Winter Fundraising Ideas to Jumpstart End-of-Year Giving

’Tis the season for giving, and there’s no better time of year to ask for donations—in fact, Nonprofit Source reported that 30% of all annual charitable giving happens in December. Online giving is a popular way to donate, and crowdfunding fundraisers typically get a big boost during the holiday season. During the holidays, some great ways to boost attention (and donations) for your fundraiser are to use high-quality photos and add a winter fundraising idea

 

Start a winter fundraiser

woman taking a selfie while hiking in the snow

Holiday fundraising events

outside wall covered in colorful holiday lights

1. Holiday light tour

If your neighborhood is known for its holiday lights, give groups of people walking tours in the name of your good cause. Participants can pay with a small donation as a way for you to raise money. You can also serve hot apple cider and other holiday treats for a small fee (again, in the form of donations to your cause).

group of people on the beach in the early morning for a polar bear plunge fundraising event

2. Polar bear plunge

Another great option to help expand your fundraising in January and move beyond just the holidays, the polar bear plunge is a great idea. Hardy volunteers take the plunge into the icy waters of a lake, river, ocean, or pool, no wetsuits allowed. Ask competitors to contribute an entrance fee in the form of a donation to your fundraiser. Or have them raise funds through sponsorships from friends and family. Charging spectators a small fee in the form of a donation to your cause is another option, or simply “pass the hat” (or take donations via a mobile device) at the event. Don’t forget to post the action shots. 

children with musical instruments dressed up in festive holiday outfits

3. Holiday concert

A holiday concert is one of the most classic winter fundraising ideas. People love holiday music, and its themes inspire giving. Enlist local choirs, bands, soloists, and other musicians to participate in a community-wide holiday concert. Partner with a local venue who may be willing to host your event (remember that weather is a factor, so you may need an indoor space). Sell tickets in the form of donations to your fundraiser. Remember to bring a mobile device to the concert so people can donate to your fundraiser as they enter.

children's hands making gingerbread houses

4. Gingerbread house party

Another great winter fundraising idea, to get all ages involved, is a gingerbread house party. This family-friendly event is the perfect way to combine fundraising with a classic holiday party. Send out an invite (via email and social media, perhaps using a Facebook Event) to family, friends, and neighbors. Ask for RSVPs to get an idea of how many gingerbread houses you’ll need—buying supplies in bulk may get you a discount. Select a day, time, and place to host the party. Ask attendees to make a donation to your cause as the price of admission. Once the gingerbread houses are complete, have everyone take photos of their creations and share online, along with a link to your fundraiser. This can be especially effective if your cause is related to housing, food, families, or children.

man with eagles hat taking a selfie at a sports game

5. Super Bowl party

The Super Bowl doesn’t happen until early February, but a fundraiser party at this time can be a good choice because it won’t compete with the busy holiday season. To make the event more fun, offer donation options such as $20 for every field goal or $50 for every end-zone dance. Print out a sheet showing these options and ask people to make their selections before the game starts. At the end of the party, collect the pledged amounts—people will be especially glad to pay up if the team they’re rooting for wins.

Simple acts of service

children adding ornaments to a Christmas tree

6. Christmas tree disposal

After the holidays, people often wonder how to get rid of their Christmas trees. Solve the problem with a solution that doubles as a fundraiser: Ask people to place their tree outside for easy pickup, then rent a truck for a day and gather and dispose of your neighbors’ trees. As payment for your service, ask people to make a donation to your fundraiser. Your city (or a nearby one) will likely have a tree recycling program, allowing you to dispose of the trees for free.

two kids selling hot chocolate for charity dressed in holiday outfits

7. Hot chocolate

A hot chocolate station is one of the simplest ideas for winter fundraisers. It’s a great and easy way to help warm people up at football games and other local sporting events and doesn’t cost much to set up. Bring a small table if needed, along with an insulated container of hot chocolate, cups, and whipped cream. Don’t forget a mobile device to accept donations. Before the event, publicize your pop-up hot chocolate stand on your socials to spread awareness and maximize donations.

A little girl standing next to a shopping cart full of toys.

8. Gift wrapping

Another one of the best winter fundraising ideas is to wrap gifts for others. Get started by partnering with a craft store, gift shop, or any store that provides gift wrapping. Gather friends who are good at wrapping gifts, choose a time during peak holiday shopping hours, and wrap people’s gifts in exchange for donations to your good cause. Make sure your volunteers are equipped with wrapping paper, tape, ribbon, blank gift cards, nice pens, and any other needed supplies. Price your services to cover your expenses, bring in extra funds to donate to your fundraiser, and help people feel they’re getting a good value while supporting you. Bring a mobile device to take donations.

two stacks of holiday postcards on a dining room table

9. Appreciation station

January 21 is National Appreciation Day. Make it easy for others to celebrate by hosting an Appreciation Station at any venue with lots of foot traffic. Create a one-stop shop where people can show their appreciation for loved ones by purchasing gifts of flowers, handmade cards, sweets, and more. Offer prices for individual items and bundled sets, priced to cover your expenses, bring in extra funds for your cause and make people feel like they’re getting a good value while supporting you.

Festive fundraising contests

Men wearing Christmas sweaters standing next to bikes.

10. Ugly sweater contest

One of the best winter fundraising ideas that everyone loves to be a part of is an ugly sweater contest. Some of us end up with ugly holiday sweaters—and some put a lot of effort into finding the worst ones they can. Make something beautiful out of this silly trend by hosting an ugly sweater party for your cause. Make treats to serve, or do it potluck style. If you want to get crafty, make your own trophies for Ugliest Sweater, Most Hideous Color, Itchiest Fabric, and other fun categories. Set up a donation station where guests can give to your fundraiser.

Three women serving soup.

11. Soup-off

Issue a challenge to your neighborhood: Who has the best soup recipe? Invite both cooks and tasters to a grand soup-off. Those who bring soup can get in free, but everyone else must make a donation to your cause. Have tasters vote for the best soup, or appoint a judging panel. Invite a panel of three local restaurant chefs to judge the soups and crown a champion.

Virtual ideas for winter fundraisers during COVID-19

A young man and woman laughing at their phones

12. Virtual game night

With the threat of COVID-19, virtual game nights are a great way to fundraise and have some fun. Virtual bingo, video games, and online party games are all ways to connect and fundraise during the winter months.

To join your game night, ask supporters to make a donation as the entry fee. You can ask for a minimum donation amount or simply ask donors to make a donation in any amount. 

A teenage girl doing online yoga

13. Online classes or workshops

Do you have a special skill or talent? Offer to teach an online class for a donation. All you need is internet access, a computer, and a video chat service. You can advertise your fundraiser and class through social media, email, and text to all your friends and family. You can teach everything from cooking, to watercolor painting, to yoga, or any other skill you might have.

A man and woman watching tv from their couch

14. Movie night

With theaters closed and streaming services offering more movies online, a virtual movie night is a perfect opportunity to raise money for your favorite cause. Create a movie night where you offer to stream a movie for a small donation to your fundraiser. It’s also a great way to bond with family, friends, and coworkers that you haven’t seen since the start of lockdown, and it lessens the risk of spreading COVID-19. All you need to do is share your fundraiser, set up a meeting through a video chat service and share your screen.

Spread cheer with holiday fundraising

The giving season is nearly upon us. Amid the hustle and bustle of shopping, parties, and taking the time to help others—and accept the help we need—can remind us of what the holidays are all about. Start your fundraiser today and see why GoFundMe has been the go-to option for so many winter fundraisers. For more ideas, read our blog post titled Fall Fundraising Ideas to Bring in More Donations.

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