Rhode Island is notoriously and consistently ranked as one of the least charitable states in the entire country. We had to strategize the mobilization of the least generous state on what had the potential to be the biggest giving day of the year in the state.

On top of facing a statewide reluctance towards philanthropy, we recognized that as the 2nd ever occurrence of the event in history, there was still a lot of work to do in building 401Gives brand and community recognition. Plus, there was still a significant portion of potential donors who had been unaware of the existence of the initiative entirely. For many Rhode Island donors, April 1st, 2021 would have just been another April Fool’s. 

Because 401Gives allows nonprofits to register to receive the collected donations, one singular campaign was tasked with representing hundreds of various non-profits with different mandates and missions. Most challengingly, these organizations did not have the budgets for marketing themselves. So within our campaign, strategy was critical in representing and marketing hundreds of these collective community voices. 

Last, but certainly not least, came the challenges of campaigning and marketing in the times of COVID-19. We couldn't host typical in-person campaign events or fundraising efforts, and fundraising as a whole was made difficult because of the pandemic’s financial repercussions. On top of that, we had to battle for TV and social media airtime and coverage coverage, not just in the expected context of oversaturated ad and news content, but in the midst of COVID newscasts, health ads and campaigns, etc. 

Solutions and Strategies

When we met with United Way of Rhode Island’s 401Gives Team, the initial goal for 2021 was $1.5 million in 24 hours. This was only a 14% expected increase from what had been donated in 2020. To take this goal to go above and beyond, our 2021 our 401Gives campaign used:

Social Media and Ad Management

Organic - Using Twitter, we gathered an incredible 120,000 tweet impressions, 6,000 profile views, and 292 followers without any Twitter Ads.

Paid - On Facebook, our campaign gathered over 10,000 post engagements, more than 600 new likes, over 18,000 video fews and 509 new followers. With both Facebook and Instagram Ads, we underwent a budget of $2,000, leading to a massive 55,151 post reach, including 11,585 post engagements (and a 25% ROI).

Graphic Design

We were responsible for all original graphic content used across all social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Video Production and Animation - Organizations sent in short videos which were edited and incorporated in our social media posts to garner further attraction to the event, while prioritizing the community component of this campaign


We started this campaign alongside 401Gives to raise $1.5million. Instead, we raised $2.2 million in only 24 hours, with 12,000 donors. This represented a nearly 70% increase in donations from the year before. Because of this massive outreach and donor response, 422 Rhode Island nonprofits received donations as a result.

Other notable results achieved included:

  • Trending on all social media platforms utilized
  • 15% increase in the number of organizations registering
  • 60% increase in donors from the previous year
  • Record breaking social media engagement for some of the partner organizations
  • 401Gives was nominated as the New Face of Giving Days for being an emerging Giving Day leader 

From 2021 forward, April 1st holds an entirely different meaning for Rhode Islanders. It’s a day of community engagement, of uplifting each other and reinvesting in those most deserving. We can’t only imagine what will happen in 2022.

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