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Holiday Fundraising (Part 2 of 2) -- Small and Mid-Size Donor Campaign Ideas . . .

Updated: Apr 25

The holiday season is fast approaching. The stock market has been strong. Giving is at all-time highs. And more than 30% of all donations are given between Thanksgiving and December 31st.

Now is the time to ask big! People are in good spirits. Their hearts are warm with gratitude, and they're inspired to help others and give back. Below is one of my favorite go-to holiday campaign tactics for small and mid-size donors (less than $2,500). Use it and you're sure to find your stocking bulging with cash.

Happy Holidays! 🎄


Holiday boxes fundraising ideas from Tom Iselin

Holiday Fundraising (Part 2 of 2) -- Small and Mid-Size Donor Campaign Ideas . . .


Create a Wishlist Campaign

If you want to raise a bunch of money in the next 60 days, create a campaign for your small and mid-size donors that allows them to buy (sponsor) "wishlist" items of things you need. Keeping the list short, specific, and light on copy is the secret to success.


1. Set a goal and a deadline. Have a specific financial goal and a specific deadline for the campaign. For example, you want all 20 wishlist items to be sold (sponsored) by January 1, for a total of $50,000.

2. Price levels. Since you're targeting donors who give $2,500 or less, price your wishlist items between $10 and $2,500.

3. Be specific. The more specific the better. "$500 buys a new printer (ours broke)." "$25 buys a week of healthy snacks for a child."

4. Get creative. Offer out-of-box wishlist items. "Keep our lights on! $1,200 pays our electric bill for the year." "$1,500 pays for our van's gas for the year." "$400 buys a set of color toner cartridges for our printer."

5. Number of items. Keep the number of wishlist items to 30 or less. If you have 5,000 small donors, 30 items may seem like too few. However, whether you have a small or large number of donors your targeting, you can address this issue by offering multiple purchases of an item. For example, if you have a wishlist item for $200 that pays for a week of meals for a client at your shelter, you could offer multiple numbers of these . . . 10, 20, 100, or whatever.

For example, "$200 pays for a week of meals for a client staying a our shelter. (Goal: 50 weeks worth of meals. Number of meals you'd like to sponsor? _____)."

6. Email the wishlist. Wishlist campaigns are well-suited for email. If you have the budget and a number of senior donors who give small donations, then you may want to send a letter version of the campaign. Or, send a combination of letters and emails, targeted to different donor segments. There are many options and combinations you can choose. In the end, email is effective because it's quick, inexpensive, and you can send out multiple reminders with little hassle.

7. Keep the copy SHORT and compelling. I cannot stress this enough. It's the holidays, donors are busy, and they're inundated with tons of solicitations from nonprofits and retailers. You have 2 seconds to capture a donor's attention. If your copy is long and "heavy," they will delete it. To win a donation, emails must be short, clear, and compelling.

Start by coming up with a fun name for your campaign. For example: "Santa's Wishlist Needs Your Help!" In your email, use 1 compelling photo, then introduce the campaign, the financial goal, and the deadline in 2 or 3 VERY short paragraphs -- and I mean SHORT (no more than 3 sentences each!). And for goodness sake, use a font size that's READABLE. Then provide the wishlist, followed by a link to a donation page that again outlines the wishlist items and provides payment methods. Key: When you write descriptions for your wishlist items, keep them to a short phrase or a very short sentence. Less is better.

8. Send the email. You'll want to send the first email of the campaign on Wed, November 17th.

9. Reminders. Send the second email on Wednesday, Dec 1. Then send an email each Wednesday until the end of the year. Change the subject line and photo every other week, but you do NOT have to change the copy. With each email, display a little graphic that shows and tells how close you are to achieving your goal. You can use a stocking or a candy cane showing progress (like a thermometer). Or, use a Christmas tree or any holiday icon.

Example: "We're halfway to our goal with 2 weeks to go! (display graphic) . . . Buy a wishlist item today and help our kids!" (display an emotional and compelling photo, along with a wishlist of what's still needed and in what quantities).

10. Annoying donors. Sending multiple reminder emails will only annoy donors if you design annoying emails. Donor's will not feel annoyed if you craft polite emails that BRIEFLY explain the campaign details and its benefits.

Holiday Fundraising (Part 2 of 2) -- Small and Mid-Size Donor Campaign Ideas . . .

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