If you think this is another bit of click-bait list of fundraising ideas to do around Valentine’s Day, you’re half right.
But the bigger takeaway here is that February 14 is possibly the biggest untapped day of giving on the calendar. Americans spent around $18.2 billion on gift-giving, flowers, and chocolate on Valentine’s Day 2017. To put this into context, here are some stats around other (non-Christmas and non-Thanksgiving) holiday spending:
- Mother’s Day: $23.6 billion (National Retail Foundation 2017 Survey)
- Father’s Day: $15.5 billion (NRF 2017 Survey)
- Halloween: $9.1 billion (NRF 2017 Survey)
- Easter: $18.4B (NRF 2017)
- Valentine’s Day: $18.2 billion (NRF 2017 Survey)
Claiming the Day
Let’s take a second to play a quick association game: Think about a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or an earthquake. What is the first nonprofit to come to mind? If you’re like most people, you probably answered the Red Cross.UNICEF has Halloween; the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots have Christmas. But which nonprofit owns… Click To Tweet
The biggest key in claiming a holiday for fundraising is combining an accessible peer-to-peer fundraising idea with consistency. To really get something to stick an organization must maintain a dogged consistency to reinforce the idea with consumers year over year. Your organization also needs to show up in search, news, and grassroots efforts by your supporters to make it a staple. Another quiet little secret is making sure you engage local Girl and Boy Scouts groups who are always looking for ways to engage in socially minded ways.
Let’s play a few more holiday-association games:
- Halloween: Which group’s fundraising boxes come to mind? UNICEF has done an incredible job dominating this holiday with their trick-or-treat donation boxes.
- Christmas: You’re walking down the sidewalk in New York and passing by Macy’s. Do you hear the bells? The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle fundraising program with the iconic bells and buckets is a perennial staple capitalizing on the season.
- Christmas gifts, which nonprofit that puts a box in the entryway of the corporate entrance? Toys for Tots does an amazing job of capitalizing on the toy purchasing to give deserving kids gifts.
- Mother’s Day: The May holiday might trigger thoughts of breast cancer awareness or newer contenders like #EveryMotherCounts.
- Father’s Day: Capitalizing on both the holiday and baseball season, Father’s Day is dominated with messages of prostate cancer from the MLB.
- Thanksgiving: Cold temperatures triggered One Warm Coat to start their campaign in 1992 around the day to raise coats for community.
- Thanksgiving: Crazy amounts of wasted food also resulted in donations to Second Harvest and as well as work with local charities to organize soup kitchens.
- Easter: While clearly a massive day for giving to local church parishes, in 1934 an enterprising group called the National Society For Crippled Children launched a campaign called Easterseals. Since then they have renamed the whole nonprofit to capitalize on the popularity of the Easter “seals” program.
Valentine’s Day does have groups like Eve Ensler’s V-Day that promotes ending violence against women globally through performances of The Vagina Monologues and other awareness events. Their efforts have evolved to further awareness activities with One Billion Rising, which is focused on organized campaigns globally. However, this is the day of love and there is still A LOT more room to build on socially impactful uses of the holiday for good.Americans spent around $18.2 billion on #ValentinesDay 2017. Time for a new #GivingTuesday? Here are… Click To Tweet
13 Simple Valentine’s Day Fundraising Ideas
So how can you make Valentine’s Day work for your organization? Here are a few simple starts that dovetail with some of the holiday’s hallmarks (no pun intended). These ideas will be more powerful if they are done with the mindset of peer-to-peer fundraising and connection to your central cause. Rinse and repeat every year to claim the day.
- Flower Power: Flowers are the medium of communication for the day so organize sales campaigns with schools, offices, communities to support the cause. Each rose or carnation can include a gift card that tells a short story of how an extra $5 or $10 went to support domestic violence survivors or creating a safe space for LGBTQ teens. Here are some ideas on designing this from Pinterest boards on Valentine’s day tags.
- Flower Shop: Take Idea #1 to the next level and partner with local flower stores. Negotiate a portion of sales to go to your cause and add custom notes to flowers noting the cause. Think about the way gift wrappers work with department stores, while flowers might not need a gift wrap, there are ways to add value to get donations. If structured properly like holiday gift wrapping, organizations can use VolunteerMatch to find support.
- Chocolate Covered Fundraising: Create chocolate covered fruit or other confections that can be sold. Be unique in tying the product to the cause. Think chocolate pops for pets, or lollipops for land, or making a product that represents your branding (think about all of those pink ribbon cookies served up in October). Again, there are some great chocolate ideas on Pinterest.
- Guess the Love: Make good use of those candy conversation hearts that nobody ever eats: Put them in a jar and accept donations to guess the amount. Let the winner get the hearts (and requisite stomach ache that invariably comes with it), or just let the winner dump them on the boss/principal, ice-bucket style.
- Date Auction: Be careful with this one — you want to make sure that the community understands the expectations of the event — but a good old-fashioned platonic date with some local bachelors and bachelorettes is both on-brand for Valentine’s Day and a good appeal to those who are single on February 14.
- Named Cause Gifts: There are a number of great plant a tree, help a family, and adopt a polar bear in someone’s name causes. These serve as great gifts, especially or a holiday that comes soon after the holiday gift-giving season.
- Cards for a Cause: Similar to flowers, create branded cards with a cause donation spin.
- Candy Grams for Good: Take orders for chocolates or other seasonal candy to benefit your organization — and then fill away. Just make sure Gretchen Wieners gets one.
- Custom Valentine’s Day Greetings – have a local celebrity or staff member record messages of love for people that donate to the cause. A few years ago, DoSomething.org did Valentine’s messages across snapchat made by a staff member dressed as Cupid. Doubling down on this could lead to creating something even more scalable like the tool built by Celeb Dial, but instead of prank calling sends messages of love. Alternatively, you can auction off celebrity greeting videos if you have celebrity partners with tools like CharityBuzz.
- Premium ecards: create branded ecards that audiences can download and send to friends and loved ones to spread a message. Pro-tip: try using a tool like Canva’s card maker to create these.
- Galentine’s Day: Create a day of activity that you can brand and own around the day. Take a page from Leslie Knope and create a fun engagement around Galentine’s Day on Feb 13th. (What’s Galentine’s Day? “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” — Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation)
- Temporary tattoos: Create branded temporary tattoos — because sometimes the tattoos you get for your loved one shouldn’t last forever, but healthy relationships should. Make sure if you create designs that they aren’t time-stamped so that they can be reused the next year with a tool like this.
- Put your organization on Tinder: This is part publicity, but could be a fun guerilla tactic to raise awareness of your organization’s message and DTR (define the relationship) with new donors.
- Email campaign: Send your constituents valentines or ask audiences to make your organization their valentine.
Amplify any of the ideas above by:
- Thunderclap it: Whatever the campaign you go with, have your biggest supporters register to push out a message on the day it matters most.
- Matching gifts: Engage a big donor with the idea of getting them to match the campaign’s efforts.
- Make it a recurring gift: Consider this when you set up the donation page for the campaign. Catching someone when their wallet and heart are open is a great moment to ask for ongoing support, say on the 14th of each month.
These are all just tactics that can be formed into campaigns. The bigger idea is to think with a 30 year lense and create something that can be repeated and adopted by an increasing group of stakeholders. Remember that the biggest floods start with a drop and that their will be a reward to consistency.