Holiday marketing prep guide for nonprofits – Part 1: Plan & Promotion Ideas


“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” may not be ringing through your ears quite yet, but the hope is that, with enough holiday foresight you’ll be able to sign it at the top of your lungs without worry of your nonprofit’s year-end fundraising goals.

Thank goodness for digital marketing giant, Hubspot, and its holiday content offer, “The Guide to Ecommerce Holiday Success.” And thank goodness for the Nerdy Nonprofit and how we’re about to break down this guide for nonprofit’s specifically.

Step 1: Ask Questions

  • What worked for your fundraising efforts last year? OR what should you definitely do again?
  • … and what didn’t? Rather, what should you definitely weigh heavily before repeating
  • Did you time your heightened efforts appropriately?
  • What is your fundraising goal?
  • Which social channel, content format and/or advertising method worked for your audience?

Step 2: Break all your nonprofit’s fundraising goals down into digestible pieces

As Hubspot reminds us, it’s much too overwhelming to accomplish all your goals all at once. Find ways to silo your goals and map out what you hope to accomplish when. One Hubspot recommendation that might really help is to break out the Holiday Season into several pieces…

  • Thanksgiving: Mon., Nov. 21st – Thurs., Nov. 24th
  • Black Friday: Fri., Nov. 25th – Sat., Nov. 26th
  • Cyber Monday: Sun., Nov. 27th – Tues., Nov. 29th
  • GIVING TUESDAY (our own edition): Tues., Nov. 29th
  • Christmas & Hanukkah: Thurs., Dec. 1st – Sun., Dec. 25th
  • New Years: Mon., Dec. 26th – Wed., Jan. 4th

Knowing what goals you hope to meet and at what point, will help this time of year feel more approachable. Moreover, uncovering what audience to target and via which digital network will help you be more efficient in your digital marketing efforts.

Remember this effort at this time of year is worth it! Especially if you target Giving Tuesday, you may see donations well beyond your goals. Check out this encouraging data regarding Giving Tuesday and its development since its initiation:

Data source: Wikipedia & Blackbaud

Step 3: Start some serious brainstorming

Now that you’ve established your nonprofit’s goals, timelines and focus, it’s time to get creative. We’ve discussed preparing for Giving Tuesday in a previous post, but how can we get creative with the entire season of campaigns?

Hubspot broke down a list of ideas to get the creative juices flowing, but let’s apply them to nonprofit’s specifically:

  • Take the idea of gifting and craft it for your campaign:

– Encourage your audience to give a gift to their loved one and also a gift to someone they might not know. Underline how valuable gift-giving is in general and then show how much a gift could mean to a stranger.

– Understand that your audience may be feeling stressed about finances and incorporate that into your messaging. You understand they may not feel they have extra cash as they buy presents for the family AND donate, so could their family decide to sacrifice a gift and give one to those in need?

  • Use the age-old marketing tactic of urgency:

– Even though donations are valuable all year round, use a countdown to remind your audience of timing. People often put off donating and doing good till later when they believe they’ll have more time and resources. Emphasize that the difference will be biggest if they make a donation now.

– Tie in some humor with last-minute shoppers. Are they a little late to getting to the store or sending that Christmas card? Well luckily it’s never too late to give a small gift with HUGE benefits to your cause.

  • Reward those who’ve helped:

– The holidays are perhaps the best time to be thanking your donors. For one, they deserve thanks. Likewise, hearing from your cause about how grateful you are and what a difference they made may help them feel inclined to donate again. The holidays are filled with anxiety as people want to gift their friends and family, and we often feel guilty when we can’t afford this or that or when we get too materialistic ourselves. Remind your donors of the good they’ve done and the true meaning of the holidays.

Step 4: Focus on email specifically

Maybe you haven’t been the best at reviewing your nonprofit’s current email marketing efforts (which you should be!), but if there’s any time you must, it’s now! During this season, potential donors and campaigners are receiving more salesy emails than ever, some of which leave them feeling dry and discouraged as the true spirit of the holiday is dampened. Your nonprofit has time to stand out – as long as you find the best subject line, the most concise and effective messaging and the easiest user experience possible.

Analyze your nonprofit email marketing effectively with the help of “Would YOU read your nonprofit marketing newsletter?

Step 5: Create a social media budget and AdWords campaign

Yes, email is the go-to tool as it’s effective AND affordable, but have a plan for your other channels as well. Facebook, Twitter and especially Google have free resources for nonprofits – take advantage of them in full throttle for your nonprofit’s holiday marketing. In the very least, we strongly encourage you to set up your Google AdWords campaign to gain $10,000 in Google Grant money.

Hubspot also provides you with several easy-to-use social media calendars.

Get strategizing and read Part 2 next!