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10 Simple but Powerful Thanksgiving Fundraising Ideas

10 Simple but Powerful Thanksgiving Fundraising Ideas

Posted on November 29, 2021
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We are at the end of 2021! And year-end is the time when nonprofits need to perk up to attract donors! Innovative fundraising ideas are needed by nonprofits to make them stand out in the highly competitive market!

This period is not just for hosting fundraisers but also for the time to acknowledge donors and express gratitude to them.

One of the main highlights of the holiday season in the United States is giving back to the community. Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November and ushers in the holiday season in the United States.

And, what better time to thank donors than on Thanksgiving?

Here are some interesting trivia about Thanksgiving!

Did you know that Thanksgiving started in the year 1620? Here’s a brief history of Thanksgiving! In 1620 a small ship by the name Mayflower carrying 120 pilgrims set out from England looking for a place where these pilgrims could practice their faith in peace.

Mayflower found its destination in America, then called the New World. The first-ever Thanksgiving was celebrated when the Wampanoag native Americans and these colonists shared an autumn harvest feast. The harvest was the outcome of their joint efforts and so they celebrated together in Plymouth, which is known as Massachusetts today.

And, the tradition of expressing gratitude and celebrating has carried on for years. Food is the chief focus area of Thanksgiving with roast/fried Turkey being the special dish. There is a lot of fun and fervor during Thanksgiving and fun activities like parades, etc. are organized during Thanksgiving.

So, before we get into ideas to raise funds or attract donors, let us start the festive season traditionally by thanking them!

Thanking your donors makes them feel special. They feel connected and know that they are cared for. This helps build loyalty to your brand.

Although you must be sending them automated emails to thank them for their donations, you need to add a personal touch!

Here are some ways of thanking your donors on Thanksgiving:

  • The senior executives such as the directors, etc. in your nonprofit can make personal phone calls to donors to speak to them and thank them.
  • You can send them letters highlighting their contribution to the charity. For instance, you can explain the total funds raised for cause the donor might have contributed towards and how significant their donation was. And, send a personal thank you note for that.
  • Ever since digital media made a huge impact on our lives, sending physical letters and cards seems to have become a thing of the past. But a personalized, handwritten Thank you card or a letter has a more lasting impact on an individual. So, you can send personalized Thank you cards to your donors on Thanksgiving to acknowledge their contributions.
  • Thanksgiving is a good time to acknowledge the efforts of your volunteers as well. Some ideas for this are sending them discount coupons, gift vouchers, etc.
  • Another idea is to celebrate Thanksgiving with your donors, volunteers and all is by throwing a party! You could think of a virtual party over a Zoom meeting. Usually, nonprofits organize parties for fundraising purposes but hosting a party to thank the donors will make them feel really special.
  • You can also thank your donors on social media. Different social media channels have a large user base. So, acknowledging donors on social media platforms means giving them a shout-out in a public forum and this can be really exciting for them.

Close on the heels of Thanksgiving is Giving Tuesday which falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Giving Tuesday came into existence in 2012 when 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation came together and decided to specify a day to celebrate the generosity of Giving, a great American Tradition.

Giving Tuesday is celebrated each year to encourage individuals, families, corporates, institutions, schools, etc. to donate to the less privileged members of society. Giving Tuesday is celebrated with great gusto when donations are made not only in the form of funds but also in other ways. For instance, blood donation drives, donating food from homes to local pantries, and more.

It comes as no surprise then that it is this part of the year when maximum donations are received by nonprofits. Data reveals that 25% or more of the annual giving in the US takes place during the last 3 months of the year! (Source:

So, now that it is that time of the year when people are motivated to give, nonprofits can create fundraisers where donors can easily donate.

Here are 10 Simple but Powerful Thanksgiving Fundraising Ideas:

  1. Organize a Thanksgiving Themed Giveaway on Social Media

Create a buzz on social media and encourage donors to give with a giveaway. You can partner with a local business and offer a gift card or discount coupon for every donation made. This is a win-win situation for all parties. The nonprofit encourages donors and is likely to receive more donations. The donors receive something in exchange for the donations they make. And, the business sponsoring the gift voucher, etc. gets an opportunity to reach a wider audience and foster partnerships.

  1. Giving Tuesday

This is a day to celebrate the generosity of Americans. You will not want to miss out on this opportunity to raise funds for your nonprofit.

Make sure that your website loads quickly and offers a seamless user experience on both desktop and mobile devices.

Ensure that the website is easy to navigate and the donation buttons are easy to locate.

Offer an exclusive Giving Tuesday donation button on your website.

Facilitate online donations through simple and secure methods like text-to-give/donate, scan to give, etc.

Send regular emails just before Giving Tuesday to your subscribers to let them know what you are planning for the day and how they can participate.

Create urgency for donating. Specify a deadline within which donors need to contribute to a specific charity.

  1. Host a Thanksgiving Raffle

Thanksgiving is a time for fun and celebrations and off-course giving. You can hold online raffles and give exciting rewards to the winners such as an exotic holiday to a tropical island, etc.

  1. Organize Thanksgiving Marathon

Host a 5k or 10k marathon to raise funds during Thanksgiving. Integrate crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising into this. Ask the participants to collect donations for the event through their peer-to-peer fundraising pages. This will not only increase participation but also the funds generated.

  1. Host a Thanksgiving Themed Bake Sale

Depending on the circumstances and the number of donors, you can decide on a physical or a virtual thanksgiving themed bake sale.

Here’s how it works:

  • Make a list of Thanksgiving favorites like apple pie or pumpkin treats, etc.
  • Onboard bakers who can bake Thanksgiving treats. Get the bakers to commit to baking specific treats and the number of items they will prepare.
  • Create a dedicated page on your website that includes a list of items with relevant images, prices, and donation links.
  • Promote the page on social media and direct your audience to the above page. Once the donor chooses specific items from the list, send the order details to the baker.
  • The baker delivers the ordered items to the donor.
  1. Thanksgiving Gift Baskets

Thanksgiving is all about gifting and gift baskets are a popular choice for gifts. Create gift baskets with assorted items. Make different baskets in different price ranges to suit varying budgets. You can sell these baskets to donors.

  1. Thanksgiving Pumpkin Sale

Pumpkins are akin to Thanksgiving. So, host a thanksgiving pumpkin sale by buying pumpkins wholesale from the local market or other sources. Sell pumpkins at a higher price at a farmer’s market or set up your own Thanksgiving-themed marketing outlet.

  1. Offer Services

You can volunteer to give services in exchange for donations. For instance, yards get messy in the fall and it takes a lot of time and effort to get them cleaned. You can offer yard cleanup to your donors in exchange for donations.

  1. Thanksgiving Party

Everyone loves parties! Host a physical/virtual party for donors and volunteers. Charge an entry fee for the party and use the money for charity. Donors will be excited to attend the party and they will willingly pay the entry fee if they know it is for supporting a cause.

  1. Thanksgiving Gifting

Partner with different local businesses that offer products relevant to Thanksgiving. Create a catalog of these products. You can also offer services such as yard cleanup, etc. in the catalog. Make an attractive catalog and share it on social media and other online channels. You can raise funds when donors purchase these products/services.

These are some ideas for raising funds during Thanksgiving. You can don your thinking hats and think of some out-of-the-box ideas to make Thanksgiving special for your donors!