Fundraising in winter: How to get attention & dollars for your community project after the holidays

Toward the end of each year, many Americans give more than thanks and gifts.

The six-or-so winter weeks between Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) and the start of the New Year is when one third of annual giving takes place

That’s great news, but it does beg the question: how do you fundraise in winter when the holiday rush is over? After all, even for the most committed winter fans, come January and February the cold and grey days inevitably start to drag on. How can people and organizations trying to better their communities still build enthusiasm and fundraise effectively once giving season is over, and it’s just plain old winter? (Or maybe for you it begs the question: “I started this project, but now I’m wondering if the timing is all wrong. Help!”)

At ioby, we love the holidays as much as the next eggnog enthusiast, but we also know that doing the good work of improving our neighborhoods is a timeless act: one that holds appeal in every season. It’s just a matter of weather-appropriate presentation.

But before we let you in on some of our favorite ideas for fundraising in the winter, we think it’s worth posting a few perennially good guidelines from this article we wrote awhile ago about grassroots fundraising.

Fundraising in winter

Pictured: ioby Project Paint Memphis

3 of ioby’s best tips for all-season fundraising

    • Build a team. In our experience, teams raise money six times faster than individuals. So try to find at least three other awesome people to partner with!
    • Set a reasonable goal. If you use ioby as your crowdfunding platform, our fundraising experts will help you determine how much you should try to raise to get your project off the ground. Remember that the less you ask for, the more likely you’ll be to raise it!
    • Get specific. Instead of asking for funding to build a community garden, spell out that you need $300 for a tool shed, $100 for soil, and $75 for a wheelbarrow. Potential donors love knowing exactly where their money’s going. Same goes for setting a specific deadline (this can also help to keep you and your team on track!).

A word about community crowdfunding

You might be wondering why, a few hundred words into this article about fundraising in winter time, you haven’t yet seen the phrases “pizza party,” “polar plunge,” or “chili cook-off.” That’s because fundraising with ioby is a little different than these traditional models (in fact, we actually call what we help people do “crowd-resourcing”). Naturally, we want ioby Leaders to succeed in raising the funds they need to achieve their goals, and if they do that by hosting a bangin’ bake sale, good on them! But one of the top reasons we love crowdfunding for community projects is that when donors give, they’re investing more than money.

Crowdfunding the ioby way invites dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and a sense of joint responsibility for a project’s success. Unlike the bake sale model, it’s not a one-for-one, give-to-get trade where the attraction is an essentially unrelated event. The flow of crowd-resourcing dictates that donors give directly to the change they want to see. Cutting out the middleman promotes transparency, strengthens the bond between leaders and participants, and keeps everyone’s eyes on the prize: a better neighborhood for all.

Getting psyched? Good! Now, here’s what you came here for in the first place:

3 of ioby’s favorite ideas for fundraising in winter

Fundraising in winter

ioby Project I LOVE Soulsville Rock/Art Project

Secure in-kind donations now for warm-weather activities to come

If you’re stumped about how to drum up enthusiasm for a springtime community garden groundbreaking or a summertime party in the park, don’t give in to temptation and shelve your idea for three more months! Fundraising in winter helps set the stage for implementation in warmer climes, and in-kind donations can play a major role in your fundraising strategy.  In fact many business and other sources of in-kind donations appreciate the chance to plan in advance—before the inevitable spring rush. Whether you need paint, chalk, and porta potties or wheelbarrows, lumber, and seeds (or anything else), winter is a great time to reach out to craft supply stores, hardware retailers, or whoever it is that stocks what you gotta get.

Fundraising in winter

Pictured: ioby Project Arapahoe Street Protected Bike Lane

Cozy up to communication

When Aylene McCallum and her team raised oodles of cash from fellow Denverites to bring a protected bike lane to their city, one of the main tools in their arsenal was the good old fashioned personal phone call. Winter is a great time to catch people at home when warmer weather might otherwise lure them outdoors, so brush up on your talking points and get dialing!

Lee Forbes-Belue led the charge to revitalize a beloved Memphis playground that had fallen into disrepair. While she and her project partners deployed a range of fundraising tactics to reach their goal (as most successful leaders do), they found one of their main draws was the “very personal and heartfelt” Facebook post Lee wrote about what the playground meant to her and her family. Take advantage of the universal desire to curl up with some good reading material when it’s cold outside, and craft the irresistible story of your project for potential donors.

Fundraising in winter

Pictured: ioby Memphis

We saved the best for last—beer!

You don’t even have to enjoy the sudsy stuff to love the idea of gathering with your neighbors in a nice warm pub for an afternoon or evening of camaraderie, hearty food and drink, and inspiring discussions about positive change in the works. John Bailey of the Saint Paul Tool Library and Tim Kovach of The Cleveland Refugee Bike Project each held fundraising events for their projects at local breweries, and both reported that the congenial atmosphere of the get-togethers did a lot to encourage donations, as did the fact that people could give right then and there—no time for the “ask” to sink to the bottom of the inbox or get mixed in with the junk mail. Holding events like this is also a great way to get press for your project—it’s pretty easy to spread the word about beer-based affairs!

One more pitch for fundraising in winter time

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already committed to a great idea and are looking for ways to fund it during wintertime. Woo hoo! But in case you’re on the hunt for cold weather project inspiration, we’ve got just the guide for you.

In The Cold lays out five terrific neighborhood projects any community can do when the days are short and the temps are low. If any of them light a fire under you to do something great in your community, let us know! We’d love to help you make it happen—any time of year.