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How Nonprofits Can Stand Out and Receive Donations During the Holidays

December 2, 2019 4 min read

This article was originally published in the Philanthropy Journal 

Written by David Seibert, Vice President of Missions & Ministries at The Lukens Company

Giving tends to increase during the holiday season – that’s the good news for nonprofits. The not-so-good news is that for the months of October through December, advertising and marketing exponentially increases, flooding everyone’s mobile devices, televisions, local billboards, and mailboxes with endless noise that can very easily tempt them to tune out the barrage of messaging.

It’s an unfortunate cycle that can negatively affect charities and nonprofits that don’t have the bandwidth to compete with companies and corporations. But the reality remains that people get annoyed with endless advertising, even from the companies they love. What consumers always appreciate, however, are meaningful messages from causes they believe in that are timely, genuine, and significant. By incorporating the following three must-dos, your nonprofit can continue to stand out during the holiday and year-end fundraising season and receive the financial support you need.

1. Communicate Your “Why”

Those of us who work at nonprofits know the “why” behind what we do. For many of us, the mission we work daily to support is our reason for getting out of bed in the morning. Because this purpose is internalized, we can often forget to communicate our organization’s mission to others, subconsciously expecting onlookers to care about it as much as we do. But people can’t care about what they don’t know. Therefore, communicating the “why” behind your organization in every action and engagement ensures that your donors are knowledgeable, motivated, and invested.

We often feed into the myth that volunteers only donate their time because they are unable or unwilling to give financially. Sometimes, it’s true. But most of the time, it’s not, as volunteers are twice as likely to donate than non-volunteers.

Consider expressing your “why” regularly through newsletters, volunteer events, and donor asks. In doing so, your mission will stay front and center, helping onlookers catch your organization’s vision. Share statistics to prove the success of your organization’s work; tell stories that showcase how your mission has changed lives; and be specific in illustrating how different donations have resulted in actions that support your organization’s cause.

2. Overcome the Volunteer and Donor Schism

Think about the last five times your organization has reached out to supporters. How many of those were solely money requests? While running a nonprofit takes a large amount of capital, there are other ways that supporters can contribute to help you reach your goals, including time and talent. We often overlook this, feeding into the myth that volunteers only donate their time because they are unable or unwilling to give financially. Sometimes, it’s true. But most of the time, it is not, as volunteers are twice as likely to donate than non-volunteers.

A volunteer who gives their time is more invested in helping your organization to achieve success. It is vital to embrace a volunteer-donor hybrid mentality. Volunteers are donating their time and skills to your cause because they likely feel connected to your organization and mission. Given this personal investment, volunteers are more apt – and excited – to tell others about your organization and deliver when asked to donate. Therefore, make volunteer retention a key component of your fundraising strategy to get more engaged donors in the future.

3. Show Appreciation

Everyone enjoys appreciation, even if it’s for regular giving to an organization that they have long supported. Utilize your ongoing communications such as newsletters and social media to keep supporters informed about your organization’s news, including overall organizational updates, milestone check ins, future goals, ways to get involved, and shout outs to faithful donors. Some other tried and true ways to show appreciation include hand-written thank-you notes, surveys that seek feedback from supporters, and comment cards that ask donors “what inspired them to give their gift.” A donation is not a one-way transaction – it is an ongoing relationship that has to remain consistently appreciative for the organization to thrive.

By incorporating these tips not only during the holiday season, but also all year round, your organization’s cause can continue to stand out and remain at the forefront of people’s minds as they consider where they want to give their time, talents, and donations. Lean into the spirit of generosity that many people are feeling throughout this time of year and seek to cultivate an organization-donor relationship that can last into and after the new year.

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