15 Fresh Fundraising Ideas to Try This Holiday Season

The holiday giving season is a critical time for nonprofits to engage supporters and raise vital year-end funds. In fact, over 30% of all annual giving occurs in December alone, according to Nonprofits Source.

As we head into the 2024 holiday season, now is the perfect time to start planning your year-end fundraising campaigns. To help you make the most of this crucial period, we‘ve compiled 15 fresh fundraising ideas to try in 2024. From virtual events to local partnerships to creative digital campaigns, these ideas will help you stand out and connect with donors in meaningful ways.

Online Fundraising Ideas for the Holidays

In today‘s digital-first world, online fundraising should be a core part of your holiday giving strategy. Here are some engaging ideas to consider for 2024:

1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns

Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising empowers your supporters to raise money on your behalf. During the holidays, encourage fundraisers to launch their own mini-campaigns with festive themes.

For example, the American Cancer Society‘s "Holiday Hope" P2P campaign invites supporters to raise $500 each to help cancer patients celebrate the holidays at home. Participants receive coaching emails and social media assets to help them reach their goals.

Some tips for an effective holiday P2P campaign:

  • Set a clear fundraising goal and timeframe (e.g. $25,000 by December 31)
  • Provide compelling stories and visuals for fundraisers to share
  • Offer incentives like branded swag or a virtual happy hour with your ED
  • Promote heavily on social media and via email in the leadup to Giving Tuesday

2. Virtual Holiday Galas and Events

With many donors still wary of large gatherings, virtual events are likely to remain popular in 2024. Consider hosting an online holiday gala complete with live entertainment, a silent auction, and a direct appeal.

One creative twist is a "12 Days of Giving" virtual event series. Each day leading up to Christmas or New Year‘s Eve, host a different holiday-themed activity, such as:

  • A cookie decorating class led by a local pastry chef
  • An ugly sweater contest with prizes for the top vote-getters
  • A holiday movie trivia night
  • A "sip and paint" art class with festive designs

Sell tickets or request a suggested donation to attend each event. You can also offer a "full series pass" at a higher price point.

3. Online Holiday Auctions

An online holiday auction is a fun way to engage supporters and drive donations. Collect sought-after items from local businesses, board members, and other supporters. Curate them into themed packages, like:

  • "Home for the Holidays" with cozy decor and gourmet treats
  • "New Year, New You" with fitness classes and personal care items
  • "Winter Wonderland" with ski passes and cold-weather gear

Promote the auction via email and social media leading up to the holidays. Use storytelling to highlight how proceeds will support your mission. Consider using a mobile bidding platform to make it easy for supporters to participate from anywhere.

4. Social Media Fundraising Challenges

Launch a holiday-themed social media challenge to raise awareness and funds. For example, the "Give Thanks Challenge" could encourage supporters to post daily gratitude reflections and donate $10 for each post.

Some tips for an engaging challenge:

  • Choose a catchy hashtag (e.g. #GiveThanks2024)
  • Provide prompts or templates to make participation easy
  • Encourage participants to tag friends and share your brand‘s posts
  • Offer prizes for the most creative or impactful posts

According to Nonprofits Source, 55% of people who engage with nonprofits on social media end up taking some sort of action. Social fundraising challenges are a great way to drive that engagement during the holiday season.

5. Email and Text-to-Give Campaigns

Don‘t underestimate the power of a compelling email appeal during the holidays. According to Campaign Monitor, email accounted for 28% of all online giving in 2020.

Some tips for effective holiday email appeals:

  • Segment your list based on past giving and engagement levels
  • Craft emotionally resonant subject lines that stand out in a crowded inbox
  • Share stories of how donations make a tangible impact
  • Make sure your donation page is mobile-optimized
  • Follow up with a heartfelt thank-you message within 48 hours

You can also use text-to-give campaigns to reach donors on their mobile devices. Choose a simple keyword (like "GIVE") and set up a shortcode with your text-to-give provider. Promote the keyword across all your holiday marketing channels.

In-Person Fundraising Ideas for the Holidays

While online giving continues to grow, in-person events are still a powerful way to connect with local supporters during the holidays. Here are some festive ideas to consider for 2024:

1. Holiday Markets and Gift Fairs

Partner with local artisans, makers, and small businesses to host a holiday market or gift fair. Charge a small booth fee and collect a percentage of sales. Some ways to make it extra merry:

  • Offer festive music, decorations, and refreshments
  • Partner with a local celebrity or influencer to promote the event
  • Create a "Shop for Good" gift guide featuring your vendors
  • Encourage attendees to "round up" their purchases to support your cause

2. Holiday-Themed Fun Runs and Walks

Host a festive 5K run/walk, like a "Jingle Bell Run," "Turkey Trot," or "Resolution Run." Some ideas to make it memorable:

  • Encourage participants to dress up in holiday costumes
  • Provide hot cocoa and holiday cookies at the finish line
  • Offer a virtual participation option for supporters who can‘t attend in-person
  • Partner with local businesses to provide in-kind sponsorships

According to Eventbrite, 84% of run/walk participants are more likely to donate to a cause they believe in after participating in an event. Holiday-themed runs/walks are a great way to build that affinity and engagement.

3. Family-Friendly Holiday Events

The holidays are all about family togetherness. Host an event that appeals to supporters of all ages, like:

  • "Pancakes with Santa" breakfast
  • "Reindeer Games" field day with holiday-themed relay races
  • "Polar Express" themed train ride
  • "Elf Academy" workshops where kids can make gifts and cards

Charge an entry fee per family and offer additional opportunities to give, like a holiday raffle or bake sale. Partner with local businesses to secure in-kind donations and sponsorships.

4. Local Holiday Business Partnerships

Team up with local businesses that want to give back during the holidays. Some partnership ideas to pitch:

  • "Round Up at the Register" campaign where customers can donate their change
  • Portion of sales donated on a particular "Giving Day"
  • Co-branded "Shop for Good" gift baskets sold in-store and online
  • Employee volunteer day at your organization

Make sure to choose business partners that align with your mission and values. Provide them with key messaging, graphics, and other assets to help promote the partnership to their customer base.

Creative Holiday Fundraising Ideas

Looking for something a bit outside the box? Here are some unique ideas to spark your creativity for 2024:

1. Holiday-Themed Crowdfunding Campaigns

Launch a crowdfunding campaign with a festive twist. For example, the "12 Days of Impact" campaign could feature a different giving opportunity and impact story for each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas.

Some tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign:

  • Set a clear and achievable fundraising goal
  • Offer compelling rewards or perks for different giving levels
  • Share frequent updates and behind-the-scenes content
  • Leverage your network to help promote the campaign
  • Follow up with a thank-you video or virtual event for donors

According to Nonprofits Source, the average crowdfunding campaign raises $9,237. With a compelling holiday hook, you may be able to exceed that benchmark.

2. Custom Holiday E-Cards

Design a set of custom holiday e-cards for donors to send to loved ones. Charge a small fee per card, with proceeds supporting your mission. Partner with a local artist or graphic designer to create the cards pro bono.

Some ideas for card themes:

  • Festive illustrations featuring your organization‘s mission (e.g. animals for a shelter)
  • Inspiring quotes about gratitude, generosity, and community
  • Personalized cards with the donor‘s name and a message about their impact

Promote the cards across your email list and social media channels. You can also pitch them to local businesses as an alternative to traditional corporate holiday cards.

3. Year-End Impact Appeals

While not a standalone "idea," a powerful year-end appeal is essential for any nonprofit. Some tips to make yours stand out:

  • Focus on a single, compelling story that illustrates your impact
  • Use vivid imagery and sensory details to bring the story to life
  • Make a clear and specific ask (e.g. "$50 provides a week of meals")
  • Segment your appeals based on past giving history and interests
  • Include a postscript (P.S.) with an extra nudge to give

According to M+R‘s 2021 Benchmarks, year-end email appeals had an average response rate of 0.10%, compared to 0.07% for other fundraising emails. Spending extra time to craft a compelling appeal can pay off big.

4. Employee Giving and Matching Programs

Many companies offer employee giving programs that can boost your holiday fundraising. Some ways to tap into this opportunity:

  • Research companies in your area that offer employee giving and matching
  • Share a list of these companies with your donors and encourage them to participate
  • Provide email templates and social media posts for donors to use in making requests
  • Offer to host a "lunch and learn" or provide a video message for employees
  • Thank participating companies on social media and in your annual report

According to Double the Donation, an estimated $4-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed each year. Don‘t leave this money on the table for your holiday campaigns!

Tips for Successful Holiday Fundraising

Here are some additional best practices to keep in mind as you plan and execute your holiday giving campaigns:

1. Start Planning Early

Don‘t wait until mid-November to start planning your year-end appeals. Ideally, you should have your calendar and key assets ready to go by early fall. This will give you plenty of time to build anticipation and secure any partnerships or sponsorships you need.

2. Leverage Partnerships

From local businesses to social media influencers, partners can help expand your reach and lend credibility to your campaigns. Think about potential partners who share your values and have a vested interest in your success. Make sure to provide them with key messaging and visuals to keep your brand front and center.

3. Promote Across All Channels

Don‘t rely on a single channel to carry your entire holiday fundraising campaign. Leverage a mix of email, social media, website content, direct mail, and even text messaging to reach donors where they are. Just make sure to customize your messaging for each platform.

4. Show Gratitude to Donors

Giving is an emotional act. Make sure your donors feel appreciated and valued for their support. Send a heartfelt thank-you email or handwritten note within 48 hours of receiving a gift. Consider sending a small token of thanks, like a custom ornament or a holiday card featuring those you serve.

5. Follow Up in the New Year

Don‘t drop the ball on donor stewardship once the holidays are over. Send an email in early January sharing the results of your campaign and thanking donors again for their generosity. Consider sending a brief survey to collect feedback on what worked well and what could be improved for next year.

The holiday giving season offers a huge opportunity for nonprofits to connect with donors and raise critical funds. With a little creativity and advanced planning, you can make the 2024 holiday season your best yet.

The key is to offer multiple ways for supporters to get involved, from online campaigns to in-person events to peer-to-peer fundraising. By leveraging partnerships, promoting across channels, and stewarding donors beyond the holidays, you‘ll be well on your way to exceeding your year-end goals.

Need more inspiration? Check out these additional resources:

Remember, it‘s never too early to start planning for holiday giving success. Start brainstorming with your team now, and you‘ll be more than ready to deck the halls come December.

Happy fundraising!