How to raise funds with holidays and awareness days

July is National Wheelchair Beautification Month. It’s also Cord Blood Awareness Month.

I’m not telling you this because I think either of those issues is silly or frivolous. There are no doubt quality nonprofit organizations that need to raise funds for needed programs related to those two issues.

But if they use those awareness months as reasons for donors to give, they will almost surely fail.

That fact that it’s a “holiday” (or awareness day, week, or month), is rarely a reason people give.

This painful reality is noted by the M+R Labs blog at Raising lots of money on Father’s Day? Ugh, as if!

If you already have a strong case for giving and a Hallmark Holiday gives you some added urgency, great! However, if you have no other reason to send an appeal other than someone at your organization asked what you’re doing for Mother’s Day, you might want to keep reading.

That’s right, most holidays do not prompt donors to give. Even widely known and observed ones like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

You can’t simply say, “World Hunger Day is coming up, so you should give to something about hunger.” The awareness day is not a motivation for giving. It doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried!

Most holidays and pretty much all awareness days have no emotion connected to them.

The holidays that promote people to give are those that have deep emotional associations. In the US, that’s two — maybe three:


  1. Thanksgiving.
  2. Christmas.
  3. Easter (for some Christians).

There are other holidays that have that kind of resonance for specific groups. For people connected to the US Marines, the Marine Corps Birthday on November 10 is a huge deal, dripping with emotional resonance. If your donors are Marines, you can raise a lot of money connected to that holiday.

There are others like that.

But if you think just telling people it’s a holiday or awareness day and that’s why they should give, you are going to fail.

Fundraising is about connecting with people by the heart and giving them a way to take meaningful action. That’s true every day of the year.

Including National Lollipop Day, which is today.


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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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