The Complete Holiday Fundraising Guide

Tips and Tricks to Ensure Fundraising Success

Fundraising can be a daunting task. The planning, executing, and collecting of funds can seem like an overwhelming process. The good news is that when done properly, a good fundraiser can bring in money, donations, and create projects that you never thought possible.  

The best news is in this complete guide we will break down fundraising from start to finish to ease the process and set you up for success no matter what your goals are. 

We will start by breaking down the reasons it is best to fundraise during certain times, like winter fundraising and holiday fundraising. Then, we will take you through the process of planning a successful fundraiser. Lastly, we will give you some ideas to separate your holiday fundraiser from any other.

Complete Holiday Fundraising Guide

Why Do Holiday Fundraising This Winter Season

Everyone knows that Christmas and winter holidays have been coined as the time for giving and research backs this up as well. According to a study by NeonCRM, 31% of all giving is done in December. When you consider December only makes up 8.4% of the time in a year, that is a drastic increase in giving.
Even more shocking, the last three days of the year make up 12% of all donations and gifts received, according to the same study; remember that donations, giving to fundraisers, and gifts are all tax-deductible. People at the end of the year who are looking at tax often make the decision to donate to someone they know and recuperate the money during tax season rather than just losing it to taxes.
It is important to know this and to take advantage of it during your fundraising. During winter and the holidays, people are in a giving mood. It doesn’t matter if it is the holiday spirit or tax incentivized, setting up and running a proper fundraiser during this time will maximize how well your fundraiser does. Now it’s time to set up the fundraiser for success. 

Steps to Maximize Your Fundraising’s Success

1.) Define Your Holiday Fundraising Message & Cause

Your message, often times called your cause, needs to be precise and deliver a message that makes people want to help you. Having a message that resonates will not only help out your fundraising cause but will help you create the optimal strategy when you fundraise.

Here is an example:

Message A – We are running a toy drive at school X on December 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th and all toys will be donated to Children 4 Toys.

Message B – There are many kids this holiday year that will not receive any presents or gifts. Bring the holiday joy and spirit to those kids by donating toys you no longer use. We will be accepting toys on December 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th to bring holiday cheer to those who need it most this season.

In message A, all that was defined was when toys were being accepted. While it’s important to define to your audience how to help, nothing else was conveyed.. In message B however, the cause is defined, a reason to donate was given, and how to donate was told. This message is far more impactful and will lead to higher success in fundraising.  

2.) Plan Your Winter Fundraiser Before You Start

After you have your cause or message, it’s time to start planning. When you are planning, some key decisions will need to be made:
  • Define your target audience
  • Create a realistic goal
  • Define any spending budget
  • Determine how people will be able to help
  • If you are handling money, what will be your payment processing
  • If you are hosting events, picking the venue
  • When the fundraiser will start and finish
Knowing who you will be focusing your efforts on, i.e. your target audience, is critical. For the most part, a one-size-fits-all message doesn’t exist: defining a target audience will allow you to tailor your message. The basics is to figure out who will donate or give often or in large amounts.
An example would be if you are running a fundraiser to improve drunk driving awareness among teens, target audiences could include parents age 30-45, teens ages 16-19, and high school teachers. Each one of these groups would have a different message you would want to deliver and target in different ways.
coin collecting

3.) Create a Realistic Budget

Next up is creating a realistic goal and budget for your holiday fundraiser. A lot of fundraisers fall short because of budgetary reasons. As a matter of fact, as many as 43% of organized fundraisers fail because of misuse of the budget, according to a recent study. According to the study, the biggest misuse of funds came from overestimating incoming dollars and donations.

When you are creating your budget, it is very important to use dollars you actually have and not to base it off of future donations or fundraising. If you do want to create a budget based on future dollars, then set goals and only use the money if certain milestones are met.

An example would be if we hit X dollars then we are going to host a dinner but if we hit Y dollars then we are going to host a gala; only start planning the events when you hit the right dollar amounts. The most common mistake is to host an event or spend money you don’t have, thinking the dollars spent will bring in a return on the investment. If your event doesn’t get you what you thought, that is when your fundraiser fails.

This is true even for smaller fundraisers or events. If you are raffling off items, offering rewards, or doing giveaways, make sure minimum thresholds are met and that those thresholds will cover the costs of your giveaways.  

Holiday Fundraiser Ideas

Now that you have a defined message, a black and white budget, and realistic goals, it’s time to determine what type of fundraiser you want to do and we will give you school holiday shop ideas or holiday fundraising ideas that will blow people’s minds.

Holiday Gala

This is one of the go-to event fundraisers for a reason. Holiday Galas can achieve so much for a community and have everyone leaving feeling good. When you are doing a holiday gala you normally have food and blind auctions for your guests, along with some entertainment.
What you can do is set a holiday theme and then go around your community and ask businesses in the area if they want to donate something to the silent auction. It is a form of advertising for them and at the gala, they get to network. You, on the other hand, get to keep the proceeds from the silent auction for your cause.  

School Concerts

If you are fundraising for a school, then concerts can be an amazing way to reach your goals. Meet with the music departments and do one concert a week highlighting the band, orchestra, choir, and school talent. You can charge a small amount at the door and do a raffle at the concert for extra money.

kidz kastle

Decoration Workshops

Decoration workshops are a great way to provide relief to parents while helping your cause along the way. For a small fee, offer ornament or gift wrapping workshops for children.
Parents can drop off their kids and you can teach them how to create ornaments to hang on the tree or, if parents drop off presents with the children, they can learn how to wrap gifts. As a parent, nothing is nicer than to take a break from the kids for 15-20 minutes and also get all the present wrapping done in one trip. 

Santa’s Workshop

An oldie, but a goodie. Creating Santa’s workshop for children to come let Santa know what they want for Christmas is a great fundraiser. Getting in line and telling Santa their Christmas desires is free but be sure to take photos and charge a small amount for the photos. Parents will love being able to put the picture up on the fridge and the money earned will help your cause.

Bonus Tip: Hot Chocolate, popcorn, and other refreshments while waiting in line is a great way to earn a little extra during your workshop. 

school christmas store

Holiday Fun Run or Walk

These are always fun and you can add fun prizes to make it even better. Fun runs and walks are perfect for charity causes but can work for any type of fundraising. Charge a fee to enter, walk, or run, and encourage people to dress up in a holiday outfit. Give out prizes for different categories. You can also ask around your community to see if anyone would want to sponsor the event.

If you are doing a school fun run and walk, have your students go out and get pledges. A great way to raise money is to ask for donations per step and hold a timed walk. Then your students can go back and tell friends and loved ones how many steps were walked or ran during the event and collect donations along the way.  

Coin Collecting

This is often overlooked but a coin drive can bring in large amounts of money for your cause. Run contests among workers, students, or whomever you are getting to participate.
Everyone is to bring in coins and ask around for coin donations and the group with the heaviest Santa Sack full of coins wins. Competitions bring out the best in people and are a fun way to liven up your office or school.  

Lastly, the Plain-and-Simple Year-End Ask

If you have the right message, simply asking for holiday, winter, or year-end donations can do the trick. Remember, we talked about this being the season of giving and a good time to donate for tax deductions. Simply asking for people to help out your cause during the end of year can be surprisingly effective.


We hope these tips and tricks put you on the right track for your holiday fundraiser. If you are reading this and it is not the holidays, you can still put a lot of these tips to good use. Remember to craft a message that will resonate with people, properly plan, and liven up your fundraising and you will get the results you’re looking for. 
If there is something you think that we might have missed or have questions or comments, do not be shy to leave it in the comment section below and we will get back with you as soon as we can!