Fundraising     |     7 December 2023

23 holiday fundraising ideas to end the year right

23 minute read

hanging door decoration that reads ''Happy New

The end of the year is not just a time for celebration and reflection; it’s also a crucial period for fundraisers. This season offers a unique opportunity for volunteers and small groups dedicated to various causes. It’s a time when the spirit of giving is at its peak, and communities are drawn together by a shared desire to make a difference. Embracing this season with innovative fundraising ideas can amplify the impact of your efforts and provide a fun activity for would-be donors. 

Holiday fundraising comes with its own challenges, especially for those juggling these responsibilities alongside their daily commitments. This time of year is where creativity and strategy come into play. By adopting fresh, engaging ideas that resonate with the festive mood, you can capture the attention and hearts of your community, turning the joyous atmosphere into a catalyst for meaningful contributions.

So, as we explore various holiday fundraising ideas, remember that these suggestions are more than just activities; they’re gateways to building stronger communities and supporting worthy causes during this special time of the year. Let’s explore how you can end your year on a high note with fundraising initiatives that are not only effective but also full of holiday cheer.

23 holiday fundraising ideas

1. Host a themed silent auction

A themed silent auction can be a captivating way to raise funds during the holiday season. Utilizing Silent Auction Pro, you can effortlessly manage the event, from item listings to final bids.

  • Selecting items: Choose items that resonate with the holiday spirit. Consider festive decorations, gift baskets, holiday getaways, or experiences like a Christmas light tour.
  • Setting the scene: Decorate your auction space to reflect the holiday theme – think twinkling lights, ornaments, menorahs/kinaraa, and holiday music.
  • Promotion: Use social media, email newsletters, and community bulletins to spread the word. Highlight unique items to pique interest.
  • Engagement: Encourage participants to dress in holiday attire and consider live-streaming parts of the event to reach a wider audience.

2. Winter wonderland gala

Transform your fundraising event into a magical winter wonderland gala. This gala can be an in-person event or adapted into a virtual setting.

  • Venue and decor: If in-person, select a venue that allows for stunning decorations, such as snowflakes, ice sculptures, and a cozy fireplace setup. 
  • Entertainment: Hire local musicians or entertainers to perform holiday classics. Include interactive elements like a photo booth.
  • Fundraising activities: Incorporate a raffle or a mini-auction into the event. Use Silent Auction Pro for easy management of these activities.
  • Catering: For in-person events, offer a holiday-themed menu with traditional drinks and desserts. 

3. Holiday concert

A holiday concert can bring people together for a cause. These are great in-person but can also be virtual to allow people to enjoy the show from the comfort of home. 

  • Talent acquisition: Reach out to local artists, community choirs, or high school jazz bands who might be interested in performing.
  • Technical setup: Ensure you have the right equipment and streaming platform for virtual performances. A test run before the event can help iron out any technical glitches.
  • Ticket sales: Sell tickets online, offering different tiers for various perks, like a post-concert meet-and-greet..

4. Holiday Bake-off Contest

Close up of a delicious apple pie in a white ceramic
								bowl next to a bowl of fresh apples

Who can resist the allure of holiday treats? A holiday bake-off is a fun way to engage the community and raise funds, all while helping local bakers showcase their skills in the kitchen. 

  • Participant registration: Set up an online registration portal with entry fees. Use categories like cookies, cakes, and pies to organize the contest.
  • Venue: Choose a spacious venue for in-person events or plan for a virtual submission and judging process.
  • Judging and prizes: Involve local celebrities or chefs as judges. Offer enticing prizes for the winners, sponsored by local businesses.
  • Sale of goods: Post-competition, consider selling the baked goods to attendees or online, with proceeds going to your cause.

5. Festive craft workshop

Conducting a craft workshop is a delightful way to engage the community during the holidays. It’s an opportunity for participants to create their own holiday decorations while supporting a good cause.

  • Workshop planning: Choose popular crafts like ornament making, DIY dreidels, wreath creation, or homemade gift wrapping. Ensure the workshop is suitable for various skill levels.
  • Materials and venue: Source materials in bulk to reduce costs. Host the workshop in a community center or other accessible venue.
  • Registration and fees: Set up an online registration system with a participation fee. Offer discounts for groups or early birds to encourage sign-ups.
  • Instructor engagement: Collaborate with local artists or craft enthusiasts who can lead the workshop, adding a touch of expertise.

6. Seasonal photo competition

A photography contest themed around the holidays can capture the festive spirit in a unique way. It’s a chance for amateur and professional photographers to showcase their talent.

  • Contest categories: Establish different categories like ‘Best Holiday Lights,’ ‘Winter Landscapes,’ or ‘Family Festivities.’
  • Entry fees and prizes: Charge a nominal fee for each entry. Arrange for attractive prizes from local businesses, which could also serve as sponsors.
  • Promotion and submission: Promote the contest through social media and local clubs. Set up a simple submission process through an online platform.
  • Judging and exhibition: Involve local artists or photographers in the judging process. Consider an online exhibition of the top entries to engage a wider audience. Framed printouts of the winning photos can be auctioned off or sold to raise additional funds. 

7. Holiday 5K run/walk

A large group of men dressed in Santa outfits
								preparing for a 5k race

A themed 5K run or walk is an excellent way to promote health and community spirit. Encourage participants to dress in festive attire to add to the fun. Think of fun themes like “Reindeer Run” or “Run a Latke 5k” to spark interest.

  • Route planning: Choose a scenic route that can be easily marked and managed. Ensure safety measures are in place. Check with your city for any requirements or policies regarding races. 
  • Registration and bibs: Set up online registration with a fee. Provide participants with numbered bibs, possibly incorporating a holiday design.
  • Sponsorships: Reach out to local businesses for sponsorships, offering to display their logos on race materials.
  • Post-event activities: Organize a small celebration post-event with refreshments, music, and possibly an award ceremony for different categories.

8. Custom holiday merchandise sale

Selling custom holiday-themed merchandise is a great way to raise funds. Items like ornaments, apparel, or calendars can be popular.

  • Product selection: Choose products that are likely to appeal to a wide audience. Ensure they are of good quality and appropriately priced.
  • Design and production: Collaborate with local artists for unique designs. Consider using a print-on-demand service to minimize upfront costs.
  • Online store: Set up an online store for easy purchasing. Promote the merchandise on your website, social media, and newsletters.
  • Packaging and delivery: Offer attractive packaging and reliable delivery options to enhance the buying experience.

9. Community caroling event

Caroling is a classic holiday activity that can bring joy and a sense of togetherness. It can be organized in neighborhoods, senior centers, or as a larger community event. If you use a venue/location, you can sell tickets. If you do a more traditional door-to-door caroling event, make sure to ask for donations for your cause/organization. 

  • Song Selection and Rehearsals: Choose a mix of traditional and popular carols. Organize a few rehearsal sessions for volunteers.
  • Route and Permissions: Plan a route and get necessary permissions if required. Consider live streaming the event for those who cannot attend.
  • Donations: Encourage donations from participants and spectators. Set up an online donation option, like Venmo, for those who don’t carry cash. 
  • Community Engagement: Involve local schools, choirs, or community groups to participate, broadening the event’s reach.

10. Christmas tree sale

Partnering with local tree farms to sell Christmas trees can be a festive and profitable fundraising activity.

  • Partnership and selection: Establish partnerships with local tree farms. Select a variety of sizes and types of trees.
  • Sales venue: Choose a location with high visibility and accessibility. Ensure you have enough space and volunteers to manage sales.
  • Promotion: Advertise the sale through community boards, social media, and local partnerships.
  • Additional offerings: Consider selling wreaths, garlands, or tree stands as additional items to boost sales.

11. Holiday movie marathon

Hosting a holiday movie marathon is a fantastic way to spread cheer. This event can be in person at a local venue or even outdoors, if you live in a warmer area.

  • Movie selection: Choose a mix of classic and contemporary holiday films.
  • Venue and setup: If in-person, select a cozy venue and decorate it with festive flair. 
  • Entrance fee: Charge a small fee for entry. Offer packages for families or groups to encourage more participation.
  • Concessions and intermissions: Sell holiday-themed snacks and beverages. During intermissions, engage the audience with trivia or short games.

12. Gift wrapping service

A gift-wrapping station in a high-traffic area like a mall or community center can be a lucrative holiday fundraiser.

  • Location and setup: Secure a visible and accessible spot. Set up a festive and efficient wrapping station with tables, wrapping paper, ribbons, and tags.
  • Volunteer training: Train volunteers in various gift-wrapping techniques to ensure a professional service.
  • Pricing structure: Establish clear pricing based on the size and complexity of the wrapping. Consider offering premium options for special embellishments.
  • Promotion: Advertise your service in advance through local businesses, social media, and community boards.

13. Holiday recipe book sale

Compile and sell a collection of holiday recipes from community members, which can be a cherished keepsake and a great fundraiser.

  • Recipe collection: Invite community members to submit their favorite holiday recipes. Include a mix of appetizers, main courses, desserts, and drinks. Mix things up to be more inclusive and interesting. Try Kwanzaa dishes (black-eyed peas and collard greens), Hanukkah meals (challah and brisket), or New Year’s Day dishes from around the world.
  • Book design and printing: Design the book to have a festive look. Collaborate with a local printer for a cost-effective printing solution.
  • Sales channels: Sell the book online, at community events, and through local stores. Offer it as a great holiday gift idea.
  • Online version: Consider creating a digital version that can be sold and downloaded online for wider reach.

14. Ugly sweater party

Three friends in ugly Christmas sweaters petting a dog
								in front of a Christmas tree

An Ugly Sweater Party is a fun and interactive way to engage your community. It’s perfect for a light-hearted, festive gathering.

  • Venue and decorations: Decorate with holiday ornaments and a photo booth for sweater pictures.
  • Ticket sales: Sell tickets online and at the door. Offer discounts for early bird registrations.
  • Contest and prizes: Host a contest for the ugliest sweater with prizes for winners. Involve the audience in the voting process.
  • Additional fundraising: Incorporate a silent auction or a raffle during the event for additional fundraising.

15. Festive raffle draw

Organizing a Festive Raffle Draw can be a pleasant and engaging method to raise funds during the holiday season. This approach taps into the excitement of winning while supporting a good cause.

  • Prize collection: Begin by sourcing a variety of attractive, holiday-themed prizes that will appeal to a broad audience. Contact local businesses for donations such as holiday hampers, gift vouchers, festive decorations, and perhaps even a grand prize like a weekend getaway or a high-value tech gadget. Highlighting contributions from local sponsors gives them visibility and strengthens community ties.
  • Ticket sales: Decide on the price of the raffle tickets, keeping them affordable to encourage widespread participation. Tickets can be sold online through a dedicated platform, at local community events, or even at popular gathering spots like markets or shopping centers. Consider offering a bundle deal, where purchasing multiple tickets is discounted.
  • Promotion strategy: Utilize social media, local newspapers, community bulletin boards, and word of mouth to promote your raffle draw

16. Hot cocoa stand

Setting up a hot cocoa stand at community events during the chilly holiday season offers warmth and joy while raising funds.

  • Location selection: Choose high-traffic areas at events or busy street corners. Ensure you have the necessary permits.
  • Preparation and supplies: Stock up on quality cocoa, disposable cups, and various toppings like marshmallows and whipped cream.
  • Volunteer staffing: Have a friendly team to serve and engage with customers. Consider having a donation jar for extra contributions.
  • Marketing: Advertise your stand at the event and on social media to attract more visitors.

17. Holiday greeting cards sale

Selling unique holiday greeting cards created by local artists or community members can support local talent and your cause.

  • Artist collaboration: Partner with local artists or invite community members to submit card designs. Collect a variety of themes representing all of the end-of-the-year holidays.
  • Printing and packaging: Opt for quality printing to make the cards attractive. Offer them in packs for added value.
  • Sales strategy: Sell the cards at community events, local stores, or online. Use social media to showcase the designs.
  • Eco-friendly options: Consider offering digital versions or using eco-friendly materials as selling points.

18. Festive workshops (e.g., gingerbread house or kugel making)

Holiday-themed workshops like gingerbread house making are not only fun but also great for engaging the community.

  • Workshop planning: Decide on the theme and necessary materials. Ensure the workshop is suitable for families and individuals.
  • Venue and registration: Host it at a community center or virtually. Set up an online registration system with a fee.
  • Expert involvement: Collaborate with local bakers or crafters to lead the workshop, enhancing its appeal.
  • Promotion: Use social media and local networks to promote the event.

19. New year resolution workshop

Offering a workshop to help people plan their New Year resolutions can be both inspiring and beneficial.

  • Program structure: Design the workshop to cover goal setting, planning, and motivational techniques.
  • Expert speakers: Involve life coaches or motivational speakers to provide expert advice.
  • Materials and resources: Provide attendees with resources like worksheets or planners.
  • Virtual option: Consider an online version for broader accessibility and convenience.

20. Holiday lights tour

A large house with a massive Christmas light display

Organize a tour showcasing beautifully decorated houses or areas known for their festive lights.

  • Route planning: Map out a route that covers the most spectacularly decorated homes or neighborhoods.
  • Ticket sales: Sell tickets online and at local community centers. Offer family packages for added value.
  • Transportation: Arrange for buses or carriages if necessary, considering safety and comfort.
  • Community involvement: Involve local homeowners in the planning to make the tour more engaging.

21. Adopt-a-family program

Encourage community members to sponsor a family’s holiday needs, creating a personal and impactful giving experience.

  • Family selection: Collaborate with local charities to identify families in need of different faiths, backgrounds, and cultures. 
  • Program setup: Create a system where donors can select a family to support, either financially or through specific gifts.
  • Privacy and respect: Ensure the privacy and dignity of participating families are maintained.
  • Donor guidance: Provide sponsors with guidelines on the types of gifts or support appreciated.

22. End-of-year giving campaign

A special campaign to encourage donations as the year concludes can capitalize on the season of giving.

  • Campaign theme: Create a compelling theme that resonates with the spirit of the season.
  • Promotional strategy: Use email marketing, social media, and local media to promote the campaign.
  • Incentives: Offer recognition or small tokens of appreciation to donors.
  • Impact stories: Share stories of how the donations will be used to encourage contributions.

23. Community holiday parade

A festive parade can bring the community together and offer various fundraising opportunities.

  • Planning and permits: Coordinate with local authorities for route planning and necessary permits.
  • Participation: Encourage local businesses, schools, and organizations to participate with floats or marching bands.
  • Sponsorships: Seek sponsorships from local businesses to cover costs and raise additional funds.
  • Vendor opportunities: Allow vendors to sell food and merchandise along the route, with a portion of sales donated to your cause.

Each of these holiday fundraising ideas presents an opportunity to engage your community, celebrate the season’s spirit, and support your cause. With thoughtful planning and enthusiastic participation, these initiatives can significantly contribute to your end-of-year fundraising success. Feel free to adapt these ideas to fit your unique organization and community. 

Encouraging last-minute charitable contributions

As the year draws to a close, it’s an opportune time to remind your community about the benefits of making last-minute charitable donations. These contributions not only support worthwhile causes but can also offer tax advantages.

  • Tax deduction awareness: Educate your supporters about the tax deductions available for charitable donations made before the year’s end.
  • Easy donation options: Facilitate these contributions by setting up simple online donation platforms or organizing quick fundraising events.
  • Communication: Send out reminders via email and social media, highlighting the dual benefit of supporting a good cause and receiving a tax deduction.

Wrapping up the year with impact

Close up of a group of people putting their hands
								together in a circle

As we reflect on these diverse holiday fundraising ideas, it’s evident how each one has the power to unite communities and create a meaningful impact. From the warmth of a hot cocoa stand to the excitement of a festive raffle, each idea offers a unique way to engage people and spread the holiday spirit.

These concepts are more than just fundraising mechanisms; they are a testament to the power of creativity, collaboration, and community spirit. We encourage you to use these ideas as inspiration for your unique events, adapting and expanding them to fit your community’s needs and preferences.

The holiday season is a time of togetherness, and by integrating these fundraising activities into your year-end plans, you’re not only raising funds but also strengthening the bonds within your community. Let’s embrace this season of giving with enthusiasm and purpose, creating lasting memories and impactful change.

Let Silent Auction Pro be your partner in holiday fundraising

As you embark on your holiday fundraising journey, remember that Silent Auction Pro is here to support you every step of the way. Our platform is designed to simplify the process, allowing you to focus on what matters most – making a difference.

We invite you to explore Silent Auction Pro for more resources, ideas, and tools to enhance your fundraising efforts. Whether planning a silent auction, a festive gala, or a community parade, our platform offers the solutions you need to bring your holiday fundraising ideas to life easily and efficiently.

Visit Silent Auction Pro and request a demo today, and let’s work together to end the year on a high note, filled with successful fundraising and heartwarming community engagement.

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Jim Donnell   |   President and Founder   |   Florida

24 years ago, Jim joined the Kiwanis Club of Tahoe City to help give back and meet people. Through his work with Kiwanis, Jim developed Silent Auction Pro to make nonprofit auctions and events easier, and more automated. For the last 24 years, Jim has been at the forefront of event management and auction software development. He has helped customers collectively raise over $1.3 million dollars for their charities and nonprofit organizations.

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