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Just the start of 2018’s fall season, wildfires tore through Southern California. Camp Fire resulted in 79 fatalities and 699 unaccounted for (officials are still counting)—the deadliest wildfire in California history. Just as quickly as the flames themselves, people were quick to support and volunteer to salvage what was left of their communities. This is not the first disaster that has impacted America, and unfortunately will not be the last.

During these times of grief, people are more willing to find ways to seek human connection. How do people drive positive emotions such as hope, empathy, and appreciation? Donating and volunteering.

Non-Profit Activity Annually

The end of the year is a time to reflect, and for those more fortunate than others, be thankful for their lives. According to the 2017 Global Trends in Giving report, 61% of donors are inspired to give during the holidays. Why do non-profits experience higher activity in the final quarter of the year compared to the months leading up to it? Over the past decade, methods to receive support for non-profits evolved into social media hashtags like #GivingTuesday, video marketing, partnering with major athletes and businesses, and more. The ability to reach donors is greater than ever before.

How to Be Successful During the Holidays

Much like a business, non-profits need to prepare for increased holiday spending. Here are a few ways to grab donors this season:

Have a Strong Team

Strength doesn’t always come in numbers. Non-profit organizations should have a strong foundation in sectors such as a fundraising, operations, and marketing. Depending on budget, you can establish committees that support the board members’ strengths. Keep in mind that more experienced board members may be expensive to hire, so budget accordingly.

Strategize Digitally

Many organizations in 2018 still mobilize face-to-face, but it is highly recommended that you get online. Email is a crucial fundraising tool—57% of donors say that email is how they initially learn about a fundraising event. In the same report, 62% of donors prefer to donate online. Create a website that is easy for mobile usage. If your funds support it, build an app! The key is to be accessible and make your donation cart easy to find.   

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Tell Your Story

It’s not always about what your story is—it’s how you tell it. Here are a few ways to tell your story:

  • Connect a conflict within your story. The reason people connect with a specific event is to provide a character that people can identify with. If the character is affected, then the audience will also feel affected. Additionally, the bigger the conflict, the more likely the audience will feel affected.
  • Establish your values, such as freedom, health, or even to meet basic human necessities. The non-profit’s values should reflect a greater cause or picture. For example, if you collect non-perishable food, note that it is used to feed the hungry so that they can survive.  
  • Show how the fight is never-ending, but also how you’ve impacted lives. People want to know where their donations are going. Prepare reports, reliable statistics, and/or a start a live feed of how your donations affect the cause so that donors can follow along and share.

Start Early

Prepare, prepare, prepare. In addition to the day-to-day operations in the first half of the year, set aside a few hours each week to prepare for the holidays. As the dates approach, refocus your resources to that time of the year. You need time to prepare committees and volunteers, as well as carry out marketing campaigns. The sooner you prepare, the easier it will be to adapt to any changes or add to your story.

Non-profits are different from businesses in financial distribution, taxation, and values; considering organization, operations, and marketing, they’re not that far-off. Non-profits and businesses alike need to sell an idea to an audience. The success for non-profits, however, isn’t making money—it’s using that money to make a difference in people’s lives.


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