Make sure you’re on the “nice” list: nonprofit holiday giving guide

Make sure you’re on the “nice” list: nonprofit holiday giving guide

‘Tis the season for giving. The end of the year is the perfect time to capitalize on that holiday spirit.

In fact, 31% of overall annual giving takes place in December.

In the months of November and December, roughly $48 billion is donated to nonprofits. And your organization can benefit from the additional charitable cheer!

Check out a few ways to bring in extra donations before the calendar turns to the new year.

Host an event.

The end-of-year ask doesn’t have to be blatant. Donors are usually in the giving mood and might come to the conclusion all on their own.

But you can ease them into it with a little frivolity.

Consider hosting a party for your supporters, board, and staff. The “ask” could be for items you need for the office or your clients. You could even frame the donation as a white elephant swap! Maybe a donor has an old printer that s/he doesn’t need, but that you could use. Or someone could bring in a gift card they know they won’t use, and you can add it to next year’s silent auction.

These types of in-kind donations take the stress off giving financially and help you out, too.

A fun, no-pressure event (we’re talking send out an email invitation, have some food and wine) is a great way to thank those who have supported you all year. It gives volunteers and donors a little face time with the nonprofit. And, it just might put them in the spirit to pull out their checkbooks!

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Remember: Be thankful.

Donors don’t want to be constantly asked for support but never thanked for their generosity.

No matter what route you take this holiday season, remember to show gratitude to your donors and volunteers. Show them how you plan to put their contributions to use and remind them that you couldn’t do it without their help.

Give in someone’s name.

What do you get for the person who has everything? How about a donation to a special cause (yours!) in their name?

Give donors the option of supporting your organization in honor of someone else.

This thoughtful gift is great for so many reasons. The donor feels good about supporting the organization. The in-honor-of individual feels good because they have indirectly helped a worthy mission. And your organization feels good because it gets to reap the rewards of the gift.

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This gift in someone else’s name might even create a new supporter. Send a note to the person letting them know a loved one made a contribution in their name. By hearing from you and learning more about the organization, they could decide to volunteer—or give themselves!

Encourage recurring gifts.

Getting donors to give on the regular helps your organization’s sustainability, and the holidays are a great time to inspire recurring gifts.

Let donors know that recurring donations are an option and ask for it specifically (don’t just place a checkbox and hope they say yes).

Show supporters the benefits of a monthly gift to entice them to give throughout the year. Compel them to up their usual giving by sharing a story of a person the organization has helped. Share with them the impact the monthly gift will have on this person’s life.

Donors who sign up for a recurring donation are offering a symbol of commitment to your mission. Show them how much you appreciate this extra support. Consider making a recurring gift donor circle to give them a little VIP treatment. Give them a little organization swag. Or send them insider information as a thank you!

Think about next year.

Although donors might feel extra-giving during the holidays, they are also extra-busy. Sometimes fundraising appeals go unnoticed and events have to be missed.

And, since it’s such a popular time of year to ask for donations, your organization’s request will likely not be the only one they receive.

Switch things up a bit by sending a donor appeal at the first of the year. Here, you can talk about all you accomplished last year, can thank the recipient for their role in the work, and inform them of what you plan today in the next 12 months.

The ask could be more of a “get us ready for another successful year” approach.


Engage with your supporters during the holiday season to show them how much you care and give them a chance to show how much they care about your organization’s mission.

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Lindsey Thieken

Lindsey is a passionate community-builder and storyteller. When she's not writing, she's traveling, reading as much as possible, and practicing her left hook with her new obsession—boxing.

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