If you haven’t started yet to plan for your end of the year holiday fundraiser, it’s high time! Fortunately, many of the traditional holiday fundraisers can be organized quickly and don’t take that much effort to organize.
If you’re thinking of skipping this fundraising opportunity, because of the economy, or you think you don’t have enough time, think again: About half of all charitable contributions are being made during the holiday season. Part of the reason for this is simply good tax planning. Donations can reduce taxable income and tax payers and companies are taking advantage of this by showing their generosity at the end of the tax year.
Even if you’re not part of an official 501(c)(3) non-profit for which donations can be tax-deductible, the holiday season puts people in a giving spirit that is unmatched the rest of the year!
To plan a fundraiser quickly is a test on how well organized you are. If you feel that you’re group could have been better prepared for some aspects as you’re preparing for this fundraiser, take note and make it your first project on your to-do list as soon as this fundraiser is completed.
Assess Your Resources and Options
Get together with your volunteer group and assess your resources and options:
- how many volunteers do you have available and what are their talents and connections?
- Can you partner with companies or other organizations you have partnered with before to organize a fundraiser that’s been done before?
- Or is there a new business or organization in town that you could partner up with and that would appreciate the extra exposure?
- Is there enough time to reserve space, a booth or table to sell fundraising items (f. ex. holiday decorations) or services (f. ex. gift wrapping)?
Plan your fundraiser depending on your current resources and time frame. If you have only a few volunteers available, you may think it’s not worth raising funds. But even a small fundraiser can yield several hundred dollars which will boost your bottom line. One of your volunteers may have a great connection with a business, an individual, or another organization that you can use to your advantage and may give you an edge, even if you don’t have a lot of volunteers or funds available.
The idea is to use your resources to their fullest potential, which you should always do of course, but this becomes even more important when you don’t have a lot of time and you have to put your fundraiser together quickly and efficiently.
Agree on a Fundraiser
Regardless of how much time you have to prepare, or which religious holiday you celebrate, decorative items for the home, wrapping paper for presents and items representative of winter make appropriate fundraising items that are easy to sell and just about anyone will find useful. Beyond these ‘traditional’ fundraisers and provided you have a substantial volunteer base, consider raising funds with odd jobs like raking leaves, shoveling snow or even having a mini winter carnival with food sales and snowman building. If you have a connection with a business, for example, you may be able to set up an in-house fundraiser that lets your volunteers sell holiday gifts to their employees throughout their offices.
Market Your Fundraiser
To support marketing your fundraiser, make sure you have all important information, including financial information, about your group readily available online and in print. Potential supporters of your cause want to know what happens to their donations, how much of their donation will actually support the cause and how much will be spent on administration and materials. Simply having this information available is important and can be the ultimate reason why people decide to give – or not.
Even if you’re just running a small gift wrapping fundraiser at the local book store, if you’ll be able to use 100% of the donations for your cause (because the wrapping paper was donated for example), then make up a sign and let people know!
And now is also the time to make use of your e-mail list or social media accounts. Especially if you’re planning your fundraiser short term, there may not be enough time to print and distribute a flyer, or you may have already missed the deadline for your last newsletter.
Once you have a time and place (if applicable) specified, spread the word! Even if you only run that small gift wrapping fundraiser, the more people know about it the better.
For more info on marketing your holiday fundraiser, read Fundraising Through The Holiday Season.
As mentioned before, quickly planning a holiday fundraiser, or any fundraiser for that matter, short term is really a test on how well organized and prepared you are: maybe your e-mail list wasn’t large enough to make an impact, or you didn’t have one, or your volunteers didn’t know how to answer questions on how the money will be spent and missed out on a donation because of it. If you’ve noticed some shortcomings like these, take care of them as soon as possible, so your next quick fundraiser can benefit from it!