This morning, someone woke up early even though they didn’t have to. They got dressed, grabbed a cup of coffee, and were in their car before the sun came out. They smiled, they laughed, they sympathized, they passed out food at their local shelter like they do every Friday. Today, they truly connected with people in their community who needed a little help.

Every day, millions of volunteers wake up early and stay up late for a larger cause, a mission made possible because of the nonprofit sector. On National Nonprofit Day, we recognize the impact that charitable organizations have on our local and world-wide communities. 

What is National Nonprofit Day?

National Nonprofit Day, recognized in America on August 17, raises awareness of charitable contributions from nonprofit groups across the world.

The awareness day followed the 1894 Tariff Act that introduced the first federal tax exemptions for nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, National Nonprofit Day has continued to be a day to recognize and celebrate nonprofit volunteers, employees, and philanthropists in any form. 

5 Ways to Celebrate National Nonprofit Day

1. Talk about your cause on social media

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Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Perhaps you do this often already, but on National Nonprofit Day, why not boost your social media volume and spend some time raising extra awareness about a cause you care about—or, if you’re part of a nonprofit, the cause you serve. 

The goal? Educate and help teach people why they should make a small donation or get involved today.

One idea to get you started: For one week (each day leading up to August 17) share infographics, interesting facts, or testimonials about your cause using the hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay

This is also a great time to find new accounts to follow and share. Individuals and nonprofits alike can follow and share content from their favorite charitable organizations or other voices championing their cause. You’ll be helping to keep the conversation kindled, and elevating your community’s voice all the while.

2. Create or host an online fundraiser

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Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

Leading up to August 17, nonprofits can make plans to host online fundraisers (consider GoFundMe or Classy) and set goals where you plan to raise a certain amount of money over the month of August, or by August 17. You can even do a one-day online fundraiser and get people excited by challenging them to help you raise more in one day than you do any other time of year, using social media or even YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram livestreams to keep people jazzed. 

As for the rest of us? Start your own fundraisers online using your favorite fundraising service, or just email or call your favorite charities to see if there’s something they already have in place that you can use.

3. Volunteer…from anywhere!

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Photo by ray sangga kusuma on Unsplash

Nonprofits: What do you need help with? In the days and weeks leading up to National Nonprofit Day, make it known. Even better? Consider those who want to volunteer, but who may not be able to put their boots on the ground today. There’s so much they can help with, from virtual assistant support like ordering supplies or clerical work, to writing social media posts for you or doing some light graphic design.

Are you someone who wants to help? Services like Volunteer Match can help you find volunteer opportunities both within your local community and online. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, just email the nonprofit you want to help. If you can’t get there in-person, let them know what you’re able to help with, your skills, and when you’re available.

You might also consider: 

  • Sending letters of encouragement to residents in the hospital or nursing homes
  • Crocheting, knitting or sewing blankets, mittens, socks and other homemade goods for donation
  • Donating extra coats, boots, and clothes to organizations in need. Many charities will arrange for home pick-up or convenient drop-offs
  • Animal shelters always need food, toys, and other care items to be donated 
  • Charitable shopping – shop, earn cash back and then donate your money

4. Tell your story 

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Both nonprofits and everyday people have stories to tell, and National Nonprofit Day is the perfect day to get those stories out there in order to help others see just how important nonprofits are.

Leading up to the day, nonprofits can spend a little time connecting with their communities to look for stories they can tell about the people they’ve served. (The family who adopted that pet your rescue saved might have a story that will convince others to adopt or support your nonprofit, too.)

More importantly, if you’ve been touched by the support of a nonprofit, sing it from the rooftops. National Nonprofit Day is all about celebrating and acknowledging the importance of these organizations in America: your story could encourage others to appreciate their work, and perhaps even inspire them to do a little more good themselves.

5. Donate…and say “Thanks!”

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Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash

Giving and gratitude go hand-in-hand, and National Nonprofit Day is a great day to show how true that is. While everyday citizens can raise extra donations and spend time thanking nonprofits for the ways in which they’ve helped them or those they love, nonprofits can spend the day taking extra steps to showcase and thank their donors and volunteers.

Tip! Before you donate to a nonprofit, consider looking them up on Charity Navigator. It’s a nonprofit search engine (and a nonprofit as well!) that “grades” 501(c)(3) organizations on a number of factors in order to help donors feel more confident that the nonprofit they’re giving to is using those gifts fairly and ethically. Oh, and nonprofits? Look yourself up as well to make sure everything looks good on your end.

Fun fact, nonprofits: Did you know nonprofits raise more and gain more repeat donations when they say “thanks”?

National Nonprofit Day is a great way to pull out all the stops. One idea: Plan ahead to use your social media or email lists to showcase the work of specific volunteers who have helped you out this year. 

If you haven’t yet, you can also dedicate this time to preparing a special impact report—or even just  a simple, shareable infographic—to show your donors exactly what they’ve done for you this year: How many animals did their donations save? What about trees planted, families fed, or scholarships awarded? 

National Nonprofit Day: An Awareness Day for All

National Nonprofit Day is an awareness day anyone can recognize, no matter the cause you support—or the cause your nonprofit serves! All you have to do? 

Give back, and say thanks. 

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