With the holidays coming up, it’s time for your organization to dive into the most celebratory time of the year. Despite colder weather, the winter season is always a time of warmth and generosity, so just because the year is wrapping up doesn’t mean your holiday fundraising efforts should be too.
If you’ve almost reached your fundraising goal, one last end-of-year push could help you not only meet your goal but go above and beyond. Nearly one-third of annual giving happens in December, with the last three days of the year accounting for about 12% of yearly donations. With statistics like that, you don’t want your nonprofit to miss out on the charitable spirit of the holiday season.
However, it’s not always easy to draw in those donation numbers. Between family reunions and gatherings with friends, the holiday season is a busy time of year for everyone. If you’re worried about getting your donors to participate in your fundraisers, come up with fun, creative ideas that will get your supporters excited enough to spread the word to their friends and family.
Need some inspiration for your holiday fundraising celebrations? We’ve compiled a list of our favorite holiday fundraisers just for you.
Easy fundraising ideas
Most winter holidays have one thing in common: gift giving. During this time of year, you can count on wrapping paper sales skyrocketing, but becoming a gift-wrapping professional is no easy task for just anybody. So, if you have a team of people who are willing to sustain a few paper cuts in the quest to provide people with prettily-wrapped packages, consider hosting a gift-wrapping fundraiser to help gift givers out this holiday season.
Before you head out with your team of volunteer wrappers, host a training session to make sure they’ve got the folding and taping skills they need for your fundraiser. Then, find an area like a community center where you can set up your gift-wrapping station. You can even reach out to your local mall to see if they’ll allow you to set up a booth so shoppers can head straight to you after they’ve made their holiday purchases. Charge people a small fee for your gift-wrapping services based on the size of their packages, and offer wrapping paper for sale as well if they didn’t bring their own with them.
“Pack Santa’s Sleigh” supply/toy drive
While the holidays are typically a joyous time, for low-income families, they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Every parent wants to provide their child with the happiness and excitement of receiving a gift, and a toy and supply drive can make that possible for families who might not have the budget to buy their children the toy of their dreams.
Start by determining what your collection dates will be and then spreading the word about your drive. Place collection boxes in easy-to-find, highly-frequented areas, and drop a few toys in yourself to get the donation ball rolling. For a virtual option, set up an online store and have your supporters “purchase” toys from the store so your organization can purchase toys to distribute.
8 Days of Giving campaign
Giving days are a large undertaking for any nonprofit, with the most popular giving day being #GivingTuesday. When the holidays roll around, expand your giving day to celebrate the holidays with your supporters. An “8 Days of Giving” campaign is perfect for those who celebrate Hanukkah.
Create fundraising challenges for each night of the holiday or theme each giving day around a reason to give. Make sure to have a dedicated campaign hashtag for social media so people can share their reasons for participating in your fundraiser and can connect with other supporters. Ultimately, you want your fundraiser to reflect the spirit of Hanukkah, so provide plenty of educational and spiritual opportunities for your supporters to connect on a deeper level with the holiday.
Host a serve-a-thon
In the spirit of giving and service, host a serve-a-thon fundraiser to show some love for your community while also raising money for your mission. Plan your fundraiser around a day where your supporters will go out and participate in service projects over the course of a day. Set up a peer-to-peer fundraising website where all of your participants can create personal fundraising pages and ask for donations from their networks in the weeks before the serve-a-thon day.
You can either choose what service projects to participate in or encourage people to pick a volunteer opportunity close to their hearts, like a clean-up day at a park or sorting food at a food bank. With a serve-a-thon, not only will participants help your organization raise money for your mission, but they’ll also double their impact by supporting another organization with their time and volunteer efforts.
Holiday decor sales
Help your supporters get into the holiday spirit by selling festive decor pieces they can adorn their homes with. From wreath and tree sales to personalized holiday cards and menorahs to commemorative ornaments, there’s no shortage of holiday items your organization can provide for your supporters. Set up an online store and offer delivery services to make decorating for the holidays simple and painless for all of your supporters.
Need inspiration for your organization’s holiday cards? Check out SPCA Florida’s holiday card campaign to spark some ideas for your own.
Kid-friendly winter fundraising ideas
Pictures with Santa
For some families, pictures with Santa Claus are a yearly tradition. Provide a little holiday magic for your supporters and families in your community by hosting Santa Claus for a day. Advertise a one-day-only fundraising event where parents can bring their kids by to let Santa know what they want for Christmas. Charge a few dollars for pictures with good ol’ Saint Nick to add to the family photo album that will go toward your organization’s mission.
Cookie or ornament decorating party
Warm your ovens up or get your paints and glitter ready for a fun cookie or ornament decorating party. Supporters with a sweet tooth will love the opportunity to dive into personalizing their favorite sugary confections while others will appreciate the opportunity to put their creative skills to use by creating customized ornaments they can add to their trees. Charge participants a few dollars when they register for your event and then get to decorating!
If you’re looking for a great hybrid event idea, a decorating party is perfect. Set up a livestream and have participants at home follow along with people attending the party in person. Make things easier for your virtual supporters by creating party kits and delivering them to people’s homes.
Take your at-home Christmas classics karaoke sessions door-to-door with a holiday caroling fundraiser. Print out posters to hang up around your community offering people the opportunity to purchase a carol-gram to send their friends and family. Host a few rehearsals with your fellow singers, and then head out into the night dressed to the nines in your scarves and Christmas sweaters.
Hot chocolate stand
When the weather gets cold, there’s nothing like a cup of some classic hot cocoa to warm you up. Set up a hot chocolate stand at your events to treat your supporters to some chocolatey goodness while raising money for your organization’s mission.
If you’re not hosting in-person events, run a virtual hot chocolate stand by setting up an online shop with flavored hot chocolate kits so people can enjoy their sweet drinks from their homes. Offer a delivery service for an extra fee so your supporters can have their peppermint or pumpkin spice flavored hot chocolate kits delivered for instant consumption.
Gingerbread house decorating contest
Put your supporters’ creative cookie construction skills to the test with a gingerbread house decorating contest. Host this event as part of a holiday party. Ask participants to bring their own supplies, or offer kits they can purchase at the party. Give your participants a time limit to construct their homes, then, schedule a judging period where participants collect donations as “votes” to determine who had the best creation in a number of categories like, “Most Creative” or “Most Delicious-Looking.”
For a virtual peer-to-peer alternative, have participants construct their gingerbread houses at home, uploading photos of their final products to a gallery. Have them share the competition with their networks, asking people to “vote” for their favorite gingerbread house by donating to their individual donation pages.
Holiday fundraising events
New Year’s Eve cocktail gala
Ring in the new year with all of your supporters at a glamorous New Year’s Eve cocktail gala. Set a fundraising goal you’d like to meet by midnight and set up a text-to-donate campaign so your partygoers can donate throughout the night from their smartphones. Project a fundraising thermometer on a screen so your guests can track the fundraiser’s progress throughout the night.
If you’re looking to add some extra spice to your New Year’s party and raise even more, add a silent auction to the festivities like the Bethesda Foundation did with their Sweet Christmas Soiree. Then, when the clock strikes midnight, celebrate the conclusion of yet another successful fundraiser and a year of giving with everyone who makes your mission possible.
Jingle Jog/Santa Dash/Reindeer Run
A 5K is a great fundraising event and when the holidays roll around, keep the running going with a holiday-themed race. Set up a fundraising website where your supporters can build their own personal fundraising pages and ask for donations from their friends and family. Suggest that they set festive challenges for when they reach certain goals like, “If I reach 50% of my goal by X date, I’ll dress up as an elf to run the Santa Dash 5K.” Have them advertise those goals and challenges to their network to drive even more donations.
Holiday concert or movie night
From “Jingle Bells” to “The Latke Song” and “Elf” to “A Christmas Story,” there’s no shortage of holiday music and movies to listen to and watch. Bring your supporters together to indulge in a night of music and entertainment with a holiday concert or movie night. Sell tickets in the weeks before and run a concession stand at your event so people can buy treats before, after, and during the show.
Ugly sweater party
Celebrate the holidays in style by hosting an ugly sweater party. Encourage your supporters to don their ugliest sweaters for a night out while they raise money for a good cause. For the night of, set up a text-to-donate code, and display your fundraising thermometer somewhere prominent so your attendees can stay on top of your fundraiser’s progress throughout the night. Spice your party up with a contest where supporters can win prizes for wearing the most creative or ugliest sweater, among other categories.
Winter Wonderland carnival
Plan a festive carnival for a fun night out for the family. Rent out a community space or a park and ask local businesses if they’d be willing to sponsor a booth or two for entertaining holiday-themed carnival games. Offer local restaurants the opportunity to rent a booth space out to serve your carnival guests treats like hot apple cider and caramel popcorn.
Bring your supporters together and celebrate Passover with a fundraising seder. Host the feast at your local community center or partner with your local synagogue. To encourage a sense of community, ask celebrants to each bring their favorite traditional dish for a potluck-style seder. For a pandemic-friendly celebration, bring people together with smaller gatherings at multiple homes to celebrate Passover apart but together.
Unique fundraising ideas
Ask your brave supporters to jump into the deep end with a peer-to-peer polar plunge fundraiser. Set up a website, event registration form, and liability waiver with a reliable fundraising platform. Help your participants raise more money from their networks with personal fundraising pages, complete with a resource kit with graphics and social media post suggestions. On plunge day, gather your supporters and make a mad dash for the freezing cold water. Don’t forget to take plenty of pictures and videos to include in your thank-
If you’re looking to hold your own polar plunge, check out Special Olympics Chicago’s 22nd annual Chicago Polar Plunge for inspiration. While this event is being held in 2022, last year’s polar plunge raised over a million dollars!
Taking a few turns around an ice-skating rink is fun for everyone, from kids just learning to get their ice skate-clad feet under them, to couples out on a seasonal date night. Rent out an ice-skating rink and get your supporters out on the ice to raise money for your organization.
Add a little competition to your party by making your ice-skating event a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Have participants raise money in the weeks beforehand, even going head-to-head on teams, and then keep track of how many laps they’ve skated during your event.
Holiday lights hayride
While the days may get colder and darker in the winter, holiday lights will always be there to brighten up the longer nights. Organize a holiday lights hayride fundraiser to fully appreciate the festive displays of lights members of your community work so hard to put up every year. Consider selling hot drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate to keep your hayriders warm as you admire the lights.
Bring your local artisans together to sell their wares with a festive holiday bazaar. Find an open space you can use to host a bazaar and advertise to all of your local small businesses, from boutiques to bakeries, letting them know they can rent out a stall to sell their goods. Reach out to local musicians and entertainers and see if they’d be willing to put on performances at your bazaar to attract even more shoppers.
New Year’s pledge/sponsorship campaign
Sticking to your ambitious New Year’s resolutions can be difficult beyond February. With a New Year’s pledge or sponsorship campaign, you can give your donors the opportunity to make promises to themselves they’ll actually keep. Ask your supporters to set fundraising or donation goals for themselves to help your organization do good in the new year. Offer rewards when they hit milestones to encourage them to continue their support throughout the year.
For inspiration for your own pledge campaign, check out Harvest Time International’s Christmas Bag of Joy fundraiser to see what sponsorship pledges they offer to their supporters.
Adding a fundraising element to your holiday festivities means you can spread some joy and cheer while making a final push toward your year-end fundraising goal. As you close out another year of successful fundraising, take the time to celebrate and give thanks to your volunteers and supporters who helped you make it all happen.
Need some more resources to give your holiday fundraising some extra magic? Check these links out for even more tips and tricks as you wrap up your year.