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11 Winter Fundraising Ideas You’ll Want to Try in 2021

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By Robert Carnes
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Published November 4, 2021
Reading Time: 6 minutes

The start of a new season is the perfect opportunity to test some fresh fundraising strategies.

We’ve talked about timely, effective fundraising ideas for springsummer, and fall. Now, it’s time to brainstorm unique ways to capitalize on the time of year when people are naturally more inclined to give.

Nearly a third of all giving on the Classy platform happens between Giving Tuesday and December 31—10% of that typically coming on the final three days of the year. More than half (54%) of nonprofits start to plan year-end giving in October. It’s not too early to begin taking advantage of this philanthropic season.

Classy understands the value of creative winter fundraising ideas. We’ve published lists of seasonal fundraising ideas in the past, but it’s time for a refresh. Let’s focus on effective ways to raise more in the context of winter 2021.

1. Highlight Donor Matching

Winter isn’t just a time for individuals to give—it’s a great opportunity to solicit gifts from your donors’ employers. According to Classy’s State of Modern Philanthropy report, campaigns that leverage donation matching raise three to five times more than those that don’t.

Double the Donation is an organization that simplifies the donor matching experience. Their research shows the potential impact this strategy could have on your nonprofit:

  • About $2 to 3 billion is donated through matching programs annually
  • An estimated $4 to 10 billion in matched funds goes unclaimed each year
  • Over 18 million individuals work for companies that match donations
  • 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if their gift is matched
  • One in three donors say that they’d donate more with the promise of a matching donation

Read Classy’s recent Q&A with Double the Donation to see how your organization can fully leverage matching gifts this winter.

2. Organize a Foodie Week

What better way to get people out of their houses and together with the ones they love than by sharing a meal? Partner with local restaurants to boost your fundraising efforts this winter during a local foodie week.

Your organization can promote dining at these locations for a week, or possibly even longer. Find your staff and donors’ favorite local spots and promote the opportunity to enjoy a meal while supporting your cause.

Encourage donors and partnering restaurants to spread the word in their own unique ways. Provide them with promotional materials like social media templates, email copy, and co-branded visuals to make it easy for them to market the event to their networks.

If you don’t know where to start when identifying restaurants to partner with, consider reaching out to your local chamber of commerce or travel and tourism board. These groups typically have business relationships with plenty of eateries willing to join in the fun.

3. Push for Recurring Donors

Don’t limit yourself to just one-time gifts this year-end season. Build momentum going into the next fiscal year by encouraging people to sign up for recurring gifts. Ask a handful of your current recurring donors why they give and highlight their testimonials in your digital marketing materials.

Classy provides donors with eight different recurring frequencies to choose from:

  • One-time
  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Bi-weekly
  • Monthly
  • Quarterly (every 3 months)
  • Semi-annually (every 6 months)
  • Yearly (every 12 months)

These flexible options make it easier for donors to set up on-going gifts at the pace they feel most comfortable with. Realize that most recurring donors give to multiple organizations at the same time. Consider identifying some of those charities and find ways to partner together.

4. Launch a Giving Tuesday Campaign

Giving Tuesday, the more generous cousin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is a massive opportunity for nonprofits to advance their missions. In 2021, Giving Tuesday will be on November 30.

Remember that nonprofits across the globe will be asking for donations that day. Find ways to stand out, especially with local donors. Make it easy to give online and explain specifically what the funds will go towards.

Here are some of the top tips to keep in mind when planning your Giving Tuesday campaign:

  • Build a memorable (and consistent) brand with customized messaging and visuals
  • Prepare a design kit with all of the assets your team will need
  • Communicate value with impact blocks
  • Suggest strategic giving amounts to donors
  • Include a recurring giving option with multiple frequencies
  • Test your donor experience

5. Host a Winter Clothing Drive

The colder winter temperatures can be particularly challenging for certain populations in need, like the homeless.

Take the time to organize a clothing drive or similar donation of in-kind resources early in the winter season to ensure adequate resources for your beneficiaries when the coldest temperatures hit in December and January.

When planning a clothing drive, be sure to:

  • Pick an easily accessible place for people to bring their donations. Central, public locations like schools, churches, or community centers are great options.
  • Promote the drive through both digital channels and offline platforms, like flyers and mailers.
  • Make it a competition between different groups to see who can contribute more, or host a kickoff event to energize the community.
  • Provide a list of all the items needed (and which ones you can’t accept). MUST Ministries in Metro-Atlanta has a great example of this on their website.

6. Plan a Virtual Fundraising Event

Just like the rest of the world, nonprofit professionals are also experiencing Zoom fatigue. However, you can spice up your virtual events with some seasonal activities like a holiday movie showing or ugly sweater contest.

With Classy Livenonprofits can power their virtual and hybrid event experiences to increase supporter engagement and raise more for their mission. Take advantage of our virtual event venue to:

  • Easily broadcast your event to a global audience
  • Display live leaderboards, campaign progress, donation activity, and support donations directly within your virtual event
  • Host virtual tables, breakout rooms, and speed networking
  • Build an auction into your agenda
  • Sell merchandise and fixed-price items during your event
  • Use text and email messaging to send event reminders and updates before, during, and after your event

According to Classy’s State of Modern Philanthropy report, four out of five donors who donate to a fundraiser are brand new to the organization. Take advantage of this opportunity to make new connections during the winter season.

Revisit our existing list of winter fundraising ideas and see which ones could be converted into a virtual format. Get people excited about online events rather than dreading another Zoom call.

7. Put Together a Craft Fair

Organize a gathering of local artists and crafters to come together and sell their wares. Bring in funds by selling tickets to both vendors and attendees and by requesting donations at the door.

Not only is this a great way to rally the community, it’s also an opportunity to build brand awareness and loyalty for your organization. Plus, crafts make great holiday gifts.

8. Gather Around a Community Bonfire

There’s nothing like a cup of hot chocolate around a roaring fire.

Entice people to attend your community bonfire event with the promise of live music, food and warm drinks, and fun games for families to play. Showcase your cause by inviting a speaker to share your nonprofit’s story. You can also ask donors to share their stories about why your cause is meaningful to them.

Add a holiday twist by including a themed contest that people can donate to participate in. Something as simple as a cookie eating contest or gingerbread building competition could do the trick.

9. Invite Donors to a Winter Gala

Galas are great fundraisers to host during the winter season. Your nonprofit can elevate the event with a black-tie dress code, or keep it casual and encourage donors to come as they are. You could even invite attendees to wear holiday-themed costumes to add a fun twist.

Virtual or hybrid galas are a great option as well. The HEADstrong Foundation decided on a livestream gala during their 10th annual event in March 2020. Despite the last minute pivot, they were still able to raise $350,000—the same as the year before, but with 60% less expenses.

10. Have a Board Game Night

Who wouldn’t want to play board games for a good cause? Host a game night at your office or a local community center to give everyone a fun reason to come together.

Stock up your supply with plenty of board game options and invite families to bring their own, too. You can make requests for donations or allow families to “rent” the games in exchange for a donation. Just make sure you have plenty of Settlers of Catan to go around.

If you’re interested in sticking with a virtual event, there’s always the live streamed game night option. Whether it’s board games or video games, both are great options to build excitement around your cause.

11. Schedule a Cocktail or Baking Class

Warm people up on a cold winter night by hosting a holiday cocktail-making class. Staff members, volunteers, or even a local bartender could teach donors how to make eggnog or hot cider—either with or without alcohol.

These could just as easily be organized as holiday baking classes. Teach your supporters how to make their own cookies, cakes, or gingerbread and enjoy them together as a group. You could also sell the treats to raise additional money for your cause or donate them to a local food bank. Best of all, these classes work both in-person and online.

What Winter Fundraising Ideas Will You Try?

Capitalize on the giving spirit to raise more for your mission this winter. Find unique ways to engage your donors and attract new supporters with holiday-themed activities that get people excited. Don’t just settle for the same ideas other organizations are using—try something new this year.

Posted in Fundraising

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The Smart Guide to Strong Year-End Fundraising

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