Be the Star among the Tinsel: Tactics for Not-for-Profits this Holiday Season

Nov 08, 13 Be the Star among the Tinsel: Tactics for Not-for-Profits this Holiday Season

The season of giving is upon us, and that means an influx of donations for Not-for-profits. While the spirit of the season moves people to contribute (a survey by Ask Your Target Market showed that 57% of respondents said they donate to charity during the holiday season), some Not-for-Profits struggle with getting exposure during the holidays.

“Marketing not-for-profits may be tricky and challenging, but ultimately they’re rewarding,” said George L. San Jose, president and chief creative officer at The San Jose Group. “People, especially this time of year, want to know they’re giving back to make a difference.”

According to the 2012 Nonprofit Almanac, the United States houses an estimated 2.3 million not-for-profit organizations. While tactics such as not-so-gently reminding donors that the tax deduction deadline (December 31st) is nearing and drawing on the emotions of the season generate an influx of donations during the holidays, not-for-profits can use more creative avenues to break through the tinsel and be heard over the jingle bells.

Manners Matter

Organizations must prove their validity and can do this by showing donors where past donations have gone and how funds will be distributed. Also, thanking donors on social media or sending thank you emails can increase the odds of future donations.

Giving Charitable Gift Cards

Not-for-profits can offer and promote donation certificates and cards. With these cards, donors can gift a preloaded card that the recipient can spend on the cause(s) of their choosing—a gift that keeps on giving (at least by one degree). Some successful not-for-profits have already teamed up with charity donation cards like’s Charity Gift Card and Network for Good’s Good Card. Organizations should use email, newsletters, social media, mobile apps, etc. to alert the public about these and other charitable gift options.

Emotional Engagement

Emotional connections to causes and recipients generate donations. Including photos of beneficiaries in emails, posting testimonials to YouTube and focusing on subjects in PSAs can all add to donations. Organizations that give specific examples of what contributions go toward prove validity, gain trust and empower the donor. In turn, donors who feel they can make a difference tend to donate more.

Seamless Online Experience

Interested sponsors and donors should be able to easily navigate the not-for-profit’s website. Maintaining the not-for-profit’s website and mobile website as well as keeping social media sites up-to-date are essential. Complicated instructions or a lengthy donation form can result in contributions losses.

Social media sites are essential, especially for not-for-profits with limited budgets. Apart from gaining exposure through Facebook likes and Twitter followers, not-for-profits can use social media to inform, announce fundraisers and suggest volunteer opportunities, while gaining awareness and holding attention.


Last year, New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation launched #GivingTuesday, dedicating the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday to giving. According to, the #GivingTuesday Twitter hashtag collected 2.5 million social media impressions and trended after being used 185,000 times. The UN Foundation reported that more than 2,500 businesses and charities participated in the Twitter campaign. Other countries, including Singapore and Canada, are planning to join the December 3, 2013 #GivingTuesday celebration. Not-for-profits should have a heavy social media presence before and during #GivingTuesday.


YouTube is another important avenue. Not only does regularly posting quality content increase exposure, but organizations can include links to where visitors can donate or may utilize Google Wallet, which features a “Donate” button directly on the not-for-profit’s video pages.

Not-for-profits and donors can make the most out of the “most wonderful time of the year,” by making their causes heard this holiday season.

1 Comment

  1. It’s great to see our communities come together and give thanks not only for our family and friends but to the organizations that build our communities into the place we know and love. Giving to our community organizations only lets their missions extend further and faster! – Nevada PEP

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