It's a well-known fact that when the temperature drops, the fundraising heats up. From Giving Tuesday to year-end gifts, the winter months tend to inspire generosity in both spirit and wallet.
So, how can you take advantage of the season of giving to keep the giving coming, filling those (literally and metaphorically) dark days from November through February? Read on for our list of un-brr-lievably awesome winter fundraising ideas—and that’s snow joke. (Sorry, sorry.) And, as usual, take a look at our sometimes-cheeky, sometimes-serious fundraising ideas for more inspiration or download our Winter Fundraising Calendar!
Winter Fundraising Ideas for 2021 & 2022
1. Native American Heritage Month (November)
Every November in the United States, we celebrate the culture and people who have been here since the first days. This month, dedicate a series of emails, blog posts, or videos to the indigenous people in your area. Partner with local experts and commit funds and support to causes that affect you both.
2. World Vegan Day (November 1)
Even if you’re not an environmental or animal rights nonprofit, World Vegan Day is a great excuse to kick off the winter season with a healthy bang by hosting a vegan cooking class or doing a vegan bake sale. And if the day does align with your mission (i.e., you’re a health, environmental, or animal rights nonprofit), scroll down to our January ideas and consider using World Vegan Day as a teaser for Veganuary.
Bonus: For the vegan skeptics, offer them a side-by-side blind taste test; $2 to taste, and they get $1 back for every vegan food item they correctly identify.
3. No-Shave November
Put the razor down and step away. No-Shave November is all about raising money and awareness for cancer prevention, treatment, and research. Consider asking supporters to donate in honor of someone with cancer—or you can just raise awareness for a great cause! Movember is a similar concept—tackle what feels right for your organization and audience.
4. Diwali (November 4)
If the only reference to Diwali that you have is The Office's Diwali episode, it's time to do some research. The post-harvest festival of lights holiday is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists, and could be a great event to expand your community's cultural awareness and build relationships. If you're hosting an event, though, partner with people who understand the culture and pay local event planners, caterers, and entertainment for whom Diwali is more than just a moment on a comedy show.
5. Veteran's Day, otherwise known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day (November 11)
There's no way that we can properly thank our military veterans for their service to our country, but acknowledging their sacrifices with a USO-themed dinner and show is a starting point! Advertise far and wide, and make sure that veterans get free entry, a front-row seat, and an appreciative shout-out.
6. Happy Hour Day (November 12)
Baby, it’s cold outside, and that means everyone wants to leave work an hour early to grab a hot toddy or hot chocolate (“hot” being the key word). Host your own festive happy hour fundraiser to celebrate that wonderful time of day when the drinks and snacks are cheap and plentiful—or partner with a local bar and ask them to donate a percentage of their daily HH sales to your cause. Not ready to gather indoors with strangers yet? Try hosting a Zoom cocktail or mocktail mixology class.
7. World Kindness Day (November 13)
Was this holiday made for fundraising? On World Kindness Day, send out a simple fundraising email that encourages donors to connect to their community and give generously. Include inspiring quotes or stories of small acts that have had big results.
Bonus: Ask community members if they need assistance with small tasks and match them with supporters willing to help out. Think small home repairs, errands for the housebound, or rearranging furniture to accommodate mobility.
8. Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20)
9. Buy Nothing Day (November 26)
Buying nothing is great, but isn’t giving something back greater? Otherwise known in the US as Black Friday, Buy Nothing Day is all about protesting consumerism, which makes it a great opportunity to ask your donors to give to a good cause. Alternately, ask supporters to pledge matching gifts for every dollar they spend on Black Friday.
10. Hanukkah (November 28 - December 6)
11. Giving Tuesday (November 30)
This is so obvious that we're just going to point you at our Giving Tuesday Toolkit. Break some fundraising records, nonprofit friends!
12. International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3)
An appropriate way to recognize International Day of Persons with Disabilities, a UN day of observance, is to do a building audit and develop an access handbook for your offices and facilities. Get community members to pledge donations for the updates and then highlight the increased accessibility.
13. Gender Expansive Parents' Day (December 6)
As of December 6, 2020, Gender Expansive Parents' Day officially recognizes parents who do not identify with mother or father titles. Sending a card for Parents' Day is an easy way to appreciate donors who are parents, but make this a one-of-a-kind design to truly celebrate non-binary parents or parental figures who don't normally have cards that recognize them for who they are separate from mothers and fathers.
Since cards are technically stewardship, try a family talent show fundraiser to highlight all types of families and all types of talents. If Moira and David Rose can pull off a jazzy parent-child song-and-dance number, think of the possibilities for your donor base! Bonus: This is the type of event that can go virtual (and viral!)
14. Winter Warm-Up
When you think of warming drinks, lots of delicious options come to mind: hot cocoa, tea with lemon, café au lait, ciders, mulled wine, and even hot buttered rum! Sell supporter snuggles via delivery to your local network and pair each warming drink with a thermos or mug, streaming selection (potentially access to a new release!), and snacks like popcorn, marshmallows, and cookies. Then cuddle up and chill out!
15. International Human Rights Day (December 10)
The name says it all. As an official UN observance, organizations worldwide will be focusing on human rights and your organization can join in assistance. Try out a peer-to-peer fundraiser with a reminder that while many people are preoccupied with bright and shiny holidays, the fight for basic human rights goes on.
16. Gift-Wrapping Fundraiser
Some people love nothing more than to curl ribbons and tie bows. Others, not so much. For the less-crafty among us, host a gift-wrapping event during which volunteers wrap people’s gifts in exchange for donations. Maybe you can even snag a prime spot in front of the local toy store! Don't forget that you can take payment in any form that works for you: cold, hard cash, toys for disadvantaged kids, warm socks for the homeless, canned goods for the local food pantry, or social shares and peer-to-peer networking!
17. Las Posadas (December 16-24)
18. Festivus (December 23)
Some people love the holidays—packed malls, delayed flights, and all. For the rest of us, there’s Festivus, a secular holiday that originated on the comedy show Seinfeld and serves as an antidote to the more commercial and religious aspects of the season. While the Seinfeld version of the holiday includes the “Airing of Grievances” and an unadorned aluminum pole in lieu of a tree, your Festivus festival fundraiser (say that three times fast) can be whatever you want it to be—just keep it inclusive and lighthearted.
Just throwing this out there: if we hosted a Festivus fundraiser, it would definitely include all our favorite things, probably at once. Like... a costumed roller-skating mini-golf tournament. With shots of warm alphabet soup after every hole.
In Germany, it's tradition to go to the Weihnachtsmarkt before Christmas for locally made gifts, food, and drinks (like glühwein!), as well as festive entertainment and ambiance. Hold your own Weihnachtsmarkt to raise funds for your nonprofit and support local vendors.
20. Winter Solstice (December 21)
For the Summer Solstice, we suggest a candelit, nature-focused dinner. For the Winter Solstice, however, we're drawn to the idea of a moonlit, nature-focused family fundraising festival of fun and games. Think sledding, ice-skating, snow angels, and warming cider—and if you're lacking snow, break out the astronomy apps and snuggle up to starlight.
21. Kisan Diwas - National Farmers' Day in India (December 23)
22. Wreath-Making Workshop
Making a wreath is fun and simple, plus your wreath-making fundraiser can be held outdoors to cut down on the mess and the germs—just remind everyone to bundle up! You provide the boughs, wire, and embellishments; participants will bring the holiday spirit and donations.
23. Christmas (December 25)
24. Boxing Day (December 26)
25. Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1)
26. Make Cut-Out Snowflakes Day (December 27)
Making snowflakes is a craft as old as snow. This artsy holiday is the perfect opportunity to host a by-donation, kid-friendly snowflake-making event, complete with hot cocoa and other treats. Ask donors for $1 per snowflake: along with donations, you'll end up with sweet seasonal decorations for your lobby, while donors get to support a great cause and have a fun day out of the house.
Bonus: Post pictures of your "snowdrift"—all the snowflakes in a pile—and let donors guess how many are in the pile... for a price. Split the pot 50/50 with the person who guesses closest!
27. National Resolution Planning Day (December 30)
Only 10% of people are successful at keeping their New Year’s resolutions for a full year, but you can help change that by enrolling monthly donors on National Resolution Planning Day! Send out a fundraising email encouraging supporters to make an easy, impactful resolution by giving monthly to your cause. They’ll feel great about it, and you will, too.
28. Last Day of the Year (December 31)
When most people are donning sequins and sipping sparkling something, nonprofiteers are generally scrambling to solicit and process last-minute donations. December 31st is, after all, the biggest fundraising day of the year. Our suggestion? Keep it simple with The Minimalist Guide to Year-End Fundraising.
29. Veganuary (January)
For any nonprofits with a mission around animal rights or health, Veganuary is a great fundraising opportunity. Encourage supporters to start the new year off kindly, healthily, and mindfully by participating in 31 days of following a plant-based diet—and pledging a donation for every time they slip up and sneak a piece of bacon over the month. You can also send weekly emails with tasty recipes and reminders. Here's a reminder to start you off: Oreos are vegan!
30. New Year's Day (January 1)
31. National Trivia Day (January 4)
A trivia fundraiser is cost-effective, easy, and, best of all, super fun. Celebrate the art of knowing random facts by hosting a virtual trivia night fundraiser for your supporters, and encourage them to invite friends and family to join in the fun. You can even throw in some questions about your organization or industry to up the impact.
32. Dress Up Your Pet Day (January 14)
Cats in tuxes. Dogs in lobster costumes. Heck, lobsters dressed as mermaids! Help your donors shake off the winter doldrums with a pet costume contest or pet fashion show. And if your nonprofit works in animal rights, welfare, or services, you can host an adoption day to show off your most dapper dogs, coolest cats, and loveliest lobsters.
Bonus! Take photos of gussied up adoptable animals and use the photos to drum up interest in animals that need a forever home.
33. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 17)
Recognize Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and teachings by encouraging your supporters to reflect, remember, and fight for justice. If you’re a civil rights or racial justice nonprofit, by all means, ask for donations. Otherwise, direct your supporters to education resources and volunteer efforts with racial justice organizations.
34. International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)
35. National LEGO Day (January 28)
There are so many LEGO fundraisers out there that LEGO has its own hashtag for the occasion: #buildtogive, so combining the hashtag with this day of creativity is the perfect storm for a LEGO-centric fundraising event. You could have everyone contribute to one big LEGO masterpiece together, or you could host a contest with prizes for the best creations.
Extra mile: Find a LEGO competition near you and get your community involved in supporting kids learning STEM.
36. Winter Wine Tasting
The long days of winter can get anyone down, but rather than sitting around and whining about it, why not wine about it? Host a virtual wine tasting or partner with a local vineyard to raise funds and refine palates. The outdoors element is a surefire way to attract a specific subset of donors who love being outside wrapped in a blanket next to a fire pit or with a heat lamp overhead.
37. Black History Month (February)
There are many ways that your nonprofit can honor the accomplishments, struggles, and victories of generations of Black Americans. You could commission a community member to give a city-wide tour of local monuments and historical sites to learn about Black heritage. You could also direct community members to local Black-owned businesses, online exhibitions featuring Black artists, and/or educational resources. And don’t forget to encourage folks to support your fellow nonprofits that are working to promote Black culture and education and community development.
38. National Freedom Day (February 1)
39. Lunar New Year (February 1)
Most people who celebrate Lunar New Year will tell you that aside from the colorful, dynamic festivities, the best part of the holiday is the food. Lunar New Year, a sacred traditional holiday in China, Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Mongolia, and more countries and cultures around the world, is the perfect moment to patronize local restaurants, catering companies, and food vendors with a progressive dinner. Map out an evening of eating and learning and sell tickets that include transportation or guides in addition to the food and drink. Don't forget to compensate contributors for their sharing their cultural knowledge.
40. International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11)
Science Fair time! Give the women and girls in your community a chance to show off their STEM skillz with an old-fashioned science fair. Either open the categories to anything and everything they can dream up or narrow the field to something specific that relates to your mission.
Get a corporate sponsor or major donor to provide prizes, ask for donations at the door, sell raffle tickets and snacks, and repurpose the content for your social and web platforms.
41. Galentine’s Day (February 13)
Any Parks and Recreation fans out there? We see you. On this day, celebrate the power of female friendships by asking supporters to make a donation in honor of their loveliest lady friends. Then, share your favorite waffle recipe. (P.S. if you haven’t watched Parks and Rec, we’ll wait here while you catch up.)
42. Super Bowl (February 13)
Kick off the Super Bowl on the right foot by hosting a fundraiser. Whether it’s a fantasy football league, a bowling tournament, or a soup-er bowl dinner (that’s a fundraising dinner during which you serve soup, if you didn’t know), Super Bowl Sunday offers endless fundraising opportunities. Oooh, or what about a nacho-eating contest? So many possibilities!
43. National (Organ) Donor Day (February 14)
See what we did there? National Donor Day? Seems like a holiday custom-made for stewardship. But hey, if you're dead-set on fundraising for Valentine's Day, ask your supporters to make a donation in their Valentine’s name instead of buying another box of chocolates or bouquet of long-stemmed roses. To make your fundraising efforts stand out, you could then send physical V-Day cards to all the honorees.
44. Parinirvana Day (February 15)
45. Maghi-Purnima (February 16)
46. Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17)
Send a fundraising email with a list of random acts of kindness, from paying for a stranger’s coffee to giving up your seat on the bus. The number one item on your list? Making a donation, of course.
P.S. Double down by adding "Become a monthly donor" to the list as well.
47. World Day of Social Justice (February 20)
We're going to go out on a limb here to suggest you take World Day of Social Justice to your social platforms! Post on your social accounts and ask your supporters to do the same, with a specific invitation to create a social justice social fundraiser they can share far and wide.
48. World NGO Day (February 27)
Conveniently coinciding with No Brainer Day, World NGO Day gives you the perfect opening to offer donors a "no-brainer" solution to the problems your nonprofit is working to fix: Just hit that Donate button! Looking for something a bit more exciting? Hold a biNGO tournament where the emphasis is on the N-G-O—your donors and your NGO will both be winners.