Sep 29, 2020

Ideas for virtual holiday fundraising

holiday fundraising

Ah, the holiday season is upon us. The month of December is not the only month where holidays are occurring, but when referring to the holiday season or holiday fundraising, that is often the month people think about. This makes sense, seeing as 30% of giving for an entire year is done in December. However, aGiveSmart, the holiday fundraising options are endless, and we want to share and inspire ideas for holidays throughout the year. 

We’re kicking things off with October, November, and December. Below are examples of fundraisers you can run virtually:  


Santa Run / Jingle Bell Run / Turkey Trot / Polar Plunge 

turkey trot

Fundraisers are turning to virtual 5k/runs/walks/rides already but a Turkey TrotSanta Run or Jingle Bell Run always had that extra festive vibe. To make sure you maximize the participation and include everyone, consider going virtual with your 5k/run/walk/ride this holiday season. You can still have everyone sign up online and then record their times through any of the fitness apps that are out there. You can also allow them to accrue mileage over a period of time during the holiday season or encourage them to run with a small group rather than alone. Costumes and dress-up might be essential, so encourage a social media share of the best get-ups.  


Voting is a great fundraising feature anytime a competition is involved. Voters can pay $0, $1, $5, or whatever amount your organization desires, to place their vote for their favorite: 

  • Halloween costume 
  • Ugly sweater 
  • Christmas tree 
  • Holiday bake-off 
  • Epic snowman 
  • Gingerbread house 
  • Holiday photo 
  • Light decorations 
  • Gingerbread house

Online Store  

Opening an online store is a great idea if you have merchandise to sell, whether that’s all year round, for an annual campaign (like this marvelous strawberry sale), or holiday-specific.

  • Holiday bake sale 
  • Holiday card sale 
  • Holiday wine sale
  • Holiday bazaar
  • Craft sale 
  • Holiday Wreaths 
  • Knit scarves, hats, mittens 
  • Candles  
  • “A visit from Santa” – Reserve your spot & Santa will come to say hello 
  • Christmas Caroling- Reserve your spot & have carolers come to your home  
  • Babysitting Services
  • Poinsettia sales

Festival of Lights 

Drive through a neighborhood. Sell tickets online and goodie bags to pick up or something clever. You can also sell decorating kits so people can show their support for your organization. 

Festival of Trees 

Hosting a Festival of Trees event could be that supporters vote (for a small donation) for their favorite tree to win the competition. Or, pre-decorated and to the nines, trees can be auctioned off for your cause. 

Sign-Up Parties 

Sign-up parties allow a set number of people to purchase a “spot” to a virtual event or small gathering. This could be a: 

  • Winter workshop – craft a wreath (easy to do from home over zoom!) 
  • Drive-In movie with a holiday film (Christmas or Halloween…costumes too!) 


Impact Based 

Giving Tuesday 

Take a different approach to make your mission stand out and compel your donors to give. Maybe you host a giving day on a different day that week. Or, run the campaign around a specific area of need so that your donors know their gift is for that cause rather than just another Giving Tuesday campaign. Simple things like adding the option for gifts to be recurring versus one time or incorporating peer-to-peer can help make a large difference on a competitive giving day.  

Angel Tree 

Angel trees are also known as “subs for Santa.” This is a great way to connect families in need of holiday gifts with donors. Donors can sponsor a family or physically fulfill their needs. Most often the families in need are advertised by a description of how many children they have and their ages. 

Angel Tree aka Sub for Santa- Connecting donors with families in need of Christmas/holiday gifts. Donors can sponsor a family or physically buy them gifts. Most times families are advertised by description (2 adults, 1 girl 4yrs old, 1 boy 8yrs old) 

Santa’s Wish List 

If your organization is in need of some specific items to stock your shelves or get your families ready for the new year, you can make a list of items that you need so that donors can come to your site and “purchase” these items for you. Their “purchase” will go right to your organization as a donation so that you can fulfill buying the items on your list. 

This is an easier way to “purchase” items, rather than relying on donors to buy the physical item. It’s easier for them when they can make an online purchase without having to make a delivery to your location. If you have donors who prefer to drop things off in-person, well of course, we wouldn’t say no to that either!  

Donor and volunteer appreciation 

A donor and volunteer appreciation event or campaign might not bring in the big bucks as a holiday fundraiser, but it’s important to show your appreciation for those who keep your mission moving forward.  

The end of the year is a nice time to recap all that’s been accomplished and celebrate one another’s hard work, especially this year.  


Donation Campaigns 

Board member campaign 

Most nonprofits have a recommended donation amount for board members that they must fulfill each year. At the end of the year, there is a push for anyone who has not donated yet, and that could be considered part of this board member campaign. You could also encourage board members to tie a final annual gift into their dues as well.  

Text-to-donate campaign 

Texting your donors is a great way to get in front of their eyes because texts have a 99% open rate. Sending out a text blast asking for donations is an easy lift on your team, a great opportunity to touch base with donors, and a way to collect any lingering dollars. 

Here are essential steps for a text-to-donate campaign. 


Peer-to-Peer Campaigns 


Encourage your donors to have their networks give to your cause as their holiday gift to a loved one. Running a peer-to-peer campaign is always a great way to have your donors do the fundraising for you to help close out the end of the year.  


Running a virtual holiday fundraiser? 
You won’t want to miss this webinar. 


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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County