Each year, millions of volunteers give back to their local communities by organizing holiday fundraisers on behalf of the less fortunate. Here are five examples of how volunteers of all ages, ability, and means across the country organize fundraisers to help local charities, people, and even dogs in need for the holidays – to both warm your heart as well as inspire your own own holiday fundraising ideas!
1. Elementary school students in Nebraska adopt military families for Christmas
Every year, Patriot Elementary School in Papillion, Nebraska coordinates a gift-giving fundraiser for children to learn the spirit of giving back to help families in need in the community.
The Parent Teacher Association and the school’s Pride Council set up Christmas trees for each grade level, full of paper ornaments that each list a gift that adopted family members have requested for the holidays. Each participating student buys the gift, wraps it, and places it under the trees, to be delivered to the children in the families in time for Christmas.
The event started years ago to support a military family in the community and has extended to include other families going through a difficult time. The PTO delivers the gifts with a special holiday meal for each adopted family before Christmas.
2. Special needs for California homeless youth
More than 15,000 homeless youth live on the streets of Los Angeles. Covenant House California is the only nonprofit organization with a full-scale outreach effort to bring them necessary food and supplies to make it through cold winter nights and engage them in seeking shelter.
Since 2014, a group of volunteers from the Kabbalah Centre Los Angeles annually canvasses the community for in-kind donations and puts together “blessing bags” of sweaters, protein bars, blankets, toiletries and other gifts for the Covenant House to deliver to youth. Up to 500 bags are assembled to share love and warmth for the holidays.
3. Selling poinsettias to give back to local charities
The Kiwanis Club in Hays, Kansas sells hundreds of poinsettias to pool funding for local charities in need.
Volunteers take orders starting in October and then deliver the plants throughout the community right after Thanksgiving. Twenty-five volunteers helped deliver 400 plants in 2015, raising thousands to help youth charities including CASA of the High Plains, First Call for Help, Hays Arts Council, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Special Olympics, and Hays Area Children’s Center. The plants are locally grown in Kansas.
4. Students rake for charity
In Marshfield, Massachusetts, a group of students invented a grassroots fundraiser that ended up raising more than a thousand dollars in one day. A group of four volunteers from an athletic team came up with the idea to schedule lawn cleanup for homeowners in November, for fall leaves and debris.
Clients would be asked to write checks for $100 to charity in lieu of paying the students. They recruited 20 other student volunteers to serve in three to four person teams, set up a Facebook page, and filled 12 slots. They raised $1,350 in one day on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, for the local food pantry and other charities!
5. Volunteers spend 24 hours locked in kennels for animal care holiday funds
As a #GivingTuesday publicity stunt to raise holiday funding for animals, three volunteers of a Massachusetts Animal Shelter spent 24 hours locked in kennels with their furry friends. Like their pawed counterparts, they received meals and outdoor playtime, but they deprived themselves of all other human comforts. They goal was to raise $5,000 for their charity’s end of year appeal.
From athletes, to church groups, to elementary school students and individuals of all ages, virtually anyone can organize a fundraiser and give back to local charities this holiday season! (Need even more fundraising ideas?)