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Make Your Holiday Cheer Work for Your Organization

Christmas donation 1

Santa has his sleigh and reindeer, but you are going to have to come up with some more unique ideas to reach all the good little boys and girls (your audience) this holiday season. Time to plan out your strategy. Yes, strategy. It is not all about spreading holiday cheer. According to, December accounts for 33.3 percent of all donations. Here are several tips to reach your audience.

Timing Is Critical

First, do not wait. Assume you are already behind schedule. Google query data shows a 20 percent increase in donation-related searches between August and September. And that was last month. No matter how much time you think you have before the season strikes, it will be here before you know it. Start planning now. Why are you still reading? You should be planning... Alright, finish this blog, then use the advice to start planning.

Spreading Cheer: Raising Awareness and Funds

Now that you know when you need to get started, what are you going to do? Since you are asking people to donate to your cause, you need to make sure they know what your cause really is. One of the best ways to teach people about your organization and the excellent work you are doing is to create online video on YouTube. Google Think Insights ran a study which showed more than half of the people who watched an online video donated to the cause.

Since it is the season of giving, use that to your advantage and give out holiday cards. Customize them so they do not feel like a form letter or just an afterthought. Use a site such as that allows you to include photos of your team and your original message. Choose or take a compelling action photo that tells the story of your mission, and include a strong personal message. Whether you use these cards to thank your previous donors or to inform the community of what your organization is doing, the goal should be the same: raise awareness and donations to your nonprofit.

Another option is a holiday gala. This is an excellent way to get in front of your audience and let them hear firsthand what you organization is up to and why they should contribute. Special events were the number two most-improved fundraising source, behind overall online campaigns, between 2010 and 2011. Charge for tickets, and give them away to your biggest donors as a thank you. Partner with the local media to get your message out with ticket giveaways. Use social media to talk up your event, and give away tickets for spreading the word. Silent auctions at the event are always a fun activity for your guests and another good way to raise funds.

Combine Ideas

Just remember, all three of these ideas can raise awareness and donations, but will take advanced planning. To increase the return on investment, they can also all be used together. The video can be made to talk about the event, and the holiday cards can also function as a customized invitation.

All of the above ideas are fantastic around the holidays when your donors are in a more giving mood, but can be executed at any time of the year. An informative video would be very effective, as long as the message is strong. Holiday cards can also be used as thank you cards, event invitations and announcement cards. And the gala can be themed for any season.

Holiday-Only Fundraisers

There are many great concepts that will only work around the holidays. These are ideas that will boost your presence in the community and, since they can only be used during the holidays, are wonderful ways to enhance your fundraising plans.

You have either stood in or seen the long lines that form at local malls and shopping centers for photos with Santa. The prices can be staggering for some of the packages they offer. What if your nonprofit picked a central location and set up your own Santa photo spot? All you need is a member of your organization who is willing to dress up as Santa, someone else who can use a digital camera, and a photo printer. Your overhead is minimal — a rented Santa suit, a backdrop, a digital camera, and photo printer with ink and paper. Advertise on your website and some of your larger donors sites, and put up some flyers. Since people will know exactly where their money is going, and you can keep your lines shorter, it can be a fun and successful way to raise some extra funds.

You could also offer gift wrapping. All you need are some volunteers who can wrap, and some paper, ribbon and tape (which you could possibly have donated.) You can combine these two efforts, so people can drop off their gifts and have them wrapped while they are getting their photo taken with Santa. They avoid the long lines, get things they need, and contribute to your organization.

The preceding is a guest post by Lisa McClintock, a music buff and freelance writer based out of Northern Arizona, where she’s finishing her MFA and novel.

Topics: Fundraising