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Master Calendar 2000 - May
Holiday and Seasonal Fundraising Ideas

by Deane Brengle


Each month we take a look at what fundraising opportunities the holidays and other seasonal events present for the future month.

If your group has a fundraising activity that is centered on a holiday or season please tell us about it at brengled@fundsraiser.com


May 5th - Cinco De Mayo
May 6th - Kentucky Derby
May 14th - Mothers Day
May 29th - Memorial Day


Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico that celebrates the May 5, 1862 anniversary of Mexican Gen. Ignacio Zaragosa defeating French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte.

Cinco de Mayo is now often used to celebrate Mexican cultural heritage in other parts of the world.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to Cinco de Mayo there are a lot of benefits:

  • Cinco de Mayo isn't trademarked so you can use the name without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.
  • Cinco de Mayo is a light hearted affair that lends itself to good time fundraising events.

Types of events suitable for Cinco de Mayo

  • Food Event

    Food events are popular fundraisers. Celebrate this holiday with a breakfast, lunch or dinner fundraiser. A Mexican food tasting or salsa taste off would be a good tie in.

  • Festivals

    Often festivals are held to gather people to celebrate. These can be large sprawling events or small intimate affairs.

    Festivals often are made up of many components. Here are some examples:

    1. Entertainment
    2. Carnival
    3. Food booths
    4. Arts & crafts
    5. Games

  • Concert

    A concert can be a good fundraiser for Cinco de Mayo. Start small with local talent and grow it in future years.

  • Run/Walk Events and Golf Tournaments

    If your community's calendar is crowded at other times of the year with these events, this can be an opportunity for your group to secure an open spot on the calendar. I would be willing to bet not many communities use this holiday for these events yet.


Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby stands as the oldest, consecutively held Thoroughbred race in America. It is one of three events of Thoroughbred racing's coveted Triple Crown. It is always held the first Saturday in May.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to the Kentucky Derby there are a lot of benefits:

  • The Kentucky Derby can be used without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.
  • The Kentucky Derby is a light hearted affair that lends itself to good time fundraising events.

Types of events suitable for Kentucky Derby

  • Kentucky Derby Party

    Of course you will want to hold your event on Derby Day and make the highlight of your event the race itself. Make sure you know what time the race runs!

    Derby Day parties can include lots of fun activities like:

    • Music
    • Games
    • Food
    • Cocktails (Mint Juleps are traditional)
    • Auctions (both live and silent)
    • Raffles

Kentucky Derby Resources


Mothers Day

While many countries of the world celebrate their own Mother's Day at different times throughout the year, there are some countries such as Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium and the U.S.A. which also celebrate Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May.

Mothers Day is a good time to have a fundraiser and tug at the heart strings of the child in all of us.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to Mothers Day there are a lot of benefits:

  • Mothers Day isn't trademarked so you can use the name without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.

Types of events suitable for Mothers Day

  • Flower Sales

    Mothers Day is a natural for flower sales. Spring is bustin out all over the country and what mother can say no to flowers.

    Most sell live plants and pre sell to avoid unsold product which can dramatically reduce your profits. Some sell from a catalog and offer annuals, perennials, hanging baskets, herbs and nursery stock too. Window boxes and container gardens are also good options.

  • Theme Baskets

    Theme baskets are a good choice for those that can spend more money. Have your group make a variety of them to save money. Solicit donations of the contents (and baskets) to really boost your profits.

  • Mothers Day Luncheon

    Team up with a restaurant and hold a Mothers Day Luncheon. A pre set part of the price of every lunch sold will be your fundraiser profit. A good way to sponsor an event without all the time consuming work normally associated with throwing an event.


Memorial Day

General John Logan proclaimed May 5th as Decoration Day in 1868. The general wanted to remember all those who died protecting our nation. He ordered that flowers should be placed on the graves of all soldiers, both Union and Confederate alike. Since World War I, Memorial Day (as it is now called), is celebrated on the last Monday in May throughout the United States.

For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to Memorial Day there are benefits:

  • Memorial Day isn't trademarked so you can use the name without danger of being sued or paying a royalty.
  • It has national recognition by all groups of people
  • The press (newspaper, radio and television) covers the event in some form every year.

Types of events suitable for Memorial Day

  • Parade

    The traditional Memorial Day parade is a great way to celebrate the holiday. It may not be much of a money maker, but the PR it will generate can be priceless.

  • Breakfast

    A fundraising breakfast event is a great compliment to other events for the day, either your group's or others. An all you can eat breakfast will attract the greatest number of people including families.

  • Garage Sale

    Take advantage of the spring cleaning craze and solicit articles for a huge garage sale. Sell articles full price the first day and half price the second day so you don't end up with articles left over.

  • Run/Walk Events and Golf Tournaments

    If your community's calendar is crowded at other times of the year with these events, this can be an opportunity for your group to secure an open spot on the calendar.

    Don't limit yourself to just these events, tennis and softball tournaments also work great.



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About the Author:

Deane Brengle writes for several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups. You can visit these publications and read more about fundraising in articles by him and other experts in the field at The Fund$Raiser Cyberzine, The Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter, and Fundraising Booklets.



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