4 Creative Ways to Support Your Favorite Charity During this Holiday Season

Dec 21, 2022

Supporting a good cause can be as easy as making a quick donation online or getting together with a few friends to volunteer. However, there are many more ways dedicated supporters can help the causes that mean the most to them, particularly during the holidays.

Many nonprofits offer supporters a variety of ways to get involved, including a few outside-the-box ideas that might appeal to donors looking for something new. To inspire your next creative charitable venture, this article will explore four new ways you can support your favorite cause:

  1. Start a giving circle
  2. Buy merchandise
  3. Participate in a shopping fundraiser
  4. Make an in-kind donation

We recommend working with nonprofits you want to champion to find what type of support they’re most in need of and how you can help. If any of the above are a good fit, here are all the details.

1. Start a giving circle

Giving back is a social activity, and you can make a greater impact by working alongside others to support a cause you all care about. Forming a group also ensures everyone is committed to the cause and can serve as a reminder to continue giving throughout the year.

One popular method for giving alongside friends is to form a giving circle, a group of people who all contribute to a nonprofit together. Forming a giving circle is simple, fun to launch as part of your holiday gatherings, and can be done in just a few steps:

  1. Form a group. A giving circle can be as big or small as you want. Partner with friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, or anyone else you would like to work with to make an impact. Consider turning part of a holiday gathering you are planning with any of these groups into your first giving circle meeting for a festive start!
  2. Determine your giving circle’s structure. Giving circles ultimately have two components: everyone gives a certain amount and the group chooses a nonprofit to give that amount to. When forming your giving circle, discuss with members what you want this process to look like. Lay out how much each member is expected to give, when they need to contribute that amount by, and how causes to donate to will be selected.
  3. Give and repeat. Once your giving circle is set up, your group can continue to give over and over to new causes. Make sure to regularly consult with members to ensure everyone is happy with the giving circle’s set-up and look for opportunities to add new members to expand your giving circle’s potential impact.

To start and manage a giving circle, you can use websites like Grapevine. Dedicated giving circle websites can help groups find good causes to give to, manage funds, and find other giving circles to join and learn from.

2. Buy merchandise

You can make a monetary contribution to your favorite nonprofit, help spread awareness about them, and earn a t-shirt, water bottle, sweater, or other item by buying branded merchandise.

Many nonprofits have merchandise available for purchase online that allow supporters to show off their dedication to the cause. These items are often relatively simple t-shirts, but some nonprofits also have more outside-the-box options, like pet clothes, jewelry, and items related to their cause. For instance, an animal shelter might sell handmade dog treats, branded frisbees, or greeting cards with pictures of their animals on them. These can also be great gift items during the holidays, with the added benefit of supporting an important cause!

For a truly unique experience, some nonprofits might even have opportunities for supporters to purchase limited edition merchandise. Some items are sold exclusively at an event or are seasonal items that can only be purchased during a certain time of year, such as ornaments, holiday-themed mugs, or winter clothing items. Stay up to date with your favorite nonprofit’s ongoing activities to make sure you can jump on these opportunities when they come up.

Then, after buying a t-shirt, sweater, hat, or other item, you can continue to support the nonprofit by wearing your apparel out in public. Routinely wearing a branded sweatshirt, adding a bumper sticker to your car, or posting photos of yourself with a branded mug all help promote the nonprofits you care about.

3. Participate in a shopping fundraiser

If you regularly shop online, you can give back to nonprofits as part of your every day routine with a shopping fundraiser. This can be particularly impactful during the lead up to the holiday season because most shoppers are buying more than their usual items. Shopping fundraisers work similar to affiliate marketing to help nonprofits earn revenue. Essentially, when you make a purchase through a shopping fundraising program’s app or browser extension, the retailer you’re buying from will donate a percentage of your sales total to your chosen nonprofit.

Shopping fundraisers allow you to help out your favorite nonprofit without making any significant deviations from your normal routine or holiday shopping plans. To get started, just follow these steps:

  • Join a shopping program. Research shopping programs to find one that is partnered with a variety of retailers you already shop at. For example, some organizations like Amazon have their own shopping fundraising program, whereas others like Walmart, PetCo, and Macys might all be partnered with a third-party program. If you’re planning on making any large purchases around the holidays, shopping programs can be particularly impactful.
  • Make purchases. After your program’s downloading the app or browser extension, make sure you’re always logged in when making purchases from retailers participating in your shopping program. If you’re planning on making any large purchases around the holidays, this is especially important as you want to make sure those purchases are benefitting your chosen cause.
  • Watch funds accumulate. Once you get started with a shopping program, you can continue to use it indefinitely to help support a good cause. Funds tend to be small and accumulate over time, so while your initial contributions may not seem like much, in a few months, you will be impressed at just how much you were able to give back.

Shopping fundraisers are also an easy way to give back if you’re on a budget. All contributions come from the retailers. This means you won’t need to spend any more than you usually do when making purchases, allowing you to essentially give back to nonprofits for free.

4. Make an in-kind donation

There are more ways to give to a nonprofit than just cash donations. For some donors, the most convenient way to support a nonprofit is to give away a few possessions they already have on hand through in-kind donations.

In most cases, in-kind donations are gifts of physical items. For example, for a nonprofit that provides free school supplies to families in need, a supporter could donate extra supplies they already have, like markers, scissors, notebooks, and other items.

Individuals with professional skills can also donate their time to a nonprofit, which would be considered another form of in-kind donation. For instance, a professional photographer could agree to host a photoshoot for free or at a reduced cost to take pictures for a nonprofit’s website.

One of the most effective ways to make a meaningful impact through in-kind donations is to partner with a business. If you have connections to a local business, consider asking them to help support a nonprofit by making an in-kind donation, such as providing items for an auction or donating old but still usable computers when they decide to upgrade.

Persuading a business to donate might seem challenging, but supporters have inspired their employers to sponsor nonprofit events, set up matching gift programs, organize volunteer days, and otherwise support their community. You can make a strong case for getting your employer involved in in-kind donations by putting them in touch with a nonprofit that has a mission that aligns with your employer’s own philanthropic goals and emphasizing the benefits that a partnership could bring, such as more engaged employees and a reputation boost.

There are a wide variety of fundraising methods out there that provide fun, fulfilling ways to give back. There’s no better time to get started than during this holiday season!

Author: Kevin Penney, CMO & Co-Founder of Bonfire

Kevin Penney has been working in digital media for over ten years. He’s the CMO and co-founder of Bonfire, an online platform that’s reinventing the way people create, sell and purchase custom apparel. He enjoys strategizing, working closely with his team, and hockey, exactly in that order.