December is a much-anticipated month for many nonprofits, replete with the warmth of holiday spirit and a tremendous potential for raising funds. With 30% of annual giving occurring in December, a well-constructed holiday fundraising strategy can generate significant revenue to launch your organization into the new year.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ideas for your nonprofit to implement during the holiday season. To help your fundraising efforts accelerate quicker than Santa’s reindeer, we’ll walk through some popular Christmas fundraising ideas that will make for an unforgettable and impactful year-end:
- Virtual Christmas Fundraising Ideas
- Food and Drink Christmas Fundraising Ideas
- Christmas Fundraising Contests
- Christmas Fundraising Event Ideas
- Bonus: Nonprofit Fundraising Tips
This December, strengthen your relationships with supporters and raise funds with creative, engaging ideas that will put everyone in a festive mood while powering positive change in your community. Let’s get started!
Virtual Christmas Fundraising Ideas
Give your supporters the opportunity to contribute to your nonprofit’s cause while cozied up in their homes with virtual Christmas fundraisers. After all, 63% of donors prefer to give online. In addition to added ease and convenience, taking your fundraising online allows you to reach supporters from all across the country and even the world.
1. Christmas eCards
Christmas cards are a well-known tradition for many people around the world, and are ideal for staying in touch with family members, friends, and acquaintances. This holiday season, make it simple and convenient for your supporters to connect with their loved ones and contribute to your nonprofit’s cause through Christmas eCards.
With the help of online eCard software, your organization can easily produce branded holiday eCards to sell on your website. You can create designs that encapsulate your nonprofit’s cause and allow supporters to add personalized messages for the recipient.
Another effective option is offering Christmas eCards as a form of tribute gift that supporters can make on behalf of their peers, which can serve as both a Christmas card and a present. For example, Habitat for Humanity South Africa effectively implemented this strategy on its website as part of its Christmas fundraising.
2. Christmas Online Auction
Online auctions, unlike in-person ones, are much more cost-effective and capable of attracting more bids from supporters. Include a variety of auction items in your Christmas-themed auction, from your nonprofit’s branded holiday merchandise to vacation packages and gift cards. To procure these items, consider partnering with local corporations who may be willing to donate services or goods for your auction.
3. Virtual Holiday Raffle
Similar to online auctions, your nonprofit can enhance your fundraising results by holding a virtual holiday raffle. You can raffle off enticing Christmas-related items such as wreaths, ornaments, sweaters, gift baskets, and holiday event tickets. This idea provides another opportunity to build relationships with local businesses that can benefit your nonprofit for years to come.
To maximize your success, set up a page on your website dedicated to selling raffle tickets. As you promote your holiday raffle, link to this page in all your communications to encourage participation from your supporters.
4. Matching Gifts
Throughout the year, matching gifts hold significant potential for boosting the impact of your supporters’ donations. Since giving ramps up for the holidays—with 10% of annual giving occurring in the last three days of the year—December is the perfect time to ensure that you’re making the most of your donors’ contributions by refining your matching gifts strategy.
The key to generating matching gift revenue is making it easy for supporters to discover if they’re eligible. Add important details about matching gifts in your year-end communications. Consider using matching gift software so donors can easily check their eligibility with just a few simple clicks on your website.
5. Virtual Christmas Movie Night
Offer your supporters comfort, nostalgia, and connection by hosting a virtual Christmas movie night. Raise funds by selling virtual tickets to your showing. To make the experience even more engaging for your online moviegoers, allow them to vote from a selection of holiday movies to decide which one they’d prefer to watch most.
6. Christmas Text-to-Give
Christmas is also an opportune time to launch a text-to-give campaign. During this heightened season of generosity, facilitate giving for your nonprofit’s supporters by providing them with a holiday-related keyword to text to a designated number. This will take them to your mobile-friendly donation page, where they can make a contribution to your organization.
This option is most effective when implemented along with other fundraising initiatives, such as an in-person event, so keep text-to-give in mind as you peruse the rest of these nonprofit Christmas fundraising ideas.
Food and Drink Christmas Fundraising Ideas
When many people think of Christmas, the holiday’s traditional food and drinks often come to mind. There’s nothing like a delicious meal or mouthwatering sweets to bring people together, so incorporate these Christmas fundraiser ideas in your holiday strategy to attract supporters and leave a lasting impression this winter.
7. Holiday Candy Grams
As Christmas approaches, candy canes begin to pop up everywhere. Spread the holiday sweetness by organizing a candy gram fundraiser for your nonprofit, giving supporters the opportunity to send candy to their loved ones while supporting your mission. All you need is candy and some paper for personalized messaging slips to get started.
To take your candy gram fundraising to the next level, create a page on your nonprofit’s website to sell candy grams online. Get creative with your candy choices by considering peppermint bark and fudge for candy grams as well.
8. Hot Chocolate Stand
Add some warmth to your supporters’ holidays by organizing a hot chocolate stand for your Christmas fundraising. This is an easy and cost-effective way for your nonprofit to engage with people in your local community—all you need is a table, some cups, and plenty of hot chocolate.
Diversify your hot chocolate flavors and offer peppermint or gingerbread hot chocolate to further entice your supporters. Additionally, consider selling branded seasonal merchandise, such as mugs or mittens, at your stand to improve your fundraising potential.
9. Christmas Sweets Sale
If candy canes and hot chocolate aren’t enough for your nonprofit, you might be interested in hosting a Christmas sweets sale to cover all of the iconic holiday treats of the season. To gather enough Christmas sweets to sell, reach out to your staff, volunteers, and supporters to see if they’re willing to contribute some of their favorite seasonal treats for the sale.
When you have everything arranged, be sure to promote your upcoming Christmas sweets sale through multiple channels, from email to social media posts to flyers. On the day of the sale, set up a donation box at the sale for individuals who may be interested in contributing more to your nonprofit’s cause.
10. Holiday Recipe Book
This Christmas fundraising idea can be a perfect addition to your sweets sale or an engaging standalone fundraising initiative. Enlist your staff and supporters to contribute special holiday recipes for your recipe book, then sell copies of the book on your website to raise funds and offer a thoughtful gift option for your supporters to buy this winter.
You can also create eCards to help you maximize your recipe book marketing efforts. For instance, your nonprofit can add Christmas eCards to your website and encourage supporters to send them to their friends and family for free. In addition to their personalized messages, you can include a sample recipe from the cookbook and a link to purchase it online.
For example, California Wines made the most of holiday eCards to promote its monthly newsletter by offering a cocktail recipe book to eCard recipients.
To offer your supporters a more hands-on way to contribute to your mission, gather them together to bake in a holiday cookie-a-thon. Like other popular a-thons, this peer-to-peer Christmas fundraising idea leverages the personal networks of your supporters to acquire support for your organization.
Your fundraising software should enable cookie-a-thon participants to create individual fundraising pages they can link to when reaching out to friends and family. This allows them to secure pledges and donations for however many cookies they bake during the event. All you need to provide is cookie dough!
Once the cookies have come out of the oven, you can sell them to raise more funds or use them in a cookie-eating contest to increase engagement.
12. Christmas Cookie Eating Contest
A little friendly competition can turn your Christmas fundraising into a memorable experience for your nonprofit staff and supporters alike. Gather as many festive cookies as possible and invite those who are interested in competing to pay an entry fee to register. Determine the winner based on who eats the most in a specified amount of time or who eats a set amount of cookies the fastest.
Remember to have a CPR-certified volunteer or staff member present to ensure that your holiday eating contest runs smoothly and safely. To further engage your competitors and spectators, consider selling snacks and branded merchandise at the event as well.
13. Breakfast with Santa
Nothing screams Christmas morning like a festive holiday breakfast. Invite your supporters to bring their families and enjoy breakfast together with special guest Santa to get in the holiday spirit. Charge a fee for entry and collect extra donations at the event.
For breakfast items, keep it simple with a pancake or waffle bar. All you’ll have to buy is pancake mix, and you can have supporters lend their griddles or waffle makers. Alternatively, you can partner with a local restaurant or catering company that’s willing to donate food for your charitable event.
Christmas Fundraising Contests
Encourage your supporters to get involved and vie for first place by organizing a Christmas-themed contest—all to benefit a worthy cause. There are a variety of contests that appeal to different skills and ages, so consider your nonprofit’s supporter base as you review these Christmas fundraising contest ideas.
14. Snowman-Building Contest
If your local area experiences a decent amount of snow during the holidays, a snowman-building contest is a stellar way to enjoy the winter weather, strengthen bonds within your community, and generate valuable revenue to drive your mission.
Location should be your primary consideration when planning a snowman-building contest. There must be enough space and snow for competitors to craft their artwork. Make the experience more enjoyable for participants and spectators alike by coupling this event with a hot chocolate stand.
15. Gingerbread House Contest
For your nonprofit’s design-savvy (or just gingerbread-loving) supporters, consider hosting a gingerbread house contest to raise funds at year-end. Since this event appeals to participants of all ages, consider creating categories for individuals, teams, children, and adults.
Once your competitors have finished building and decorating their gingerbread houses, you can display them publicly, feature pictures on your social media accounts, or even auction them off to collect additional funds.
16. Christmas Trivia Contest
A Christmas-themed trivia contest provides a compelling opportunity for people to gather in support of your nonprofit’s mission and demonstrate all of their holiday-related knowledge.
From the name of Santa’s fastest reindeer to the number of sides a snowflake has, there are countless questions you can gather in the name of Christmas fun. If possible, you can even try to find ways to tie your nonprofit’s cause to some of your trivia questions to center your supporters’ attention on the purpose of your fundraising.
17. Tree Decorating Contest
Christmas trees are one of the most recognizable symbols of the holidays. Depending on your nonprofit’s resources, there are several ways you can host a tree decorating contest as part of your fundraising strategy this winter. For instance, you can provide trees to each decorating team that pays an entry fee to sign up, or you can call for participants to send in pictures of their ornamented trees at home.
Your nonprofit can then assemble a judging team to evaluate tree entries based on quality, creativity, and festivity. You can also let your supporters make the final decision by allowing them to pay a small fee to vote for their favorite entry.
18. Christmas Caroling Contest
For those of your supporters who yearn for the spotlight, organizing a Christmas Caroling Contest can be an effective and festive fundraising event. As you promote your upcoming contest and invite supporters to pay an entry fee to register, remind them that all ages and singing abilities are welcome. What matters most is that everyone has an enjoyable experience while powering your nonprofit’s impact into the new year.
19. Holiday Card Design Contest
Encourage your supporters’ creativity this Christmas by holding a holiday card design contest. Rather than charging for design entries, inspire as many people in your local community and even around the world to submit their holiday card designs for free.
Allow your supporters to vote on their favorite holiday cards in exchange for a small donation to your nonprofit. Award prizes such as branded merchandise to the top designers, then consider converting the winning designs into eCards to sell online to raise more funds.
Due to their versatility, eCards can be a valuable addition to numerous aspects of your Christmas fundraising strategy, from selling tribute gifts to event invitations to increasing brand awareness through peer-to-peer outreach. For contest-type events, your nonprofit can boost engagement by creating eCards that participants can send to invite family, friends, and acquaintances to join as fellow team members or competitors.
Christmas Fundraising Event Ideas
A well-planned Christmas fundraising event can go a long way toward building lasting relationships with your nonprofit’s supporters and maintaining their engagement into the upcoming year and beyond. Events are a great way to spend time with your supporters in person and foster a sense of community.
20. Santa Meet-and-Greet
For children, meeting Santa can be a magical experience that they’ll remember well into their adult years. Raise funds to further your mission by enlisting jolly volunteers and staff members to transform a venue into Santa’s workshop, where families can pay a fee to meet and chat with Santa. Additionally, consider hiring a photographer to take professional photos that families can purchase as mementos of their experience.
Help your supporters get ready for Christmas by offering gift-wrapping services as part of your holiday fundraising. Recruit volunteers with wrapping prowess and set up at a popular location for Christmas shopping, such as a local mall. In addition to charging a fee for each wrapped gift, you can place a donation box at your station, along with brochures or flyers related to your nonprofit’s mission, for those who may want to contribute more to your cause.
22. Holiday-Themed Party
Christmas is a wonderful time for gathering together with loved ones and celebrating each other’s company. Build closer bonds with your nonprofit’s supporters by inviting them to attend a holiday-themed fundraising party, where they can don ugly Christmas sweaters, socialize, and learn more about the positive impact their contributions have made.
Sell tickets on your website and consider implementing a text-to-give campaign that will make giving before and during your holiday party easy and convenient.
23. Christmas Scavenger Hunt
A Christmas scavenger hunt can make for an exciting and memorable fundraiser that appeals to people of all ages. You can easily tailor this event to your nonprofit’s priorities and your supporters’ preferences.
For instance, you can encourage individuals outside of your local area to pay entry fees and participate with a photo scavenger hunt, where participants try to snap pictures of all the Christmas-related items on your scavenger hunt list.
24. Polar Plunge
To engage those who are particularly eager to embrace the winter weather this Christmas, consider hosting a polar plunge to raise funds for your nonprofit. Your peer-to-peer participants will secure pledges from their friends and family for however long they can last in a body of icy water. Give them a chance to channel their inner polar bears—all for a worthy cause.
25. Santa Fun Run
A warmer, but equally effective Christmas peer-to-peer fundraising idea is a Santa fun run. To understand the appeal, just picture a horde of Santas dashing through the snow—a Christmas sight like no other.
Your participating Santas will raise money on your nonprofit’s behalf by collecting pledges for donations from their personal networks. This event presents additional fundraising opportunities through selling snacks, refreshments, and branded merchandise as well.
26. Ice Skating Event
Ice skating is one of the most popular winter activities. Contact your local ice rink to see if they’d be interested in hosting a proceeds night. Then, a percentage of your supporters’ ice skating entry fees can go right back to your organization.
This type of event also pairs well with other Christmas fundraising ideas. Consider selling hot chocolate that people can enjoy when they get off the rink or other holiday-themed snacks. Just make sure you check with the ice rink ahead of time before selling anything at their venue.
27. Christmas Bingo
Bingo fundraisers are fun for the whole family, so why not add a Christmas touch? Transform bingo into a Christmas game by using Christmas-themed bingo boards, playing Christmas music during the event, and offering Christmas-themed prizes.
To raise money for your cause, sell tickets for entry. You can also collect additional donations at the event and host a raffle that will allow you to maximize your donation revenue.
Bonus: Nonprofit Christmas Fundraising Tips
Now that you have enough Christmas fundraising ideas to fill up Santa’s toy bag, lay the groundwork for success by optimizing your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy for the holidays. Maximize your Christmas fundraising results by following these best practices:
- Update your nonprofit’s website. This winter, make it easy for your donors to give by ensuring that your donation page is mobile-responsive, accepts multiple secure payment methods, and features a convenient option to opt into your recurring gifts program.
- Segment your donor messages. Take advantage of your donor data by segmenting your supporters based on relevant characteristics such as giving history and communication preferences. Effective segmentation allows you to send targeted messages that resonate with each individual donor.
- Promote across multiple channels. Reach as many new and existing supporters as possible by promoting your fundraising initiatives through your nonprofit’s social media accounts, website, email newsletter, and direct mail.
- Share your nonprofit’s impact. Help your supporters feel proud and fulfilled by keeping them updated on the positive impact they made possible through their contributions.
- Follow up with supporters. Remember to regularly thank your supporters for their gifts and involvement with your nonprofit. For instance, sending personalized donor recognition eCards around Christmas can cultivate strong donor relationships that will last far beyond the holidays.
While these best practices are especially important for your Christmas fundraising success, turn these into habits to bring into your future fundraising endeavors. This way, you’ll improve your results year after year.
This winter, make the most of these valuable opportunities to generate fundraising momentum that will set your nonprofit up for a fruitful new year. If all you want for Christmas are more ways to boost your organization’s efficiency and success, unwrap these helpful resources:
- How to Make Every Word Count in A Donation Thank You Letter. Learn how to make your donors feel appreciated and valued at year-end with this guide.
- Top 17 Fundraising Software Solutions for Your Nonprofit. Ensure that your nonprofit is equipped with all of the necessary fundraising tools to succeed this holiday season by reviewing these top software solutions.
- 20 Lovely Valentine’s Day Fundraising Ideas + Bonus Tips. Make the most of your nonprofit’s holiday fundraising at other times of the year, such as Valentine’s Day, with these 20 ideas.