Unusual Holiday Events for Nonprofits (It’s Not What You Think)

It’s a rather heartbreaking part of the holidays. December passes without a chance to enjoy it, no matter how much you look forward to the holidays. Time for rest and reflection is also out—you’re on the brink of a demanding new year.

While you may not need a week-long retreat to come up with innovative ideas for your nonprofit, carving out time for 2013 would help. Let December flit away quickly if it must. But come January: be prepared for a quick start.

Nonprofit events hosted on quirky holidays or unexpected times of the year are hot for a reason. You’ll catch your audience off-guard and reengage otherwise busy supporters. (December isn’t exactly a slow month, you know.) Plus, your event won’t compete with more common calendar commitments (like Christmas parties) or donors’ budget constraints (like Christmas presents).

So whether or not you’re hosting a holiday fundraiser as so many nonprofits do, commit to one more in 2013. Your nonprofit can host an event that delights supporters and draws in major donations.

Heart to Heart

Valentine’s Day is sort of a burden for most people. Like New Year’s Eve, the holiday carries with it the expectation (or even self-inflicted personal pressure) for fantastic plans. But going out to dinner becomes as everyday for your nonprofit supporters as it does for you.

Combine people’s holiday hopes for Valentine’s Day with your nonprofit’s fundraising needs. Host a formal event on or around Valentine’s Day this year. You don’t have to use the standard, couple-focused formula either. Emphasize the fundraiser as a chance to meet people to attract singles and couples alike. Your fundraiser could be so profitable that you could nix your December 2013 event. Not so into Valentine’s Day? Saint Patrick’s Day is brimming with goodwill and fundraising opportunities.

Quirky & Perfect

Maybe your nonprofit fundraising team wants to be a bit more adventurous in 2013. Show your personality, and develop your nonprofit brand, with an event that’s quirky but perfect (just like freckles and potbellied pigs). Schedule your fundraiser on an obscure observance if you can connect it to your cause. For example, a nonprofit that teaches adult learners to read may host a benefit on May 12—Limerick Day—or during April’s Reading is Fun Week.

Hot, Hot Holiday

If you’re on the opposite side of the spectrum—not adventurous per se, but ready for a change in your nonprofit calendar—rework what you already do. Reposition your nonprofit’s holiday event. Host a Christmas in July fundraiser. Your out-of-season take on the holidays will refresh donors who feel burnt out by December’s overdone year-end appeals.

Talk to us in the comments about your 2013 fundraiser ideas. What plans will your nonprofit make now to raise more money in future months?


Jill Havlat

December 7, 2012

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