The winter holiday season is permeated with feelings of peace on earth and the desire to help others. It is this time of year that people are more willing than ever to share their time and their money to help out a good cause.
While the winter holidays is the time of giving, it is also the time of many religious holidays which has to be considered in your communications.
According to a 2007 report by the Pew Research Center, 16.1% of the US population are not affiliated with any religion; Americans who are members of any Protestant denomination make up 51%. Fewer than 25% of the US population describes themselves as Catholic; Jews made up 1.7%; Buddhists 0.7%; Muslims 0.6%; other religions and unknown made up less than 5%.
Including other religions
While you may have your own religious preference, the recipients of your fundraising communications may not share that preference. One way to include everyone in your winter fundraising efforts is to give other religions equal mention while also acknowledging those who do not celebrate religious holidays. Without this inclusiveness, it is easy for a topic such as religion to come between people.
Sure, not everyone may care about if their religion isn’t represented, but if it were, there might be more of a willingness to give – or give more.
Your goal is to further your cause, and including other religions allows you to make everyone feel welcome to give. This concept of inclusion can carry over into any fundraising events where you might have holiday decorations as part of your decor, which means you’d have to make sure that other religions are also represented.
Foregoing religious symbols
If your group caters to a very diverse population, or the mere thought of trying to include other religions in a dignified way makes you nervous, you do have another choice.
You can avoid the topic of religion altogether and go for a more general mention of the winter holidays or even just the year’s end. For your communications and for any events you can stick to winter themed words and decorations without clear religious significance.
This is an easy way to make everyone feel comfortable. At times, a mention of several religious holidays or the presence of an assortment of decorations representing different religions can feel forced. Your group needs to decide what approach would work best for your specific situation.
Combining different approaches in your winter fundraising efforts
You don’t have to go for an all or nothing approach either and differentiate your approach by media type or event: You could go for a non-religious strategy in your mailings, but acknowledge other religious holidays as they come up on your Facebook page for example. Social media is the perfect tool to reach out to others of any demographic or religion.
Also, some religious symbols are slowly making their way into the mainstream: decorated trees and candy canes seem to become less and less a symbol of just Christmas, but more of a symbol for the winter holidays in general – as long as they’re not exclusively decorated in red and green.
The importance of inclusion
Religion is paramount in the lives of many. For some, so is their lack of an association with organized religion. While sharing your faith during the holiday season may seem innocent, some may not take it as such.
Your fundraising efforts are an attempt to bring people together to support a common cause. Fundraising during winter holidays can be tricky if you do not take everyone’s feelings and beliefs into account. This is a time of giving for everyone and your job is to give everyone a chance to support your cause by making each and every person feel that they, and their beliefs, are welcome to be a part of your fundraiser.