Fundraising on little-known holidays — another way not to raise money

Today is World Food Day. There’s a good chance you’ve heard from some charity on the topic of hunger on or around today.

That’s because if you’re in the business of fighting hunger, you think World Food Day is one BFD.

For most people, World Food Day is not a Big Deal. Or a Small Deal. It’s No Deal at all. And by “most people,” I mean everyone. Except you (if you’re in the anti-poverty biz) and a few of your colleagues.

That’s why World Food Day is a lousy fundraising platform. It has little meaning and no emotional resonance.

Fundraising about hunger that has a clear call to action and a great story that happens to land on World Food Day would be a far better bet than something relies on the donor knowing and caring about World Food Day.

Basing your hunger fundraising on the fact that it’s World Food Day is like going up to someone and saying “Today is Noah Webster’s birthday. Where’s my present?” (In fact, today is Noah Webster’s birthday; please feel free to send me a dictionary.)

Today is also Ether Day, National Feral Cat Day, the feast day for St. Longinus, and Bulgarian Air Force Day. Each of those is very important to somebody, but not at all interesting to everyone else.

The only holidays that dependably boost fundraising (and I’m talk US fundraising now) are:


  • Christmas (or, more generically, “The Holidays”)
  • Thanksgiving (which is sometimes subsumed into The Holidays)
  • Year End (part of The Holidays, but also because of the tax deadline)
  • Easter (very much less so and only for Christian organizations)

There are exceptions. One I’ve experienced is the Marine Corps Birthday on November 10 (read about it — it’s a kick!). I’ve seen Breast Cancer Month (October) work for some but dramatically not for others.

If you’ve had success tying fundraising to lesser-known holidays, let us know in the comments.

But the general rule to follow: Don’t build fundraising around holidays that your donors don’t know about. It doesn’t work.


Comments

10 responses to “Fundraising on little-known holidays — another way not to raise money”

  1. Valentine’s Day was a big winner for Children’s National Medical Center — primarily from a listbuilding standpoint, but fundraising-wise, not too shabby for a secondary ask!
    Check out this case study on the campaign: http://www.sofii.org/node/989

  2. Valentine’s Day was a big winner for Children’s National Medical Center — primarily from a listbuilding standpoint, but fundraising-wise, not too shabby for a secondary ask!
    Check out this case study on the campaign: http://www.sofii.org/node/989

  3. National Doctors’ Day on March 30 works very well for most nonprofit hospitals.Patients and donors write appreciation notes and make gifts in honor of their favorite physician.
    Secondly,special anniversary dates work-10th, 25th,etc. A local children’s orginization Exec Dir is retiring after 30 years of service. Prospects are being asked for $30 “in honor of Tom”. A $200 donor will be asked for $230.00 etc.

  4. National Doctors’ Day on March 30 works very well for most nonprofit hospitals.Patients and donors write appreciation notes and make gifts in honor of their favorite physician.
    Secondly,special anniversary dates work-10th, 25th,etc. A local children’s orginization Exec Dir is retiring after 30 years of service. Prospects are being asked for $30 “in honor of Tom”. A $200 donor will be asked for $230.00 etc.

  5. Alice Benson Avatar
    Alice Benson

    I’ve raised money around Mother’s Day for organizations that work with homeless women and children.

  6. Alice Benson Avatar
    Alice Benson

    I’ve raised money around Mother’s Day for organizations that work with homeless women and children.

  7. In keeping with the World Food Day theme of the post, I’d like to mention that my synagogue receives an enormous amount of nonperishable food donations on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when Jews fast for the day. The donated items are then delivered to a local food pantry for distribution to those in need.

  8. In keeping with the World Food Day theme of the post, I’d like to mention that my synagogue receives an enormous amount of nonperishable food donations on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement when Jews fast for the day. The donated items are then delivered to a local food pantry for distribution to those in need.

  9. Breast Cancer month(October) always works. For some reason they managed to make it popular. Every year in October you see all over the city Pink shirts, mugs, everything! This year I got myself a t shirt at http://www.causeurgood.com they donate $8 for each shirt sold. I think that s much considering that bigger companies sometimes give very little.

  10. Breast Cancer month(October) always works. For some reason they managed to make it popular. Every year in October you see all over the city Pink shirts, mugs, everything! This year I got myself a t shirt at http://www.causeurgood.com they donate $8 for each shirt sold. I think that s much considering that bigger companies sometimes give very little.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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