Harness the Holiday Spirit for Your Nonprofit Campaign

Any experienced nonprofit knows the holiday season is one of the most important times to pull in donations. While consumers are out spending billions on gifts each year, they are also seemingly more willing to open their wallets for charities of all stripes.

The reasons for the season are varied. In general, there is a spirit of generosity that flows through many people in the time between Halloween and New Year’s Day. More practically, many donors also want to make donations before the calendar year ends so they can get tax write-offs in April.

Nonprofits have become attuned to these trends, and many have developed easy-to-replicate strategies for fundraising for all types of organizations. At the DMA Nonprofit Conference in Washington D.C. Feb. 18 and 19, several insiders will reveal how they take advantage of this end-of-the-year giving. At the ”Giving Season SPLURGE: Mail More, Model More, and be Way More Merry as you Double Holiday Revenue” on the second day of the conference, leaders from the Wounded Warrior Project, DCDR Fundraising Group and Wiland will discuss via several case studies how they’ve succeeded during the holiday season.

The public’s sense of generosity at the end of the year is more than just a trend and needs to be considered by every nonprofit.

“As the economy has recovered, people tend to give more,” Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, an alliance of nongovernmental international organizations, said in an interview with USA Today. “We also are more aware of the challenges others face. As Americans feel better off and yet recognize that others are in need, they tend to dig deeper into their pockets and help.”

The best end-of-year campaigns can speak to both reasons people give around the holidays.

"Many of our members are dependent upon a good holiday season for a large portion of their annual fundraising," Worthington continued. "There’s the practical aspect, which is that it’s the end of the year and people want to make sure their giving is done before a new calendar year, and there’s the fact that we spend time with our families, we think about others and want to have an impact on the world around us."

However, experts find that donors are not so great at seeking out nonprofits. Instead, they need to be approached.

"Historically, this is when nonprofit organizations have made the biggest push in terms of fundraising appeals,” notes Steve MacLaughlin, an executive for fundraising service provider Blackbaud. "The number one reason people give to charity is because they’re asked.”

Nonprofits can tap into these potential donors in a variety of ways.

“Generosity is an important lesson that many parents want to bestow upon their children,” claims Geoff Livingston, a blogger who writes about nonprofit fundraising. “Create ways for parents and grandparents to teach children the importance of compassion, empathy and giving by developing small gifts to bestow.”

Don’t worry – you don’t need to be an advertising maverick to receive holiday donations (although that doesn’t hurt, either). Remember: People want to give.

“Not everyone can write a cheeky Santa campaign. That’s OK!” Livingston continues. “People seem to forget that one of the primary celebrations of the holiday season is gratitude. So instead of trying to act like Don Draper, just be sincere and publicly thank your supporters for how they have helped your cause this year. Tell stories of individual impact and what it has meant. Use pictures and videos wherever possible.”

Personality and positivity are huge, as well as relating important statistics and stories regarding impact. While a nonprofit can passively enjoy the public’s increased fondness for giving around the holidays, a strong campaign can improve this holiday revenue exponentially.

 This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for Nonprofit Federation Conference, Feb. 18-19, 2016, in Washington, D.C