Holiday Giving Campaign Ideas for Nonprofits: How to Engage with Donors and Increase your Impact Year-Round

Digital Fundraising

No matter the season, you’ll want to gather momentum for your organization by planning campaigns throughout the year. Check out our ideas for staging an awesome seasonal giving campaign.

1. Spring: Try an environmental campaign (0:19)

The environment is a hot topic right now. Even if your organization isn’t inherently environmental, promote the sustainable methods you use to get the job done, such as accepting paperless donations or using eco-friendly suppliers.

NeverThirst launched a successful environmental campaign in 2009 called WOD for Water urging donors get together, work out, and donate to supply clean water to people in need. The campaign funded over 1,000 water filters and brought clean water to over 5,000 children in Cambodia.

2. Summer: Take a challenge campaign for a spin (1:04)

The sunshine makes people more active, encouraging them to go outside and have fun. With a seasonal giving campaign centered upon a challenge, you have the opportunity leave a great impression on your donors—and even to go viral. 

Read: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. By prompting donors to either douse themselves in ice water or donate to fund ALS research—and asking donors to nominate their Facebook friends to get in on the fun—ALS Association’s campaign took on a life of its own, quickly multiplying its reach through the challenge-your-friends component.

By the numbers:

  • Over 120 million social media users engaged
  • Over 9 million videos shared
  • Over 100 million dollars raised
  • Over 2 million new donors acquired
  • Over 400 celebrities participated

TL;DR: Have fun and expand your audience big time.

3. Fall: Test out an animal-themed campaign (1:50)

Why animals? Social media loves animals, and unlike the falling leaves, love for cute baby animals is evergreen.

In 2014, Social Tees Animal Rescue used Tinder, a popular dating app, to share profiles for 10 abandoned dogs up for adoption. Altogether, the 10 dogs snagged a staggering 2,700 matches—daunting to even the most prolific Tinder users—in less than a week. Moreover, the campaign received significant media coverage.

4. Winter: How about a *drumroll* seasonal giving campaign? (2:26)

Sure, you could’ve predicted this one, but it’s no joke that the holiday spirit moves people to give. Nearly one third of annual giving happens in December, and according Network for Good’s 2015 Online Fundraising report, the last 3 days of 2014 made up 12% of the year’s donations. Talk about seasonal giving. By planning a targeted effort for the holiday season, your nonprofit can gain big by placing donation opportunities in front of donors when they’re feeling most generous.

One example of a successful seasonal giving campaign was hosted by the Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society for #givingtuesday. Targeting previous donors through email marketing, MECCS encouraged these donors not only to contribute again, but also to hit specific fundraising goals in order to achieve matched donations and bonus funds. The campaign raised over $50,000 in 24 hours, and a follow-up/thank you email on Wednesday catapulted MECCS to their second best day ever.

5. BONUS: Want to appeal to millennials in every season? Work with an influencer (3:12)

Using social media influencers to promote your nonprofit is one of the most popular ways brands reach millennials. By working with the right influencers, you can build both credibility and visibility for your organization.

One successful campaign that combines both an influencer *and* animals was conducted by Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends partnered with Walter (@thedailywalter), a famous Instagram dog, to host a spontaneous giving day, asking followers to post photos under #WaltersCheesyBday. Each each photo resulting in money donated, and in under 24 hours, the campaign raised over $600.

FYI: Before partnering with any influencer, make sure to check more than just follower count. Followers easily can be bought, but the truth can often be found in engagement data—which you can and should ask for upfront.

To learn more about influencer campaigns, check out Influencer Marketing 101.

Bonus – take a look at ideas for Valentine’s Day fundraising.