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Master Calendar 2000:
December 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 a future month. We then cover one event in detail.

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


Winter Solstice - December 21st
Chanukkah - December 22nd
Christmas - December 25th
Kwanzaa - December 25th
New Years Eve - December 31st


Winter Solstice - December 21st

The Winter Solstice is the day the sun is at its southern most point and is low in the sky. The sun's rays hit the Northern Hemisphere at an oblique angle, creating the weak winter sunlight.

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

  • The Winter Solstice 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

Types of fundraising activities suitable for Winter Solstice

  • Winter Carnival

  • Winter Solstice Party

  • Winter Solstice Dance


Chanukah - December 22nd

Chanukah is probably one of the best known Jewish holidays. It is the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights, and is an eight day festival with many traditions important to the Jewish community.

Although there may be possibilities for Jews to incorporate fundraising into this day, most nonprofits will not find this a good holiday for fundraising.


Christmas - December 25th

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

  • Christmas 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

Types of fundraising activities suitable for Christmas

  • Selling Christmas trees and wreaths

  • Catalog sales

  • Selling Fruitcakes

  • Selling Christmas Cards and Gift Wrap

  • Secret Santa Workshops and Jingle Bell Shops

  • Christmas House Tours

  • Caroling

  • Letters, Photos and Visits from Santa

    Doug Nash of the web site, Grassroots Fundraising, shares some ideas about fundraising with Santa:

    Christmas is a time of good cheer and sharing, a good time for fundraising. People are in the mood to spread their good fortune and what better way to spread their good fortune than to help your worthwhile cause? Here are some ways to help people celebrate the Yuletide and assist your organisation in their fundraising efforts.

    • SANTA MEALS

      Meals, breakfasts, lunches and dinners, are used to raise funds for political campaigns, to launch books and simply raise money, so why not have a Santa Supper to help your fundraising requirements?

      These meals can be aimed at grown ups and kids alike. Apply a theme that is applicable to your area, membership and organisation.

    • SANTA PHOTOS

      For how many years have you seen professional photographic companies set up in local shopping centers to take photos of Santa with kids? A question to ask yourself is, can my organisation do this? The answer is 'YES". A little planning goes a long way.

      How can you compete with a professional outfit is the first question to answer. There are two immediate responses .... price and no waiting time.

      To be competitive you have to be creative. Most photographers have a week or so turnaround for you to get your prints, you then use a Polaroid camera and hand them out on the spot. The client is happy with the immediate result and the volunteer taking the photo can see the result and improve each shot until happy with the result. Be adventurous and instead of having a camera on a fixed mounting, try taking photos by hand.

      The second is that you work on a high turnover low profit principle. That is you depend on taking a lot of photos at a small profit per photo instead of a large profit on a smaller number of photos. Study what is happening in other locations and beat the competition. The advantage to have here is to have a sponsor in regards to the film and camera.

      Sponsorship is the key. There are several lines of sponsorship to try. First to be able to operate in a shopping centre for free. Approach a camera or photo developing shop to subsidize or even better supply for free the camera and film. The shop should be as close as possible to the area where the photos are taken. Approach a toy store in the shopping centre to provide props and toys to help create a jolly Christmassy atmosphere. Prominently display the names of the shops that help you in your endeavour.

      The large factor in your favour here is that this is the time of year that shops spend 'big' to be noticed and noticed in the best possible light. Helping your organisation out meets this criteria.

    • SANTA SIGNS

      Have ever noticed the explosion of Santa and Christmas signs leading up to December 25th. Wouldn't it be great if you could have a dollar for each sign? Well this isn't the place that will tell you that, however there is money in Christmas signs.

      During the year, so to spread out the capital investment, make signs with various Christmas themes. Make some saying 'MERRY CHRISTMAS', others with a picture of Santa: build up a wide variety of signs.

      At the beginning talk to shop owners to find out what kind of signs they would like. There are several advantages to this: Knowledge of the market, so you know who and what you are aiming at, creating a market by letting your prospects that you are about and creating the niche market of being able to make customized signs: signs that are specifically asked for. Also you have the chance to presell, lowering your initial capital outlay.

      When you see the first signs of the Christmas advertising push, canvass local businesses to purchase or rent your signs.

    • SANTA STREET APPEAL

      The idea here is to have a Santa volunteer on the back of a vehicle ringing a bell while driving slowly around neighborhoods. This to attract attention and help spark off a Christmas. Kids really love seeing a Santa cruising through their neighborhood, even more so if he is handing out lollies. Beside the car you have several volunteers walking with collection buckets.

      A simple concept that has proven to be a very successful fund-raiser.

    • SANTA : VISITS

      This activity depends on your membership having four or five members who are willing to donate their time to being a happy, jolly Father Christmas'. You may start out with just one Santa and slowly increase your numbers.

      All you need are the volunteers, the costumes and some advertising.

      In the pre-Christmas period let the public know that you are available to do children's parties, office parties, kindergartens or place a Santa in a shopping centre.

      For a modest donation, kids get to give Santa their wish list or tell him in person what they want to find under their tree. A good idea is to have a bag of lollies to hand to children.

      At office parties, the boss might want a Santa to hand out end-of-year bonuses or gifts and then mingle within the staff to add a bit extra of the season's wonderful atmosphere.

      Think carefully on whether to charge per person or on a simpler one-cost party basis. Another factor to consider is the circumstances of those wanting to make a booking. The person taking the booking must understand exactly what latitude they have when it comes to making variations in booking fees, times and any other unforeseen circumstance that may arise. Careful consideration is essential when choosing booking staff as well as who acts as Santa.

      Always have only one central phone number for bookings to save on confusion. Having one person, two at most handling the booking calendar also saves on possible double bookings. The calendar is filled out immediately a booking is taken. It is a good idea to try not to have a mobile number, as it might put some people off making a booking.


    Kwanzaa - December 25th

    Although there may be possibilities to incorporate fundraising into this day, most nonprofits will not find this a good holiday for fundraising.


    New Years Eve - December 31st

    For those of you choosing to hold an event tied to the New Years Eve there are a lot of benefits:

    • New Years Eve 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

    Types of fundraising activities suitable for New Years Eve

    • New Year's Eve Party

    • Baby-sitting for Party Goers


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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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