Holidays are some of the most important considerations you can keep in mind when building your promotional calendar. We’ve covered in past blog posts here and here 15 key holidays that marketers should celebrate—but what about nonprofit marketers? After all, it doesn’t make much sense to promote a nonprofit on Black Friday or the Summer Solstice.
Holidays are just as important for nonprofits as they are for businesses, but nonprofits will likely celebrate different holidays than their for-profit counterparts.
In this blog post, we’ll cover the 6 most important holidays nonprofit marketers can use to promote their organization. These holidays will help you raise money, gain awareness, and show love and gratitude to donors.
1. Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is Black Friday for nonprofits. This holiday originated in 2012 and has steadily grown in popularity, to the point that Giving Tuesday is now one of the most critical holidays for nonprofits.
The weekend after Thanksgiving is synonymous with shopping and a rush of sales in anticipation for Christmas. Black Friday is followed by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, all of which encourage people to make purchases before Christmas.
After 4 consecutive days of discounts and deals, we ask people to do something different with their money: we ask them to give.
Most people go into Giving Tuesday expecting to donate. All you have to do is ask.
Planning a Giving Tuesday campaign could merit its own blog post, but here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Set a goal. If you have access to a fundraising platform that can show the donations you’ve received, even better.
- Build excitement about your campaign a week or more before Giving Tuesday. You can even give high-level donors early access to the campaign to give it some momentum before the big day.
- Consider partnering with a high-level donor for a matching gift or giveaway raffle.
- On Wednesday, be sure to thank all your donors for their contributions. Show them how much money you raised for your cause, and tell them what that money will accomplish.
- In the following weeks and months, show the results of those donations in action.
You can find tons of resources online that help organizations like yours on Giving Tuesday. With some careful planning and effective marketing techniques, Giving Tuesday can be one of your nonprofit’s most successful days of the year.
Giving Tuesday occurs on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The next Giving Tuesday is November 29, 2022.
2. New Year’s Eve.
Did you know most nonprofits see a major spike in donations just before the end of the year? In fact, Nonprofit Tech for Good found that 12% of all donations happen in the last 3 days of the year! December 31 is one of the most popular days to give, and it’s all because of taxes.
December 31 is the last chance your donors have to make tax-deductible donations for that year. The coming new year adds a sense of urgency to the donation. New Year’s Eve countdowns are everywhere, reminding your audience how little time they have left to make a final gift.
In the last week of the year, send your audience a few simple emails encouraging them to give. Remind your donors of the tax benefits of giving before the new year, and tell them what their donation will accomplish. You may want to send multiple emails on December 31 as midnight approaches.
While the focus of your Giving Tuesday and other holiday campaigns is likely doing good, the heart of an end-of-year campaign is urgency. Keep the impending deadline at the forefront of your messaging from December 29–31.
New Year’s Eve always falls on December 31.
Christmas has the potential to be a huge boost for your nonprofit, especially if your audience is largely religious. Christmas is a time of giving, generosity, and goodwill. What better way for your audience to show that than by donating to your cause?
The period from Giving Tuesday through New Year’s Eve is great for nonprofits. Almost one third (31%) of all donations happen in December. Try these strategies to tap into the holiday magic and raise more money around Christmas:
- Give people the ability to donate in honor of a loved one as a Christmas gift. (Some organizations like WorldVision even create a whole holiday catalog of “gifts.”) Create cards your donors can give to their loved ones announcing the gift they made.
- Ask donors to give the people you serve a Christmas gift in the form of a donation (e.g., a donation that goes toward toys for underprivileged children in the community or a hot meal for the homeless).
- Make an Amazon wish list of items your organization needs. Instead of writing to Santa, write to your donors, asking them to help Christmas dreams come true for the people you serve.
In the weeks following Christmas, share stories, photos, or videos of donations getting put to good use.
Christmas always falls on December 25.
Before you ask your donors for Giving Tuesday, Christmas, or end-of-year gifts, there’s an important holiday you need to celebrate with them: Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, reflection, and generosity. Take the opportunity to show your donors how thankful you are for their support.
Your donors are the heroes of your nonprofit. Without their generosity and resources, you wouldn’t be able to do your good work.
Try these ideas for celebrating Thanksgiving at your nonprofit:
- Don’t ask anything of your donors. This is a day to say “thank you” and show your donors what their previous gifts have done.
- Gather quotes from the people whose lives your organization improved and share them in emails, print, and social media.
- Give high-level donors a personal phone call to share your thanks. (Try doing this on the Tuesday or Wednesday before, so you don’t interrupt anyone’s family dinner.)
Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November. The next Thanksgiving is November 24, 2022.
5. Local giving days.
In recent years, lots of cities and counties have organized giving days, annual holidays dedicated to promoting generosity in the community. Here at Sigl Creative, we celebrate GiveNOLA Day.
These holidays raise community awareness about your nonprofit, and they’re often a great opportunity to get partial matching donations from local businesses or foundations. Your local giving day is especially important if your nonprofit has a visible impact on people in your community. Tell donors how their gifts will directly improve their community, making it a safer and happier place for everyone.
You’ll want to promote your local giving day across multiple channels in the weeks leading up to it. Encourage your donors to give early if there is an early-access feature, and help your audience watch your progress in real time throughout the day.
To find your local giving day, Google your city, county, or region followed by “giving day.” It may have a name like “Give Big” or “Great Give.”
6. Activism holidays and heritage months.
Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and LGBTQ Pride Month are some of the most well-known heritage months. But there are days, weeks, and months dedicated to celebrating or raising awareness about almost every group, cause, or movement.
Change a Pet’s Life Day (January 24). Brain Injury Awareness Month (March). World Hunger Day (May 28). National Recycling Day (November 15).
Think about the people your nonprofit serves or the systemic injustice you seek to change. Chances are, there are a few awareness and activism days dedicated to those causes.
Not all activism days, heritage months, or awareness holidays will apply to your nonprofit. Focus on a handful of days that relate to your organization’s cause, and incorporate those days into your calendar.
A quick Google search will help you find some holidays relevant to your nonprofit. You can also refer to lists like National Today and Calendarr for ideas. Look at what other organizations did on those days in previous years and ask yourself how your nonprofit can contribute to the conversation.
Depending on the nature of your nonprofit, you may be able to incorporate other holidays into your calendar, too. For example, a religious organization may ask for a special donation at Easter; a pregnancy center will probably have a major campaign around Mother’s Day; and a service for veterans will likely have campaigns for Memorial, Independence, and Veteran’s Day.
These 6 are just a starting point, since they’re some of the most important holidays you need to work into your calendar.
Planning your promotional calendar can be tough for anyone, and nonprofit marketers have extra responsibilities that make that job even harder. If the thought of planning your nonprofit’s marketing materials months in advance is daunting, you don’t have to do it alone. Schedule a call today, and let Sigl Creative help. We’d love to put our marketing expertise to good use and help your organization change the world for the better.