100+ holiday fundraising ideas for charities, to use in your many holiday appeals, festive campaign and events. With links to dozens more, plus resources and people who will help you for free. But I really need your support by sharing the #FestiveFightback as widely as possible; social media, newsletters, just tell people, whatever. Let's help as many charities as we can.
This Christmas will be even tougher and lonelier for many of our beneficiaries and a fifth of charities estimate they will not be able to fully deliver their services, let alone cope with additional demand.
However, COVID restrictions will significantly impact festive season commercial activities and, whilst that's not good, it offers charities a real opportunity to raise desperately needed funding, just when it's most needed. The #FestiveFightback aims to help you do that - and have some fun, because we could all do with some of that right now.
It's not all about tinsel and commerce....
It's been a really tough year, so don't forget to say thank you to your supporters.
- And too many charities talk about it, but don't actually thank staff and volunteers. Even if you're one of the great ones that does, an extra thank you for the brilliant work they do isn't wasted.
- Or even go one better, by nominating your awesome volunteers for a fantastic free stay in a posh hotel. Apply to Room To Reward. It's completely free.
- Is it time to arrange your Christmas party?
- And how about a handwritten Christmas card from the CEO, directors or trustees?
- And if you're one of those great charities that gives staff a little something extra, if you avoid cash or cash vouchers, you can also avoid paying tax - more here.
- And don't forget to give them a shout out on your social media.
- It's also time to update your Christmas card list for stakeholders and, not least, funders. Remember to put more into those you most need to engage. Ideas I've used in the past have included circulating an entire pack of cards at the start of a trustee meeting and inviting everyone to sign them. You can do the same with staff and beneficiaries.
- It'll be even lonelier for some this year, so if you can, send a card to your beneficiaries too.
- Ordering cards branded for your charity can work well and you can sell these too, and if it works for you, handmade cards by staff/beneficiaries can work really well.
- Got Google Ads? Get your Christmas campaign set to go with some sweet seasonal key words and awesome adverts, to get those donations rolling in.
- And don't forget your social media - here are 5 tips on running a Christmas campaign and, for inspiration, some of the best charity Christmas campaigns to create a bit of Christmas cheer. We could all do with some of that right now. Get started by...
- Nominating your charity/CIC for a £1000 - Ecclesiastical's 12 Days Of Giving.
But this is about making money and I'm Scottish, so here we go....
Get your fundraising #FestiveFightback off to a flying start, with a 'No'vember challenge? Say no to something for 30 days - alcohol, cigarettes, red meat. A bit like Lent, but with tinsel.
If you want traditional and a Santa Run works for you, great and you could even hold a virtual one. You could link it (or any other activity) in to Advent (the 4 weeks before Christmas).
If multiple Santa sightings in the streets might cause some consternation amongst the kids, here are more ideas.
- But why not kick off your awesome Christmas fundraising early with an Alternative Black Friday(27 Nov).
- It's not just for big charities. You can join the Local Giving £1m matched coronavirus fund, but it costs £80 plus VAT, so instead:
- Try Work For Good's #SmallBusinessStar match funding campaign starting 1 Dec, but you can join now.
- Save money and do something for the planet, by sending e-cards, with a donation for you, obviously - Making A Difference. Here are 5 tips for a Christmas e card campaign.
- Offer the opportunity to offset your Christmas, perhaps by setting an extra place at the dinner table, or twinning a tree, and making a donation.
- If you have access to suitable greenery, such as ivy, run a festive wreath workshop, or just make it into wreaths to sell.
- How about a virtual Christmas tree fundraiser? Visu Fund offer free ones to charities. Thank you to Emily Grint for this idea.
- A video chat with Santa at the North Pole, with an elf themed treasure hunt. Parents send personal details in advance, with a present reveal during the call.
- Do your charity staff/volunteers, have useful skills? How about vouchers, in return for donations, to give as presents - online classes in wellbeing, yoga, cooking, whatever.
- Host virtual office parties, in return for donations. Video conference drinks, with a scavenger hunt (1st person to find an item in their house, such as a mince pie) or quiz. Here are Charity Digital's top 10 virtual event ideas, their most cost effective online events platforms, and here's a downloadable virtual quiz night fundraiser.
I'm just getting started...
- Apply to be part of a Christmas newspaper appeal.
- Join the Big Give Christmas Challenge to access matched funding.
- Create a calendar or advent calendar. Thankfully, taking your clothes off is no longer mandatory.
- Or how about a reverse advent calendar - invite your supporters to donate an item a day for set number of days.
- Or even a digital advent calendar. Want more festive digital ideas? Here are 20 from Charity Digital News.
- Get your festive season social media calendar sorted in advance and upload it into a social media management system, to make life easy.
- Set up Amazon Smile and invite supporters to buy your charity a Christmas present.
- Everybody loves Secret Santa, so why not encourage supporters to add a 'Secret Santa Extra' option. Those who do, donate to buy an item for your beneficiaries from your charity shopping basket.
- And, if you run a charity shop, take advantage of your low prices by having a Secret Santa display in your window.
- It's already been a bit challenging, but why not capitalise on that by holding a 2020 Challenge - run, hop, skip, bake, whatever. If you're a sight related charity, the puns are optional.
- Or go old school with a Christmas challenge fundraiser, such as a 'polar plunge' in the sea or a local pool. With suitable safety arrangements, obviously.
- Do you know a local company that might like to kiss goodbye to an awful year by doing good and inviting their staff to donate their last hour's pay in 2020? If their payroll can't do it, people could donate to your fundraising page on pay day instead.
- Fundraisers are endlessly inventive, so learn from others. Here are virtual fundraising ideas during COVID, virtual fundraising ideas when you're stuck at home and 20 'old, but gold' Christmas fundraising ideas from way back in 2014.
Can't be miserly at Christmas, here are even more...
- Hold a Christmas Fare or Bazaar, or breakfast with Santa and his helpers.
- If that doesn't work for you, how about pre-recording your event? Here are the top 10 virtual fundraising ideas, a free online guide to running virtual fundraising events and event management and engagement apps to help you.
- Or jump on the Bake Off bandwagon with a Christmas cookie bake off.
- If you're lucky enough to know Mary Berry personally, ask her for a recipe, a quote and a picture you can use to power up your promotion.
- OK that was a very long shot, but do you have any other celebrity chefs in the local area you could ask?
- You don't? How about asking other celebrities to give you their favourite Christmas recipe and why they like it so much - for your celebrity Christmas recipe list If you don't have enough, throw in some cocktails, including one named after your charity. Non-alcoholic are just as good as alcoholic and a lot better for you.
- Or a Christmas quiz or games evening, or an auction, or go large and have a Christmas Ball. Here's how to hold a charity virtual auction.
- How about a Christmas concert, or carol service and, COVID not permitting, who doesn't like (socially distanced) Carol singers.
- If don't have the resources to do that, could you partner with a local village hall, pub, restaurant? They host, you run it. (Thanks to David Morgan for that one).
- Offer a 'local Santa' service - parents deliver presents for their child to you, plus a donation, and on Christmas morning Santa delivers it to their house.
- Invite supporters to set-up a Christmas shopping packing or gift wrapping service in a shop or shopping centre.
- Go one step further, by creating a pop-up shop that allows people to 'buy' products or services for your beneficiaries.
- Why not have home-made Christmas crackers to sell, with a heart warming message about your work, instead of a joke. I may already have mentioned that I'm Scottish. If you are too, include an ask as well.
- Or home-made Christmas decorations - here are 45 ways to do that.
- Either might even be something your beneficiaries could have fun doing. They could even add a short personal Christmas message to each one they make. If you're a cat charity, don't - they'd probably love being involved, but you may not end up with many decorations.
- If that doesn't work for you, this Christmas will be even more lonely for many. Hold a toy/food appeal, or the opportunity to ‘buy’ Christmas hampers to be made up for delivery to your beneficiaries.
But times are tough...
And people are going to say 'no', so it's important to keep going.
- Find out who has contacts with local shops and businesses and use them.
- If you don't have any, I’ve had a lot of success by just starting at one end of a High Street and going into each shop in turn, asking for the manager and making an ask.
- I usually try to position myself next to the tills, where customers can overhear, because that can make saying no a bit embarrassing.
- What if the shop/shopping centre won’t donate, or let you run gift wrapping, or sell stuff? Simples, ask them to sell for you. At the tills, because you get more sales than on the shelves. Christmas cards, crackers, decorations...
- Still no luck? Before you start out, ask a local printer to create some Christmas appeal stickers for your collection tins. If they say no to your original plan, give them a Christmas appeal tin.
- Success, but you’re not finished yet. Invite them to make their Christmas support a permanent arrangement. When you go back after Christmas, thank them profusely, explain the real difference their kindness has made and offer them a replacement tin.
The Government has more money than you do, so get them to contribute too:
- Gift Aid can be claimed on your Christmas tin and bucket collections using the small donations scheme.
- If you're VAT registered, claim VAT exemption for your fundraising events.
And you could probably do with some help too:
- Get your trustees to join in. This Charity Excellence resource gives you 20 ways in which they can do that and ideas about how to get them engaged to do so.
- And maybe some extra volunteers too; try the great people at Reach Volunteering.
- And with lots of people isolating, maybe consider some micro-volunteers?
- And what about design for your fundraising material, or flyer, or poster or maybe even some Santa stickers? Or someone to help with your video editing?
- Or some pro bono marketing to get the message out there - Pimp My Cause.
- Need prizes for your auction or raffle - contact Charity Escapes.
And being Scottish, I'm pretty miserable....
Let it snowor rain, blow, whatever, but don't get caught out by the mundane stuff we sometimes overlook.
- You don't want the heating to fail, just as it arrives, so you've had your boilers serviced and repaired the 'couple of loose slates' that might just turn into a huge problem, right? If it doesn't look good, get some pro bono property advice from Land Aid.
- And, when did you last review your insurance?
- And in case it does go horribly wrong, is your staff contact list up-to-date?
- Or better still do you have a cascade list, where one person phones several people, who them phone others in turn; much quicker and easier?
- Do you have an up-to-date, workable contingency plan? Even if you manage to come through a Game of Thrones type winter unscathed, the pipes might burst come Spring........ Maybe you should have checked the lagging last October, when you still had time to do something about it.
- And, finally, if you're closing or reducing services over Christmas, get the message out early and clearly to everyone.
Back to fundraising, but remember to keep everyone safe. Here's the Fundraising Regulator's guidance.
Work off those extra pounds after Christmas…
- Tackle post-Christmas lethargy by holding an event to get people, out, active and having fun.
- For example, encourage people to work off all those mince pies with the 12 miles of Christmas or a virtual event held over the 12 days of Christmas, which begin 25 Dec and end 6 Jan.
- If you prefer motor transport to running, run a Christmas tree disposal service.
- Failing that, offer an unwanted presents service, to sell in your shop, or to be used by your charity. Or invite them to sell them on E Bay and donate to you via E Bay for charity.
- Invite people to make an early New Year resolution, to do good by joining you as a supporter or volunteer, or undertake a challenge, sponsored by family and friends - lose those extra Christmas pounds, go 'dry' in January, get fit, give up smoking, whatever.
- Make your own early New Year resolution. Charity Excellence has 11k members, nearly half of whom rate it 10/10. Oh yeah, here comes the sales pitch, you say. Please, I'm Scottish.
- It has the only comprehensive COVID funder database, 50 funder lists and 3 downloads of 100+ free funding finders. Plus 200+ organisations that give charities free goods and services. Don't believe me? Have a look at this and here's a taste of all the free stuff you can get. You can even run 'Tax Reliefs' in the query system and it'll find all the ones you're not claiming and link you to the guidance you need to get it. Sign your charity up now. Everything is free, but don't tell anyone, I have a reputation to maintain.
- And why not make another resolution, to open an online shop. Here's how to get started and here's how to build a shop on E Bay.
- Or join some of the many other fundraising platforms - there are 70+ in this Charity Excellence resource, including 8 for auctions/selling.
- Or get connected and get help from the fantastic people in our sector, by joining one or more of the 50+ charity groups in this Charity Excellence resource.
- Or make sure you're up-to-date on all the latest, by signing up to a newsletter, such as UK Fundraising, or for the latest in the rapidly developing world of digital, Charity Digital News.
- If you've any energy left, arrange a New Year's Eve event. If it's virtual, if you have a supporter or sister charity in an earlier time zone why not connect to showcase your work and get the party started early?
And don't forget to showcase your brilliant work with some PR
- Make a video and get it out on social media. Here's how to make a Christmas video on a shoestring budget.
- If you don't have great social media reach, join your local town and village Face Book groups and post in those.
- And maximise any PR opportunities - a shout out by your local radio station or an article in the Media. Here's how to write and pitch a press release, how to get into the local and regional media to offer free UK press release distribution to non-profits.
- If that won't work for you, try your local parish or village newsletters/magazines.
And Fundraising isn't just for Christmas...
It's an opportunity to better engage your supporters and turn one-off involvement into ongoing support in 2021. Make sure that you appropriately thank everyone who supports you.
Christmas helper badges, thank you certificates, social media shout-outs, mentions in posts and press releases, photo opportunities, letters, e mails, phone calls, whatever works for them.
I wish you every success and a fantastic 2021. To help, I've made my own early New Year resolution. When you log-in to the CEF on your 1st day back at work, I'll have something good for you to get your 2021 fundraising off to a flying start. If your haven't registered yet, join the 11,000 other members in our community, by registering now.