International Women’s Day is March 8th, every year. The month of Ramadan began April 12, 2021. Also in 2021, Passover began on the evening of March 27. (It lasts eight days.)
What do these holidays have in common? Someone found a way to raise funds by celebrating these holidays with the people who observe them.
Three Ways to Celebrate Holidays with Donors
Mary’s Pence invests in women across the Americas. On International Women’s Day, my wife, Rona, got an appeal letter from Mary’s Pence. They knew she is a feminist and she is engaged in interfaith work. It was a reasonably good guess that she might be approachable on International Women’s Day.
Timing is not everything. The letter made much too much of the organization and its programs, too little of the women it helps (and their stories), and almost nothing of the donor herself. It’s all “I” and “we” and hardly any “you.” But by inviting her to celebrate, at least they got her to read the letter!
UNRWA USA sent Rona a card wishing her Ramadan Kareem: literally, a month of Ramadan that treats her generously. They tied that feeling of generosity and abundance to this appeal:
For just $50, you can fill a pantry for a refugee family living under the poverty line in Gaza with a month’s supply of food assistance.
If Rona were Muslim, the chance to give a month’s supply of food during the month of Ramadan might have been an irresistible offer. UNRWA also tied it in to the religious duty of Zakat, or almsgiving. As a Daughter of Abraham, she was impressed, too.
HIAS works around the world to protect refugees who have been forced to flee their homelands because of who they are, including ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. Its origins are Jewish: it was originally called the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
This Passover, HIAS sent Rona and me a holiday reading playing on the biblical phrase “Open for me the gates of righteousness.” We could incorporate it into our seder, or we could download the HIAS Haggadah and celebrate our holiday using that as our main text.
HIAS’ mailing was a “soft ask.” It gave us the opportunity to give without pushing for it at the moment. It was part of a longer-term strategy of relationship-building, where they gave us something meaningful so that we would feel more connected with the organization…and more ready to donate when they did ask.
How Do You Know When to Celebrate?
To make your messages hit home with donors, you need to know who they are, and which holidays especially matter to them. By recording this information in your CRM, you can segment your list and send the holiday greetings that they will welcome.
Some cultures celebrate their holidays on their own calendars, so for people who use the Gregorian calendar (January-December), the dates will appear to change. Not for the people in those cultures, though! Eid al-Fitr is always at the end of Ramadan, and Rosh Hashanah is always the first day of the month of Tishrei. Losar is always the first day of the new year on the Tibetan calendar.
Many secular calendars are starting to include these dates, but it would be a good idea for you to look up days that your constituents celebrate and put them in your schedule, too. Here’s a head start for you on the Jewish holiday calendar for 5782 (2021-22).