It’s only November, but we can already feel the Christmas spirit in the air. Christmas is all about love, family, kindness, and giving.
In our Thanksgiving Fundraising Ideas blog post, we talked about the importance of fundraising during November and December. These two months make up what is commonly called the Giving Season for the nonprofit community. As the holidays near, people feel encouraged to give more generously than during the rest of the year.
Around 25% or more of all annual giving in the U.S. occurs during the last three months of the year. An estimated 43% of higher income donors (from households earning greater than $200,000) donate more during the holidays.
Some 40 percent of all individual charitable donations are made in December. For many charities—such as Teach for America, which received 80.5 percent of all individual donations for 2012 in December, and Save the Children, which raked in 68.6 percent of donations in that same month—end-of-year fundraising is the difference between a successful year and financial hard times.
With this in mind, we’ve assembled a list of our 15 favorite Christmas fundraising ideas.
15 Christmas Fundraising Ideas
Christmas is the ideal time to ensure your donors’ gifts are matched. By using this Christmas fundraising idea, you can increase the size of your donations significantly!
Large corporations often have matching programs set up. This means they will donate the same amount of money that you raise on your own. Contact various Human Resources departments of these corporations and see if you can get a corporate partner to match donations you receive during holidays.
It’s unfortunate that many nonprofits miss out on this amazing fundraising opportunity, so make sure that you don’t! Ensure that your marketing efforts highlight the matching program to your supporters and donors.
2. Gift Wrapping Party
This is an excellent Christmas fundraising idea, especially if you’re a local nonprofit, a faith-based organization, or a school. Many people enjoy wrapping gifts for holidays, but there are also many people who would gladly pay to have someone else do it!
How to Organize a Christmas Gift Wrapping Party (Actionable Tips Inside):
- Get several volunteers on board.
- Schedule a day close to the holidays during which people from your local community can come and get their gifts wrapped.
- Try and get wrapping supplies donated (e.g. by Target), so you maximize the donation amount.
- Make the atmosphere festive and inviting with some Christmas decor, carols, and lights. Charge a small amount for every gift wrapped.
3. Soup Party
During cold winter months, who doesn’t love a hearty warm soup?
Organizing a soup-themed fundraiser is a great way to get everyone together while the weather is chilly. Get volunteers or individual members of your community to contribute with pots of homemade soup, and then charge attendees for samples. Try to get your volunteers to cook soups in as many different flavors as possible.
This is amongst the best Christmas fundraising ideas for schools.
4. Ugly Sweater Party
Very few things say Christmas like ugly Christmas sweaters!
A lot of people have a Christmas sweater lying around, so this is a fun and easy Christmas fundraising idea.
Make it a contest that participants pay to enter into – and may the ugliest sweater win!
You can also get your social media followers on board and have them donate to the campaign.
The “Ugly Sweater Campaign” invites supporters to sport their unbecoming tops to raise funds and awareness for Stand Up To Cancer, a nonprofit that raises funds for new treatments and therapies.
5. Polar Plunge
The ultimate winter activity, Polar Plunge is guaranteed to heat up your Christmas fundraising efforts! Many Polar Plunge event organizers have discovered that people love the daring aspect of doing something they wouldn’t ordinarily do, especially if it’s for a good cause.
Polar plunges can help raise funds for your nonprofit in the following ways:
– Participants pay a flat entrance fee.
– Participants solicit donations through pledges. The pledges will often pay for the amount of time (in minutes or seconds) the plunger lasts in the water.
We recommend the second way as it generally gathers a larger amount of donations.
Start recruiting participants at least several weeks in advance, and if possible, get a couple of local celebrities to participate.
Due to the nature of this particular Christmas fundraising idea, mobilize medical volunteers in addition to marketing, finance, and logistics volunteers.
Make sure to heavily publicize your event with flyers, press releases, and a social media campaign.
Ski-a-thons are an amazing fundraising idea for winter sports lovers and snow enthusiasts out there. Organize a one-day long skiing event. Ski-a-thons are a perfect wintertime alternative to marathons.
Use peer-to-peer fundraising to allow your participants to collect donations, but also consider creating sponsorship packages like Boys and Girls of Ottawa did here.
7. Winter or Christmas-themed Fundraising Day
A winter or Christmas-themed fundraising day is a fun and simple Christmas fundraising idea. Organize a “Bobble Hat Day”, a “Christmas Sweater Day”, or a “Christmas Mug Day”. People can wear/bring these to work, raise awareness about your cause, donate, and fundraise. You can offer different levels of involvement.
What’s great about this idea is that it can incorporate a lot of the fundraising techniques we talked about before on our blog: from ‘text to give’ to peer-to-peer fundraising and online campaigns.
8. Christmas Cookies Bake-Off
Baking events are an almost guaranteed fundraising win.
Organize a bake-off, a bake sale, or even a Christmas Cookies Swap.
Christmas Cookies Swap is a very interesting way to make everyone’s life easier during the holiday season. The idea is to have people bring in several dozens of their favorite homemade Christmas cookies. Everyone takes one of each, and then every participant leaves with a box of a dozen of each cookie to take home.
This is another Christmas fundraising idea that is particularly useful for smaller nonprofits, churches, or schools. If your nonprofit is bigger, and you have access to a large network of volunteers, you can organize several of these events across a couple of days in multiple cities.
This event can be combined with a lot of other fundraising activities: selling warm winter drinks, inviting a celebrity baker (cookbook author or food columnist) to demonstrate some tricks, selling baking supplies etc.
You could even partner with local businesses such as specialty wine shops, delis, bakeries, and trendy hot spots to offer even more food-related items for sale. You can charge a stand fee or just get a percentage of the profits.
9. Storytelling Campaign – A Cool Christmas Fundraising Idea
We talked a bit about the importance of storytelling in our How to Turn your Social Media Followers into Donors blog post.
Compelling stories, especially ones accompanied by videos and photos, can really set your Christmas fundraising efforts into motion.
Smoky Mountain Meals on Wheels, from Maryville, is a small nonprofit with no social media experience. They used the power of storytelling to raise $12,000 in 12 days. They created a Christmas campaign just for Facebook (12 Seniors of Christmas), which aimed to sponsor seniors on food assistance waiting lists.
Design a Christmas campaign you could run using stories of people your nonprofit organization helps. Whether you pick 7, 10, or 12 stories, the important thing is to use compelling stories and share them widely.
What made this particular campaign so successful?
- They used powerful stories that tugged at our heartstrings.
- There was a clear call to action.
- The need was clearly identified and specific.
- The posts were consistent and updates to donors were frequent.
For $3/meal you can provide a hot meal to someone needing it. Just $60 a month sponsors a senior.
This Christmas fundraising idea is great for nonprofits of all sizes!
10. Holiday Soiree
Holiday soiree sounds fancy. The truth is, you can make it as fancy as you wish. It can be a small get-together or a full-blown gala dinner.
Host a nice dinner party and invite all of your closest supporters, your board, volunteers, donors, local businesses, etc.
People expect to attend at least several dinners and dinner parties during holidays, and many prefer this atmosphere to the Santa Village or Polar Plunge, so this idea is great for nonprofits of all sizes.
Work with local restaurants, museums, galleries, orchestras, to secure the space, food, and entertainment. Charge per person/plate to keep costs manageable on your end. You can pair this soiree with an auction or a raffle, but you can also organize it as a stand-alone event.
Also… eggnog, hot chocolate, mulled cider and wine – who wouldn’t want to attend?
Don’t forget! Gratitude matters, so make sure you express it during this dinner.
11. “Offset Your Christmas”
This Christmas fundraising idea is a great way to attract the ever-increasing conscious consumer. More and more individuals are worried about the environmental footprint of Christmas: the Christmas tree, wasted food, excessive shopping, just to name a few big issues.
The good news is…with a little bit of effort, a lot of people can be helped!
- You can organize a “set an extra space at the table” campaign where people can donate money to feed one person at a virtual Christmas table. Modify this concept to suit your nonprofit’s mission.
- Run a “tree twinning” campaign. Environmental charity Climate Stewards invited supporters to ‘link their Christmas tree to a tree in Ghana’ for £10.
An interesting version of this concept popped up just two days ago in London, UK. A pop-up store has just opened, and in this store, every single purchase made goes towards an item for a refugee. The items are delivered via one of the 80+ projects Help Refugees work with across the world. The cheapest item costs only a couple of dollars, but there’s also an option to buy the entire store for $500.
You leave the shop with empty bags, but a full heart!
12. Donating Christmas
This Christmas fundraising idea has enormous potential! Donating one’s birthday has been quite popular, so encourage your supporters to donate their Christmas this year!
Mobilize a network of fundraisers who will, through peer-to-peer fundraising, fundraise for your nonprofit. They can ask their friends, family, and their wider network to donate to your charity instead of purchasing a Christmas gift.
You could also link Christmas to New Year’s Resolutions. Design a campaign which gives people an opportunity to donate their Christmas gift in order to help someone achieve their New Year’s Resolution (e.g. sponsor a child’s New Year resolution to go to school). Alternatively, you can run the campaign by encouraging people to “get a head start on their New Year’s Resolutions” by donating to causes they care about.
13. Christmas Decorations
What’s a Christmas without Christmas decorations? It’s, at least, a much less twinkly event!
There’s a lot you can do with Christmas decorations when it comes to fundraising.
- Offer Christmas decorating services to locals or local businesses in need of decorating. Recruit volunteers and collect small donations in exchange for the decorating work.
- Have a group of volunteers collect unused and unwanted Christmas donations from around the local community and then resell them at a Christmas show or a charity shop (or at one of your events).
14. Christmas Cards and Carols
It’s said that the idea of Charity Christmas Cards started around 1950 when nonprofits began to realize the potential the cards offered for fundraising. Although it’s not innovative, this idea withstood the test of time and is still very effective.
People will be buying cards this holiday season. In fact, although it might seem counterintuitive, more and more people are choosing handwritten printed cards over emails or instant messages.
As a nonprofit, you can opt for:
- Designing your own Christmas cards and selling them online. These can have a general Christmas theme or be tailored to your own nonprofit (e.g. animal-focused cards for animal shelters etc.) If your budget allows, commission your own artists and photographers to produce a suitable design for the cards.
- Allowing your logo to be used on commercial cards. This is a more hassle-free option, but you do receive only a percentage of sales (and you often share the card with other nonprofits).
- Creating your own handmade cards. This is an excellent option if you’re a smaller charity with a few dedicated volunteers ready to cut and place stickers and images. This is also a great option for schools as kids can get involved in crafting.
Christmas carols can be another effective Christmas fundraising idea. This type of fundraising event is perfect for religious group choirs, high school clubs, local music talent and family and friends. Rally your supporters, then empower them to do more than just sing for a cause by making them fundraise on your behalf. Set up a crowdfunding campaign that will allow them to share their personal fundraising pages with friends and family.
You can also let your audience control your ‘playlist’. Let the members of your community know they can text a keyword to receive a message with a mobile-friendly form they can use to add their song of choice for the caroling. You can either have the caroling at an event or have your choir(s) go door-to-door.
15. Santa’s Village
Finally, we can’t possibly conclude this list without Santa Claus. Consider creating a “Santa’s Village” where, after paying a fee, children can get a picture with Santa. You can also have two different fees: one for a photo with Santa, and one that also includes a gift from Santa.
In Santa’s Village, you can also sell hot chocolate, hot cider, and other Christmas treats and drinks. Also, selling wreaths, candles, and decorations can make the entire experience more enticing and help you collect more funds.
An entertaining Christmas fundraising idea will help generate more donations for your cause, especially during November and December. If you want to make the most out of your fundraising this holiday season, try a combination of two or more of the ideas presented above. We hope we’ve inspired you to come up with an idea of your own as well.
Get working, enjoy the holidays, and don’t forget your Donate page! Carry through the emotional impact of these events and campaigns to your website and make sure your supporters can donate online. Make that donation system straightforward and effective. Check out Donorbox.
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