’Tis the season for giving, and there’s no better time of year to ask for donations—in fact, 30% of all annual charitable giving happens in December. People start looking for good causes to share their holiday donations with. Online giving is a popular way to donate, and crowdfunding campaigns typically get a big boost during the holiday season.
During the holidays, some great ways to boost attention (and donations) for your fundraising campaign are to tell a personal story, use high-quality photos, and add a winter fundraising idea. Why not try one or more of these winter fundraising ideas to kick off this giving season?
Holiday fundraising events
1. Holiday light tour
If your neighborhood is known for its holiday lights, give groups of people walking tours in the name of your cause, with participants paying by way of a small donation. You can also serve hot apple cider and other holiday treats for a small fee (again, in the form of donations to your cause).
2. Polar bear plunge
The idea is simple: Hardy volunteers take the plunge into the icy waters of a lake, river, ocean, or pool, no wetsuits allowed. Ask competitors to contribute an entrance fee in the form of a donation to your fundraiser. Or have them raise funds through sponsorships from friends and family. Charging spectators a small fee in the form of a donation to your cause is another option, or simply “pass the hat” (or take donations via a mobile device) at the event. Don’t forget to post the action shots.
3. Holiday concert
People love holiday music, and its themes inspire giving. Enlist local choirs, bands, soloists, and other musicians to participate in a community-wide holiday concert. Local venues may be willing to host your event (remember that weather is a factor, so you may need an indoor space). Sell tickets in the form of donations to your fundraiser. Remember to bring a mobile device to the concert so people can donate to your campaign as they enter.
4. Gingerbread house party
This family-friendly event is the perfect way to combine fundraising with a classic holiday party. Send out an invite (via email and social media, perhaps using a Facebook Event) to family, friends, and neighbors. Ask for RSVPs to get an idea of how many gingerbread houses you’ll need—buying supplies in bulk may get you a discount. Select a day, time, and place to host the party. Ask attendees to make a donation to your cause as the price of admission. Once the gingerbread houses are complete, have everyone take photos of their creations and share on social media, along with a link to your fundraiser. This can be especially effective if your cause is related to housing, food, families, or children.
5. Super Bowl party
The Super Bowl doesn’t happen until early February, but a fundraiser party at this time can be a good choice because it won’t compete with the busy holiday season. To make the event more fun, offer donation options such as $20 for every field goal or $50 for every end-zone dance. Print out a sheet showing these options and ask people to make their selections before the game starts. At the end of the party, collect the pledged amounts—people will be especially glad to pay up if the team they’re rooting for wins.
Simple acts of service
6. Christmas tree disposal
After the holidays, people often wonder how to get rid of their Christmas trees. Solve the problem with a solution that doubles as a fundraiser: Ask people to place their tree outside for easy pickup, then rent a truck for a day and gather and dispose of your neighbors’ trees. As payment for your service, ask people to make a donation to your fundraiser. Your city (or a nearby one) will likely have a tree recycling program, allowing you to dispose of the trees for free.
7. Hot chocolate
Here’s an easy way to help warm people up at football games and other local sporting events. Set up a hot chocolate station. Bring a small table if needed, along with an insulated container of hot chocolate, cups, and whipped cream. Don’t forget a mobile device to accept donations. Before the event, publicize your pop-up hot chocolate stand on social media to spread awareness and maximize donations.
8. Gift wrapping
Partner with a craft store, gift shop, or any store that provides gift wrapping. Gather friends who are good at wrapping gifts, choose a time during peak holiday shopping hours, and wrap people’s gifts in exchange for donations to your cause. Make sure your volunteers are equipped with wrapping paper, tape, ribbon, blank gift cards, nice pens, and any other needed supplies. Price your services to cover your expenses, bring in extra funds for your cause, and help people feel they’re getting a good value while supporting you. Bring a mobile device to take donations.
9. Appreciation station
January 21 is National Appreciation Day. Make it easy for others to celebrate by hosting an Appreciation Station at any venue with lots of foot traffic. Create a one-stop shop where people can show their appreciation for loved ones by purchasing gifts of flowers, handmade cards, sweets, and more. Offer prices for individual items and bundled sets, priced to cover your expenses, bring in extra funds for your cause, and make people feel like they’re getting a good value while supporting you.
Festive fundraising contests
10. Ugly sweater contest
Some of us end up with ugly holiday sweaters—and some put a lot of effort into finding the worst ones they can. Make something beautiful out of this silly trend by hosting an ugly sweater party for your cause. Make treats to serve, or do it potluck style. If you want to get crafty, make your own trophies for Ugliest Sweater, Most Hideous Color, Itchiest Fabric, and other silly categories. Set up a donation station where guests can give to your fundraiser.
Issue a challenge to your neighborhood: Who has the best soup recipe? Invite both cooks and tasters to a grand soup-off. Those who bring soup can get in free, but everyone else must make a donation to your cause. Have tasters vote for the best soup, or appoint a judging panel. Invite a panel of three local chefs to judge the soups and crown a champion.
Spread cheer with holiday fundraising
The giving season is nearly upon us. Amid the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, and travel, taking the time to help others—and accept the help we need—can remind us of what the holidays are all about.
We hope these winter fundraising ideas help make your season bright. To learn more about making the most of the charitable giving season, see our post Crowdfunding Best Practices for End-of-Year-Giving.
For more season-themed fundraising ideas read out 11 Festive Fall Fundraising Ideas to Bring in More Donations.