The last three months of the year is a crucial time for charitable organizations. According to Double the Donation, Giving Tuesday continues to raise roughly $2 billion annually, with 27 million adults participating. In addition, roughly 30% of all annual giving happens in December, with 10% of contributions flooding in during the last three days of the year.
Translation: Your organization better be cooking up some creative campaigns for your year-end ask.
Plus, making a year-end donation offers several tax benefits for supporters as well. In 2021, a new tax bill states every individual can take a standard deduction on their tax return without itemizing (up to $300, or $600 for couples). The IRS even allows taxpayers to deduct expenses related to volunteer work (such as gas mileage), which can reduce their overall taxable income.
In other words, making a year-end donation often pays for itself—which can work to your advantage when planning your year-end campaign.
Below, we offer plenty of creative, fun campaigns for your year-end ask.
9 creative ways to boost year-end donations
Your year-end campaign is critical to the survival of your organization, and you want to make a big statement. Below, we share a number of inventive ideas to boost end-of-year donations.
1. Host a ski-a-thon ⛷
While hosting a dance-a-thon or a 5k run/walk might be the perfect fundraiser for summer, the winter months call from some cold weather activities. To bring in extra funds at the end of the year, host a ski-a-thon in your hometown. Create a cross-country skiing course and have teams pass the baton after each lap. Be sure to implement multi-team fundraising to boost your total contributions.
2. Create an ugly sweater contest 👕
Ready to strut your stuff on the runway? Bring out your best knits, because you're about to host an ugly sweater contest for your public charity. You can easily rent out your gym or multi-purpose room of your school in order to host this event. If you really want to get creative with it, recruit a panel of judges and allow contestants to enter in different categories. To boost sales, be sure to sell tickets online in advance, or accept Venmo or cash donations at the door for last-minute contributions.
3. Offer a holiday clean-up crew 🌲
Who couldn't use an extra hand around the holidays? If you're a high school sports team or club, offer your valuable service to the community around the holidays. Gather your crew together and allow your supporters to "bid" on their helping hands. Your crew can offer their services however your supporters see fit—whether it's removing Christmas trees, shoveling snowy driveways, or cleaning up after a rowdy holiday party.
To accept charitable donations on the fly, be sure to accept whichever payment method your supporters choose—whether it be Venmo, PayPal, credit card, text-to-donate, or cash contributions.
4. Host a very merry pub crawl 🍻
Let's face the facts: The months around year-end are stressful—whether you're a nonprofit organization or not. With holiday parties, time with extended family, and far too many deadlines to fathom, the people in your community are often due for a much needed break (preferably, with a pint in hand).
To collect year-end donations for your organization, partner with local pubs to create a festive pub crawl (if you wish, you can invite supporters to dress up for the occasion). Sell tickets to the event in advance, and—since everyone's schedules are jam-packed around the holidays—include a "Can't attend? Donate!" option for loyal supporters.
5. Throw a year-end masquerade 🎊
New Year's Eve isn't the only time to get dolled up. For the last wave of charitable contributions of the year, throw a show-stopping end-of-year masquerade for your charity or private foundation. Your holiday soiree can feature winter-themed cocktails, an outdoor skating rink (if there's space), gingerbread village, cookie-decorating station, or whichever other elements you wish. To garner excitement for your grand event, be sure to create a branded donation page specifically for the masquerade, and embed a donation form on your website.
6. Create a downhill sledding course 🏂
When the temperatures drop, it can be all-too-tempting to stay inside. Why not transform those cold weather blues into a fun, end-of-year campaign?
Find a large, semi-secluded area in your hometown that would offer some downhill slopes. Pro tip: If there's a hilly golf course nearby, speak to the owners. The course will be completely empty with snow on the ground, and they could waive the rental fee as a last-minute tax deduction.
7. Put together an end-of-year concert 🎶
Whether you're raising funds for a place of worship, an elementary school, or a local club, a year-end concert is a great way to boost charitable giving. Allow your church choir or class to perform on stage, singing favorite songs or carols.
To help push your year-end giving targets across the finish line, advertise the concert as a hybrid event. Supporters can purchase tickets to attend in-person or within the comfort and safety of their own homes by watching a live stream. If you wish, you can record the concert and sell the recording as a last-minute holiday gift to see a little boost in donations.
8. Gather everyone together for a holiday market 🎁
These days, it can be hard to find one-of-a-kind, personal holiday gifts. Fulfill that need—and raise funds for your nonprofit—by putting together a holiday market in your hometown. Choose a piece of real estate that can accommodate a large group of people (such as your gymnasium, or, if you prefer an outdoor location due to the pandemic, your town square) and invite local artisans, crafters, and small business owners to sell their goods.
To boost contributions, invite local restaurants or coffee shops to sponsor the event, selling hot cocoa, coffee, and treats to shoppers (which can grant them a last-minute deduction on their tax return). You can also recruit volunteers to wrap presents for supporters, thereby increasing donations to your charitable organization.
9. Put on a movie marathon 🎥
Yes, holiday movies are notoriously corny, and yes, we love them for it. For a fun way to boost end-of-year charitable gifts, throw a holiday movie marathon for your organization. You can easily rent out your local library, multi-purpose room, or rec center for the event, and (hopefully) have the fee waived in exchange for an itemized deduction.
To boost donations, sell tickets in advance and have supporters check in via a QR code at the door. You can also sell snacks like soda, popcorn, and candy, and have supporters pay via cash or Venmo. Or, you can partner with local businesses to transform the event into a movie-and-pizza night, selling slices in exchange for a donation.
Givebutter is the all-in-one solution to boost year-end donations
The last three months of the year have the potential to bring in 30% of your annual contributions.
Plus, making a last-minute contribution is a win-win situation for qualified charities (those with tax-exempt status) and supporters alike, as it can reduce your supporters' adjusted gross income for the tax year.
To make the most of this fundraising season, you need a creative campaign to excite your supporters. While this post (hopefully) gave you a few fun ideas to get started, Givebutter is the all-in-one platform that can put your plans into action.
With hundreds of fundraising features, a built-in CRM platform, and marketing automation tools, Givebutter is the complete solution to help you reach your year-end goal. Ready to see how Givebutter can transform your fundraising efforts? Create your free account to get started.
Kylie thrives on supporting others, making everyone’s jobs easier, and cinnamon in her coffee.