The holiday season is a period when people tend to be more generous. In fact, in December alone, 33% of the total year's donations are collected[1]. Canadians will donate approximately $5 billion to charitable causes[2]. It’s also during this period that several hundred fundraising campaigns are launched. In short, you can' t have one without the other!

How to stand out during this period? How to do better and raise more funds? How to be more efficient year after year?

Here are some ideas and strategies to help you make your holiday fundraising campaigns a success.


1. Find a signature concept

The notion of signature concept is becoming more and more popular, as it boosts public notoriety and saves a lot of campaign planning time each year.

With a signature concept campaign, you invest most of the effort the first year while your concept is there to last. To implement a "signature" holiday campaign concept, you need to find an original and unique idea that will be associated with your organization year after year.

There are a few simple tips to help you find THE good idea:

  • Analyze your organization’s internal and external situation and set the goals you wish to achieve with the fundraising campaign
  • Define your organization's mission and list your values (if not already done)
  • Strike the right cord to capture your donor’s heart
  • Create a very visual and easy to understand concept (visual identity, pictures that arouse emotion, specific and graphic donation levels, etc.)
  • Have a powerful platform and tools, suitable for mobile phones and tablets, to facilitate donations




2. Plan your strategy well

As with many other foundation activities, planning your strategy is the most important step.

  • Surround yourself with a team (you can't do everything alone!)
  • Define the goals of the campaign (e.g. raise $30,000 in two months, offer food to 10,000 people, or even a more marketing goal: make the cause known throughout Canada)
  • Develop the campaign messages (communication axis) and prepare the promotional tools (banners, posters, press releases, promotional objects, etc.)
  • Create a schedule of campaign milestones: pre-launch, launch, progress, conclusion, post-campaign follow-ups, and most importantly, RESPECT IT!

ABOVE ALL, BE FARSIGHTED. A good strategy can be planned six months in advance! So when you get back from your summer vacation you should already start planning your holiday season campaign. Thanks to a well thought out concept, you will avoid a lot of stress and maximise your campaign results.




3. Creating emotion and choosing the right times

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, foundations and organizations are very active during the holiday season and several fundraising campaigns take place at the same time. So you need to find ways to stand out.

  • Create an emotional message that reminds people why their gift is important (use storytelling). Avoid only talking about yourself. Tell the donor how much his/her help makes a difference. In short, the donor must feel involved.
  • Produce visuals adapted to both your campaign and the time of year: make it all festive!
  • Sell a product whose profits will be donated to the cause: think of something that would make a beautiful Christmas gift or trade!
  • Set a clear beginning and end dates for your campaign. Deadlines will create a sense of urgency and help you adapt your messages over time.


  • Choose the right times to send your emails and publish on social networks, if necessary prepare an editorial calendar:

    Right times: Sunday morning, lunchtime, in the evening (around 8 p.m. when people have finished their tasks and are relaxing!), morning commute and evening commute during the week, the last week of December when this is the last chance to receive a tax receipt for a year-end donation, the beginning of January when people are still on vacation but less busy

    Bad/worse times: busy days (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve), between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on work days (people busy working and already receiving a lot of e-mails)


when to post on social media? 

All this obviously remains subjective and depends on your target customers and their daily activities.



4. Follow-ups and thanks

Frequent and relevant follow-ups are crucial to the success of your holiday fundraising campaign. Avoid bombarding your donors with e-mails and choose the options best suited to each of them.

The right combination of direct mail and newsletters

Although the web is taking up more and more place in our daily lives, traditional means are still for many causes an excellent way to reach the public. We recommend a good balance between the two, or, if your databases allow it, analyze how past donations were made and by whom. You will then know which is the most appropriate way to reach Mrs X the midlle-aged and Mr Y the millenial.

Segment your approach and donations

We are not addressing a major donor (e.g. a company) as we are addressing a recurring donor or a new donor. Indeed, to collect the maximum amount of donations, it’s necessary to personalize your approach. The same is true for the suggested donation levels: more reasonable for regular donors and higher for major donors.

Here you can request recurring donations for the coming year. Let your donors know that their donation is important now, but also throughout the year.


Some statistics

A series of emails (2 to 3 emails, depending on the length of your campaign) would be 4 times more likely to give a result (a donation) than a single email. Indeed, since the time to embrace the cause can be longer for some people, a good email planning during the campaign may be more effective. According to the same statistics, in this case, the average donation would be doubled, compared to sending a single email[3].

Thank and invite to share

A heartfelt thank you is essential. You must thank your donors immediately after their donation. Take the opportunity to encourage them to share the campaign with their loved ones. They will be proud to have made a donation and will wish to communicate it to their entourage by inviting them to do the same.

Thanks should also be repeated at the end of the campaign to keep donors informed of the achieved outcomes and the importance of their donations on the results. It's a way to build their loyalty so they can give again next year or in a subsequent campaign.

You are now well informed to build and deploy a holiday strategy that will stand out and have the most success. For any questions or assistance in building your campaign strategy or promotional tools, the Donna Interactive Suite team will be happy to advise you.




[1] CLASSY.ORG. The Guide to Holiday Fundraising,
[2] IMAGINE CANADA. Guide des dons de bienfaisance,

[3] CLASSY.ORG. The Guide to Holiday Fundraising,

CLASSY.ORG. Infographic : Take your Holiday Fundraising to a New Level,
CLASSY.ORG. The Guide to Holiday Fundraising,
GUIDESTAR. Top 10 Year-End Fundraising Tips,
IMAGINE CANADA. Guide des dons de bienfaisance,
NONPROFITPRO. Gear Up for a Holiday Fundraising Campaign with These Tips,
RAZOO FOUNDATION. 7 Holiday Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits,

Return to news