Every day, millions of nonprofit staff and volunteers wake up early and stay up late for a larger cause, dedicated to contributing to a greater good. On August 17, National Nonprofit Day allows us to recognize charitable organizations’ impact on our local and worldwide communities. The day also celebrates the contributions of people who donate their time, services, and funds towards helping nonprofits accomplish their goals.
National Nonprofit Day is an awareness day anyone can recognize, no matter the cause you support or the cause your nonprofit serves. You can celebrate in many ways, from volunteering at a homeless shelter to donating to your favorite nonprofit.
Below we’re sharing 13 meaningful ways to celebrate National Nonprofit Day for volunteers and nonprofits:
What is National Nonprofit Day?
National Nonprofit Day, founded by Sherita J. Herling, commemorates the 1894 Tariff Act, which became law on August 17, 1894. This Act 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.
National Nonprofit Day Ideas for Nonprofit Volunteers
You’re most likely here because you volunteer at a nonprofit, or you’ve always wanted to help but didn’t know where to start. Services like Volunteer Match can assist you in finding in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities that serve your local community. Seasoned supporters, there’s a lot you can do besides volunteer on National Nonprofit Day. We’ve gathered a few great ways to celebrate and make a difference on this special day.
1. Tell Your Story
National Nonprofit Day celebrates the organizations impacting our communities and the rest of the world and is also a day for highlighting people’s hard work behind the scenes, like you! Why do you volunteer, and how does it make you feel? People need to hear from people with boots on the ground that they can make a difference (even if it’s with a small dollar donation or a just a few hours of volunteer time).
A few items you can post on social media:
- Blog about a day (or a week) in the life of a volunteer
- Volunteering do’s and don’ts (think a YouTube video, Instagram story, or TikTok video)
- An engaging Q&A with a fellow volunteer or benefactor
More importantly, if the support of a nonprofit has touched your life, sing it from the rooftops! National Nonprofit Day is all about celebrating and acknowledging the importance of charitable organizations in America. Your story could encourage others to appreciate their work and perhaps even inspire them to do a little more good themselves.
2. Contribute Your Professional Skills to Help a Nonprofit
Let’s say you’re already volunteering your time for a good cause. Bravo! This National Nonprofit Day, you can dial up your volunteerism and explore pro bono work, which involves donating professional services that you’d typically charge for. Pro bono work is generally associated with lawyers. Still, it applies to every profession—from real estate agents (help a nonprofit find a new home) to graphic artists (design a T-shirt for an upcoming fundraiser).
Partner with your favorite nonprofit and share your expertise. In most cases, it can also benefit your business or employer to help a charity or nonprofit improve its visibility, expand its reach, or streamline its operations. Your actions may also encourage co-workers to support your cause or offer their services for free to a nonprofit they like as well.
3. Spread the Word on Social Media
You’re proud to volunteer and support a good cause, and you want to shout it out! National Nonprofit Day is one of the best opportunities to let people know about all of the exciting things your favorite organizations are doing to make a difference locally, nationally, and globally.
Don’t forget to use the appropriate hashtags for your posts (like #NationalNonprofitDay, #socialgood, and #charity, plus more specific ones, like #animalrescue for the ASPCA).
4. Create or Host an Online Fundraiser
People are more likely to give to nonprofits supported by their family and friends than those they encounter by chance. What better time than now to start your own fundraiser online and spread awareness for your favorite cause? Tip: Consider GoFundMe or Classy for help getting started.
You can also email or call your favorite charities to see if there’s something already in place that you can participate in (Charity Navigator is a good resource for learning about specific organizations, including a nonprofit’s newest and most prominent programs to support).
5. Sport Your Nonprofit Gear
Proudly wear that t-shirt, hat, or jacket featuring taglines and logos, or carry your branded reusable tote to work. All of these can call attention to the nonprofit you represent. Not only does it advertise the cause you support, but it also opens the door for you to strike up a conversation, share information, and explain the importance of National Nonprofit Day.
National Nonprofit Day Ideas for Nonprofit Admins
Giving and gratitude go hand in hand, and National Nonprofit Day is an excellent time for nonprofits to show how true that is. In addition to spreading awareness and expanding their reach, nonprofits can also spend the day taking extra steps to showcase and thank their donors and volunteers. A few ways that nonprofits can make the most of this day include:
1. Send Thank You Notes and Acknowledgment Letters
According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the average donor retention rate in 2020 was 43.6 percent. Leading causes of low donor retention rates include poor communication and a lack of recognition. Volunteers who do not see their impact or feel unappreciated are more likely to experience burnout and quit devoting their time to a nonprofit.
The Abila Donor Loyalty Study found that approximately 71 percent of donors feel more engaged when a nonprofit sends personalized content. That’s why we suggest that nonprofits prioritize donor and volunteer outreach and address contributions individually.
One of the simplest ways to acknowledge your volunteers and donors in a meaningful way is with a thank you note. Although email is the more efficient route, there’s nothing better than sending a handwritten message or letter when you want to leave a lasting impression. We also suggest calling your most active supporters.
Whichever method you choose, make sure to: express your gratitude, offer options for further engagement, and explain how donor gifts or volunteer time have impacted your mission.
By recognizing your volunteers and donors on a more personal level, you can forge long term relationships that can help your nonprofit crush its goals and make a more profound impact.
2. Use the Hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay
Adding #NationalNonprofitDay to your social media posts helps drive traffic to your accounts, increasing visibility and creating awareness for your organization’s cause. It’s the perfect time to introduce your mission, programs, and achievements to those unfamiliar with your nonprofit. Explain why they should get involved. Take time to interact with other nonprofits, too!
3. Participate in a Promotion or Partnership
People feel appreciated (and more willing to give back) when offered exclusive promo codes and offers for their efforts. Try teaming up with a brand (as seen with Anthropologie’s first yearlong philanthropic partnership with the nonprofit She’s the First) to organize promotions that introduce your nonprofit to a targeted audience, spread awareness, raise funds, and more.
That’s why Giving Assistant treats shoppers to limited-time cash back offers year-round, such as Double and Triple Cash Back Events. We want to make it easier for shoppers to earn extra as a way to celebrate National Nonprofit Day, and give back more to their favorite organizations.
4. Give Away Freebies
If you want to attract more visitors to join your email list or subscribe to your newsletter, promote your organization and drum up new interest with a freebie. Potential supporters can sign up to receive updates and correspondence from your nonprofit in exchange for a free product.
We like these ideas:
- Custom face masks with your logo
- Printable checklists and cheat sheets
- Digital materials (like e-books, planners, calendars, courses, etc.)
- Physical advertisements, such as tumblers, magnets, or car decals
Another idea: Host a giveaway to boost your social media presence.
The prospect of winning something for doing virtually nothing entices many, especially when all you have to do is follow a social media account, like a Facebook page, subscribe to emails, or share content online. Using branded gear and goodies as prizes go a long way and can help increase nonprofit recognition (think logo t-shirts, socks, coffee mugs, and key chains).
5. Create a Digital Donor Wall
No matter the size, every gift to your nonprofit deserves recognition. Every bit makes a difference, which is why a digital donor wall is a cost effective way to show your appreciation for every penny given to support your cause. You can incorporate a scrollable digital donor wall to your website’s homepage or dedicate a page that alphabetizes this year’s donor names.
6. Ramp Up Your Social Media Interactions
One way to boost your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook accounts (and blog) is to share how your organization is celebrating National Nonprofit Day. You can shine a light on what your nonprofit stands for, plus you get a chance to acknowledge the employees and volunteers who are behind the scenes helping your nonprofit to succeed.
- Go viral by creating a funny meme
- Highlight your achievements in song
- Prepare a special impact report
- Make an infographic with intriguing statistics
- Partner with a similar nonprofit to maximize views
Your objective is to post the most clickable content that people will like to share — and don’t forget to add the hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay to all posts!
7. Send a Newsletter that Creates an Emotional Connection
Whether it’s building schools in Ghana (like Pencils of Promise) or empowering the military community with their next steps after service (like Dog Tag Inc.), it’s crucial to create a powerful, emotional connection with supporters and let them know how their donations have helped achieve good things.
On National Nonprofit Day, send a newsletter or email thanking donors and share the following:
- Behind the scenes photos
- Before and after snapshots
- Thank you videos or quotes
- Statistics and meaningful facts
- Names and faces to the stories you tell
Tip: Don’t forget to share plans and thank them again for being a part of your mission.
8. Get a Head Start on Fall Fundraisers
Volunteers and donors will have their antennas up around National Nonprofit Day, so why not make the most of this heightened awareness by drawing attention to future fundraising goals and campaigns. Since the fall fundraising season is right around the corner, you can:
- Organize a soft launch
- Upload an announcement video
- Invite your audience to share their ideas
- Spread the word with quirky hashtags
- Post shareable infographics to prep your supporters (and gain a few new ones, too!)
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