Local Giving Guides: Are you missing out on this holiday fundraising opportunity?

“Tis the season for giving.”

Nonprofit organizations count on this old adage to hold true during the holidays as busy people wrap-up their year-end charitable giving. Indeed, the holiday season provides an opportunity for mission-driven organizations to capitalize on the inherently philanthropic, feel-good nature that defines this festive time of year through a local giving guide.

Here in the Portland-metro area, a popular weekly publication and news website called the Willamette Week taps into the spirit of giving by publishing an annual Give Guide that showcases local nonprofits and facilitates donations and volunteerism among the selected groups. This guide goes out as in insert in the paper’s holiday issue, is promoted digitally and has an engaging website that facilitates donations. The 150 local nonprofits chosen each year receive guide resources to use as content for their email updates, newsletters, social media post, etc. The Give Guide has a special mission to engage those 35 and under in charitable giving and has raised over 24 million for local non-profits to date.

If you are one of the lucky organizations, you already have a non-profit giving guide in your area. If you aren’t aware of any such guide locally, double check online with local publications just in case. Also, take a minute to browse community news websites and pick up a few local papers at the coffee shop. Be sure to check out niche and alternative news sources as these types of publications can have a huge reach. Check out websites that provide information on charities and empowers the public to give, such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator. While you’re there, make sure that your organization has up-to-date profiles on these sites.

You might check with small business associations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, and ask about gift guides that feature local businesses. Local news outlets also tend to publish gift guides around the holidays, especially online. It is the digital age after all, and the internet provides an opportunity for gift guides at every turn. While these sorts of gift guides aren’t going to be dedicated to non-profit organizations, who’s to say the publisher of the guide couldn’t carve out a little space for your non-profit? It is certainly worth asking.

If your community doesn’t have any charitable giving guides, perhaps there is an opportunity to start one.

Yes, it will require time spent building relationships with other local nonprofits, but these are good relationships to have. And yes, it may seem counter-intuitive to invest time on a project that supports many organizations (instead of just one – your own). However, I’d argue that if done well, a community giving guide falls into the “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” category. It raises the visibility of year-end giving campaigns and reminds people to make those donations. Furthermore, a donation in someone’s name to a special organization can make a lovely Christmas gift, especially for those-who-have-everything types. But people don’t always think of this as an option.

Our job as fundraisers is to remind people to give and what better way than a charitable giving guide. Some towns and cities already have this covered and for the organizations in these communities, it is almost certainly worth the effort to be included. If there are no giving guides in your area, think about teaming up with others in the community to put something together. You never know what good may come in the spirit of the season.

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