Giving season is officially upon us. This is the time when donors feel most generous – an estimated 30% of giving happens in December alone! And because this time of the year is so lucrative, most non-profits will hold some version of a holiday fundraiser.
With that being said, it can be difficult to make your own fundraiser stand out from the dozens of appeals that any individual might encounter. So here are 10 creative holiday fundraising ideas that will excite and engage donors and inspire the spirit of giving.
And if you want an efficient, easy way to reach out to your organization’s members and donors, consider a membership management software like Membership Works, which lets you keep track of your members in one database, put up simple and intuitive donation forms on your website, and so much more.
Which Fundraising Ideas are Best for My Audience?
The best way to answer this is to know your audience. Figure out their motivations, their values, their reasons for giving – all of this will help you pinpoint the right kind of fundraiser that will suit your audience.
So how do you get to know your audience? Here are some tips:
Allow your audience to talk about what matters to them
According to Forbes, it’s important to give your audience opportunities to share what’s important to them, whether through social media, feedback surveys, or special events. “Whatever the method, use it to cultivate an open door of communication with your audience”, says Jerry Haag of One More Child.
Practice donor/audience segmentation
Segmenting your audiences into subgroups based on demographics, financial capabilities, event attendance, relationship length, etc., can allow you to fine-tune your messaging and create a campaign that really resonates with a particular segment of your audience. As per Anne Marie Dougherty of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, “relevance builds engagement” and thus it’s essential to “tailor your communications”.
Top 10 Best Holiday Fundraising Ideas for Your Nonprofit
Here, you’ll find 10 creative ways to raise funds for your nonprofit over the holiday season:
1. Peer-to-peer fundraising
As mentioned, there are many different ways to utilize peer-to-peer fundraising for your non-profit. For example, you can harness the spirit of giving by calling on your supporters to invite their loved ones to make a donation to your non-profit in lieu of giving presents. Along with this idea, you might consider adding an optional field in your donation form to help donors recognize that they are giving in honor of someone. You can optionally collect contact information for the honoree on the same form so that they can be notified.
2. Virtual charity auctions
With the pandemic still ongoing, not everyone is comfortable attending live events. With virtual auctions, you can reach far more people than you would with an in-person event, all while operating at a much lower cost. To make your virtual auction festive, try to auction off holiday items, like home decor, Christmas trees, a visit from Santa, or prized tickets to holiday shows.
3. Galas and celebrations
If you really want to throw a ball, you have tons of options too – from a fancy New Year’s Eve cocktail party to a holiday concert to holiday-themed movie marathon at your local cinema. The holiday concert can also be done as an online or hybrid event, where you stream the performances live on Facebook or YouTube.
4. Holiday merch
Producing holiday cards and calendars may seem a little old school these days, but as it turns out, more and more people are feeling nostalgic for personalized, tangible presents. Put your own twist to the merch by getting your beneficiaries involved – this will also make donors/audiences more inclined to make a purchase, as they’ll see the faces of those they are helping.
For example, if you’re an animal welfare organization that works with different shelters, you can stage a holiday-themed photo shoot with the shelter dogs and sell the prints as holiday cards.
5. Ugly sweater competition
Over the last few years, the ugly sweater has cemented a spot in our holiday culture. Since the early 2000s, ugly sweater parties have turned into their own special event, with people turning up to parties in the goofiest pullovers they have lying around in their closets. Join in on the festivities by hosting your own ugly sweater competition, complete with judges, judging criteria, and a special prize for the ugliest sweater of the night.
And while this idea is most fun to do in a face-to-face gathering, it also works as a virtual event that doubles as an awareness campaign. Invite participants to post their photos in their ugliest sweaters with a caption related to your cause and a hashtag made just for the event.
6. Fund a need
You can call on your target audience to make a significant impact in the lives of a person or family in need during the holidays with a simple gift, such as in the case of fund-a-need campaigns. You can market it along the lines of “Your $250 donation feeds a low-income family throughout December”.
7. Gamify holiday traditions
Who can eat the most sugar cookies in one sitting? Or build the most elaborate gingerbread house in an hour? Or turn their home into the most decorated house in the entire neighborhood? Turn beloved traditions into fun competitions. You can charge an entry fee as your fundraiser and then set up a form to facilitate voting. Perhaps create one trophy that could be passed between winning participants year after year. In the case of a gingerbread house contest, you could sell gingerbread house kits at a marked-up price and also charge for delivery.
8. E-commerce tie-ups
Since the pandemic began, e-commerce sales shot up. Today, some of the biggest and most profitable retailers are e-commerce sites. As such, you can expect a lot of people will be doing their holiday shopping online. With that being said, you can partner up with an online seller that can promise to split a portion of profits to your cause. Amazon Smile is one option along these lines.
You can also manufacture limited edition collaborations with certain brands. For example, perhaps there’s a local coffee seller who may want to align with your nonprofit and might sell a special bag of coffee beans or a holiday drink that’s named for your group. You can share in the proceeds. It’s a win-win in the sense that the coffee store will benefit from your organization marketing the special product and you’ll benefit from the revenue share. The same principal could be applied to a special dessert at a bakery or a limited offer sandwich at a sub shop.
9.”No ______ December”
In November, men around the world grow out their mustaches and resist shaving for an entire month to raise awareness about men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer. You can do a similar challenge for December, where you invite your audience to give up something for a month, whether it be alcohol, coffee, sweets or meat. You can relate the challenge to your cause – for example, give up meat to raise awareness about global warming, or cut out sugar to raise awareness of juvenile diabetes. Some ways to promote and monetize a challenge:
- Ask people who are participating in the challenge to donate a certain amount.
- Create a set script for participants to copy and paste onto their social media posts. For example, “I’m giving up (your challenge topic) for December and have donated to (your nonprofit name here) because I believe/support/want people to know that (your challenge message).
- Create one or more hashtags related to your challenge. For example, #nosugardecember.
- Create a Facebook profile frame related to your challenge so that participants can quickly identify themselves.
- If your challenge becomes viral on social media, you can leverage the new awareness into fundraising appeals that will have a more educated and receptive audience.
10. Workshop wonderland
Consider hosting a series of workshops on all sorts of hobbies and crafts, from knitting to wreath-making to pottery to woodworking. You may have crafty volunteers willing to teach these classes at no cost to your nonprofit. You might also be able to find sponsors to pay for or supply workshop materials. For example, perhaps there’s a Christmas tree farm nearby that could supply you with free tree trimmings for a wreath-making class.
If you host the workshops in December, you can market it as an opportunity for participants to make homemade gifts for their friends. Sell tickets to the event and put together a workshop kit to make it attractive. Alternatively, you could sell workshops that are not holiday-related that occur in when people’s calendars are more clear. Friends could buy tickets to attend workshops together as a fun holiday gift to each other. This also shifts gift giving focus into gifts of experience versus things.
A Final Word about Holiday Fundraising
Be sure that you recognize that not every member of your target audience celebrates Christmas. For example, you may have Jewish and Muslim supporters who may ignore or be turned off by Christmas-focused fundraising appeals or activities. Consider how you can broaden your focus, choose non-exclusive language and include people of all faiths in your efforts.
Nonprofit Fundraising FAQs
How do you raise funds for a nonprofit?
There is no clear-cut straightforward answer to this. You have to draw up a detailed plan, figure out your messaging, pinpoint your target market, market your campaign, and have a solid event planning team to take care of the logistics. Donor outreach is also essential to every fundraising effort.
What are the easiest fundraising ideas?
Crowdfunding, matching gifts programs, and pledge campaigns are some of the most effective and least labor-intensive ways to raise funds.
How do nonprofits raise money fast?
“Work smarter, not harder,” as the saying goes. You have to be strategic and know your audience well to raise money fast.