A Nonprofit's Guide to the Holidays [2023]

November 13, 2023 | By Sam Pelton
Woman at soup kitchen during Christmastime

The holidays and nonprofits go hand in hand.

Why? Because the holidays are special times when people are particularly prone to think about family and friends and kindness and church and generosity.

For example, by some reports 30% of annual giving happens in December. Whether we should be more generous and considerate throughout the year is a different question—but we all know experientially, even without the stats, that the holidays remind us to take a step back and look beyond ourselves.

Nonprofits do well to acknowledge this reality and use the opportunities that the holidays provide to help advance the mission of their organization. Depending on what type of nonprofit you have, this could mean encouraging people to participate in what you offer or volunteer to help out. And for almost all nonprofits it could also include encouraging people to donate to help keep your efforts funded.

So what can you do during the holidays to make sure you’re grabbing hold of every opportunity to connect with people? This guide will walk you through a few ideas.

Use SMS Strategically

"Use SMS strategically" graphic

SMS is a strategic tool that is underutilized in the nonprofit community.

Many nonprofits rely solely on emails, social posts, phone calls, and/or mailings to engage with donors, volunteers, and people who benefit from their services.

But SMS is the most effective way to really reach people. By some reports SMS has a read rate of up to 98%.

What better way to connect with people than directly on their personal phones?

So the question is… are you taking full advantage of SMS as a way to connect with people for your nonprofit?

How Nonprofits Use SMS

Nonprofit SMS Examples

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Here are some ways that nonprofits can use SMS during the holidays.

Announcements and Reminders

Just a reminder that our Christmas Concert is this Saturday at 7pm! Admission is free and there will be a goodwill donation at intermission to raise funds for the church. Hope to see you there!

Use SMS to announce your holiday events and activities, and to remind people to participate in them.

Volunteer Recruitment and Coordination

Volunteers needed for bell ringing at Walmart! Check out the needs here: [link]

Use SMS to help recruit people to volunteer for holiday events, and to coordinate volunteers for those events.


Notice: free book available for anyone who gives a donation of $50 or more by Dec. 31st! See the details here: [link]

Use SMS to (tactfully) ask for donations from those who have an interest in your nonprofit.

Nonprofit Holiday Checklist

Nonprofit holiday checklist

In addition to taking full advantage of SMS, here are 5 checklist items nonprofits can consider implementing during the holiday season.

Engage in Supporter Appreciation Initiatives

Your nonprofit may do a good job of giving to and helping those who benefit from your services.

But what about your supporters and donors?

The holidays are a fantastic time to engage in supporter appreciation initiatives. This could include:

  • Hand-written notes of appreciation
  • Donor appreciation events
  • Appreciation callouts on social media

Make sure your supporters know you appreciate them and the impact they make.

Consider Collaborations

During the holidays, businesses and other nonprofits may be willing to partner up. This can help you have the most impact—by combining resources.

Consider whether there are any businesses and organizations that align with your values and may be interested in collaborating to put on an event or create a resource that will benefit your community.

Remember All the Pertinent Dates

The holidays encompass more than just the Christmas season.

In other words, Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t just for businesses. Nonprofits can take advantage of these dates (and others such as Thanksgiving and the First Day of Winter) as an opportunity to connect with your audience—you can put on events, offer some type of discount on products or services (if you sell products or services), or put out a helpful resource.


We touched on this in the SMS section above, but the holidays typically present more volunteerism opportunities and needs.

Make sure you engage in enough recruitment initiatives to fill your volunteer needs over all of your holiday events.

Plan Your Communications

Make sure you have a careful plan for all of your communications, including SMS, mailings, emails, social media, and push notifications (if you have a mobile app). Alternatively, you can choose to use membership management software that offers everything in one place to manage your nonprofit effectively.

The more planning you can do, the more strategic you can be. And that way, you can take full advantage of all of these channels so that you can maximize the impact you’re able to have during the holiday season.

One Final Takeaway

The last takeaway is that you should really try to brainstorm creative ways to engage with people in this holiday season.

There are a million different opportunities provided by the holiday season and just because you’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. We challenge you to really think through your holiday plan this year and consider what should be changed, added, modified, or taken away.

If you implement all of these tips, then this holiday season will be set up to be the best one yet for your nonprofit!

Interested in ramping up your SMS efforts this holiday season? Try a free SMS platform account here.

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