I don’t want to dis on Valentine’s Day, but just a week later on February 23, it’s International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day. And if you can stand all the excitement, February 26 is National Pistachio Day in the US, and February 28 is Rare Disease Day USA.
I’m not telling you this in order to mock these awareness holidays. There are no doubt quality nonprofit organizations that use these days to raise funds and/or awareness for their issues. More power to ’em!
But if they try to use those celebrated-by-almost-nobody holidays as reasons for donors to give, they will almost surely fail.
Made-up “holidays” are almost never reasons people give.
In fact, if you’re saying, “Give to help kids get good dental care because this is Children’s Dental Health Month” — you have a non-starter on your hands. Same with Low Vision Awareness Month, Heart Month, and Scleroderma Awareness Month — also February.
On the other hand, fundraising based on “real” holidays is among the strongest fundraising on most of our calendars. The reason it’s powerful is that a few major holidays have deep emotional meaning for many people. Obscure awareness holidays don’t have that. They are just days for most people — no memories, no traditions, no connection to the heart.
In fact, even most “real” holidays have little to no emotional impact that might push donors toward giving. Even widely observed ones like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Even Valentine’s Day has only shallow emotional content for most donors!
That’s why these are not strong fundraising propositions for most organizations:
- “Show your love by giving on Valentine’s Day.”
- “Honor your mother by making a special gift on Mother’s Day.”
- “Stand with other patriotic Americans by giving on Flag Day.”
But most of all, you won’t do well with:
- “World Hunger Day is coming up, so you should give to fight hunger.”
- “Save the pistachios on National Pistachio Day!”
These lesser holidays are not harmful to fundraising. They just aren’t sufficient to move very many donors. If you do everything else right in your fundraising, the holiday connection won’t hurt.
The “real” holidays that have deep emotional associations for many people include:
- Christmas (or, more broadly “the Holidays”).
- The High Holy Days in the fall and Passover for many Jewish donors.
There are other holidays that have resonance for specific groups. Ramadan and other religious observations, days celebrating certain saints and founders of institutions.
And for some, Easter. That day is very powerful for many Christians. And because it coincides with Passover and generally marks the coming of Spring in the northern hemisphere, it can boost fundraising for many organizations.
But if you’re using a little-known holiday or awareness day as a reason itself for people to give … be ready for failure.
Fundraising is about connecting with people by the heart and giving them a way to take meaningful action. You can do that any day of the year.
To find out more about how to form a meaningful connection with your donors and transform your fundraising, check out my online masterclass, Irresistible Communications for Great Nonprofits.
Please share your experience raising funds on little-known holidays by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.