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Ideas for Empowering Your Volunteers to Make the Most of Holiday Fundraising

Ideas for Empowering Your Volunteers to Make the Most of Holiday Fundraising

Posted on Dec 11, 2019

As a nonprofit fundraiser, you know that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year is one of the most important times to fundraise. After all, 30 percent of all donations are made in the month of December. And you’re likely feeling the pressure to meet your yearly fundraising goal… or raise a good chunk of your operating budget for the coming year.

That said there are two big challenges you likely face with your holiday fundraising:

Challenge #1: You and your fundraising team (whether they are staff or board) are worn out and/or focused on family holiday activities.

Challenge #2: Every nonprofit is asking for money this time of year. How do you cut through the fundraising noise?

A solution to both challenges is to deploy your volunteers to fundraise for you! Here’s why:

Reason #1: Even with their own holiday preparations, your volunteers are motivated, and their networks of friends and colleagues are primed to give. This is a time of year when people feel a sense of generosity and want to make a difference. Many also crave an opportunity to be connected to something positive—especially if holiday stress is intense.

To this point, charitable-minded people give an average of four nonprofits during the holiday season.

Reason #2: Social fundraising—meaning DIY, peer-to-peer online fundraising—is powerfully motivating. When your volunteers promote your nonprofit, they are transferring their trust of your social impact to their friends and colleagues.

This form of “social proof” is a psychological phenomenon. Your volunteers are tuning their friends and colleague’s brains into your cause. What a strategic way to cut through the fundraising noise.

Reason #3: For your volunteers moving up the career ladder, fundraising is an underutilized way to build a professional network. For professionals at any stage of their career, fundraising for a cause demonstrates passion, initiative, creativity, teamwork, and social responsibility, as well as skill in communication and project management. What’s more, fundraising provides a unique avenue to begin a relationship with a potential coach or mentor.

In other words, you can build a mutually beneficial partnership with your volunteers around fundraising.

Reason #4: With the advent of online fundraising platforms—like iConnectX—it’s easier than ever to empower your volunteers. They in turn help you connect into communities your nonprofit might not otherwise be able to access. iConnectX, for example, links you to a community of giving-minded professionals.

But who will be your best fundraising volunteers? Keep in mind the following kinds of people working for your cause:
  1. Entrepreneurs: They are likely proactive and have cultivated a broad professional network with the potential give generously. If they are starting a business, entrepreneurs are also motivated to expand their networks. And they tend to have more flexible schedules to coordinate with you around fundraising.
  2. Social Media Masters: This may seem a bit obvious, but there are people who use social media and then there are people who have built social media into their lives as primary source of connection and joy.
    These volunteers are likely to find an online fundraising a creative and fun challenge. They’re also likely to make time for fundraising, even with busy schedules.
  3. Artists (professional and hobbyists): Artists in your volunteer community are incredibly valuable advocates for your nonprofit. They can promote you through their work.

    They can create beautiful fundraising assets for you — videos, graphics, poems, stories. With a little guidance, your volunteer artists are likely to come up with idea that you just don’t have the time or energy to formulate.

  4. Generation Y professionals: Volunteers in their 20s and 30s are likely to be career minded, and you can show them how fundraising is a powerful way for them to build networks across different industries. Generation Y is also particularly savvy with social media.

Once you’ve identified your volunteer team of fundraisers, here are some ways to deploy them that don’t require a lot of lead time or a heavy lift from you.

Create a matching gift campaign. You may be cultivating a pool of major donors for a matching gift effort as part of your holiday fundraising. You know how effective matching gifts are. Individuals are highly motivated knowing that their gift is matched, and they are likely to give 22 percent more on average.

You can also ask your volunteers to organize mini matching gift campaigns. They can recruit their friends and colleagues to give to a matching gift pool. Or volunteers can use their own donation to your nonprofit to start a online matching fundraiser. They just need an email template, an online fundraising platform (like iConnectX) and a call script.

Take advantage of corporate philanthropy. As you know, social responsibility has emerged as a key component of corporate brand awareness, especially for Generation Y. So ask your professional volunteers to investigate their employer’s giving programs. Corporate giving initiatives come in many forms, including:

  • Employee matching gift programs, where an employee’s gift to a registered nonprofit is matched by the company.
  • Giving days, where corporations set up mini giving conventions that enable employees to solicit gifts for their favorite nonprofits.
  • Volunteer “vacations,” where employees are allowed a number of hours per year to work with a nonprofit.

Empower your professional volunteers to ask the right questions and provide you with information on their company’s giving, especially the timing for receiving a corporate matching gift. This information in of itself is priceless. There’s no better way to understand a corporation’s giving practices than from an “inside man.”

For your volunteers who work at companies with no formal giving program, ask them to set up a giving day.

It doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking. Your volunteers can recruit a few work colleagues and set up a “booth” at an existing event, such as the company holiday party. They simply need a few talking points, a computer, and a donation page link. As colleagues meet and mingle, they can stop by the computer to donate.

Host a virtual event. There’s no need for you or your volunteers to rent out space, negotiate with a caterer to donate food, or find a date that doesn’t conflict with holiday parties. Your volunteers can host virtual events online.

For example, they can host virtual holiday feasts in honor of the people you serve. Through iConnectX, your volunteers can offer tickets for seats at a virtual dinner table.

Then encourage volunteers to be creative in sharing the details of the event. For example, your volunteers can send scripts of imaginary toasts or they can send pictures of people celebrating at the “event.”

Organize intimate events. Many nonprofits use the holidays to host a significant fundraising party or tour. Yet you know what a massive undertaking such events are.

What about asking ten volunteers to host ten small events? They can host dinner parties, pull together a bowling or indoor mini-golf group, or recruit a laser tag team. Then do the math: if ten volunteers bring together ten people each, that’s 100 donors supporting your cause!

Arrange for an online holiday auction. You often see silent auctions at in-person fundraisers. But you don’t need an event to run an auction. You can host one online. You and your volunteers can auction off all kinds of items that may not require a lot of time and energy to negotiate for or obtain. For example, your volunteers can auction off:

  • Time with a life skills coach
  • One-of-a-kind crafts made by themselves or your clients
  • A round of golf at a private or public course
  • Tennis lessons
  • Homemade baked goods
  • A few rounds of signature cocktails at a popular bar
  • A holiday gift wrapping service

Most local businesses and your volunteers are happy to donate something to a charity auction, especially during the holidays. What’s more, your volunteers can help connect you with local businesses for future fundraising efforts.

Promote a holiday dare. You’ve heard of the ice bucket challenge. Like the ALS Association, your volunteers can have a lot of fun thinking about holiday dares to complete when a fundraising goal is met.

Your adventurous volunteers could dare to:

  • Record themselves singing a song or reciting a silly poem and post it on your Facebook page.
  • Post a series of pictures of themselves dressed in the ugliest outfits they can find.
  • Video themselves wearing a sandwich board promoting your cause in front of their office.

Fundraising should be fun, especially during the holidays.

Know that you can use iConnectX to help deploy your volunteers. Our platform is set up for any kind of online ticketing, peer-to-peer fundraising, and online auctions. We also offer iBridge, a unique way to fundraise. Professionals can give or buy coaching time from one another—with funds going to chosen nonprofits.

This next stretch of weeks is so important to your nonprofit. Make the most of it with your volunteers and iConnectX.

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