10 giving season ideas for your company to give back this giving season

Amy Woodward October 27, 2021

Nearly a third of all charitable giving occurs in December, with the last three days of the year taking 12% of total annual donations. It’s a huge opportunity for fundraising and charitable donations, and a prime time for organizations to focus on their CSR initiatives.

The giving season is an essential part of a nonprofits’ or organizations’ fundraising calendar. That’s not to say that charitable endeavors should be shelved until this time of the year, it’s just a great time to encourage employees and customers alike to engage with charitable initiatives.

Now, you may be wondering what exactly we mean by the giving season. Let’s dive in.

What is the giving season?

​​The giving season refers to the months leading up to the end of the year in which charities and nonprofits tend to receive more interest and donations. It’s a fairly flexible period, as we heard from Andy Frain, the Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager at Charities Aid Foundation.

Here’s what Andy had to say about the giving season when speaking at Alaya’s webinar on Getting ready for year-end giving season campaigns.

“If we’re being honest, it’s not fixed, it’s a loose term to refer to the period roughly between November and January every year. It’s where basically we’ve got a whole load of tentpole celebratory days and festivals from a whole bunch of different communities.”

Tentpole celebratory days are any days your customer or prospective customers identify with and rally around in some sort of way. It’s the ideal time for fundraising activities because people are already in the giving mindset due to a shared sense of community and giving back.

Andy then highlighted the importance of religious holidays—like Hannukha, Diwali, and Christmas among many others—and secular days—like Remembrance Sunday and Thanksgiving—in the giving season.

Another key point highlighted by Andy was the importance of Giving Tuesday in the giving season. It’s the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday that aims to encourage people to give after a weekend of spending on offers and deals. This year sees Giving Tuesday fall on November 30th.

How can companies get involved?

In its simplest form, participating in the giving season can look like payroll giving, fundraising, and volunteering. This simple way of giving back is popular year-round with organizations, and the giving season is hardly expected to be an exception. 

“When we talk about the giving season it becomes a really important part of any fundraising or giving calendar. It’s about working out what your strategy is to make the most of that. I’m not suggesting you piggyback your campaign off every single day that you can find; I imagine that’ll spread you really, really thin and make you look a bit insincere.”


Andy made some really great points about viability and sincerity, but it begs the question—what can companies do to make the most of the giving season?

“What it does do is give you the chance to create common themes and common threads and it means that you can use all of these really important days across the end of the year as a springboard for your own campaigning.”

Preparations for the giving season begin well in advance to ensure organizations are ready for the ‘springboard moment’:

“It’s all about developing a consistent theme and message and making sure you can get eyeballs on whatever your campaign might be. Giving Tuesday is born out of this; if you think about it, it’s directly related to thanksgiving and Christmas and a whole load of people use it as a springboard for their campaigns.”

It seems like preparation is the key to a successful giving season—but what exactly does that look like? 

We turned to Jerome Tennille, Manager of Social Impact and Volunteerism at Marriott International, and Michael Duncan, Head of Giving Strategy and Programs at NatWest, for thoughts on preparing for fundraisers and how it’s helped them get involved in the past.

Examples of companies getting involved

During the webinar, we heard how Marriott International and NatWest have mobilized their giving strategies throughout the giving season and what they’ve learned from it. 

Marriott International and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital

In Jerome’s experience, the most successful campaigns during the giving season are those that began preparations many months before the season started. They’re well planned and well equipped, with resources like toolkits and guidelines to ensure swift and smooth execution when the time comes. 

Here’s what they had to say about how this has helped in previous campaigns around the giving season:

“One of our strategic partners that’s based in the US and Canada is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and they actually plan many of their fundraisers 6-9 months in advance. So, as a company, we’re actually able to look at a schedule and we know what we can anticipate from this strategic partner nine months in advance.”

This preparation ensures that everyone’s on the same page when it’s time to launch the campaign, with all materials and resources ready for deployment. Jerome summed up the importance of solid preparation for fundraisers by highlighting the aim of these efforts:

“It’s about reducing the number of steps that are needed to be taken by those who want to support.”

Templates, one-pagers, landing pages, QR codes—they all facilitate charitable donations, especially during the giving season.

This planning and preparation have enabled joint fundraisers and campaigns since 1983, through which Marriottt and CMN Hospitals have worked together to raise over $138million through a number of exciting initiatives, such as:

  • Breakfast campaign: a 90-day period in which breakfast was $1 more expensive, with that dollar going towards supporting CMN Hospitals
  • Bonvoy point donation: customers were given the opportunity to convert reward points into cash to donate to the local partner hospital

‘Hotel stays for the holidays’: in which patients of CMN Hospitals and their families were invited for a holiday experience to remember

1. Use your voice

This initiative is part one of NatWest’s multi-faceted approach to this year’s giving season. The campaign pushes employees to act charitably using their voice, time, and money. First up, voice.

NatWest encourages colleagues to share their charitable endeavors and achievements in order to inspire others to do the same. Human nature is such that the opportunity of a humble brag is too irresistible to pass up, and encourages colleagues to share their charitable efforts online for others to engage with.

On the other side of this coin, NatWest gives nonprofits—both big and small—a platform on which to be heard. They use their social channels to champion charities and nonprofits by providing them with space to communicate.

2. Skills-based corporate volunteering

The second great giving season idea from NatWest revolves around time. Colleagues are encouraged and empowered to volunteer three days a year—supported by volunteer time off

Organizations are in an ideal position to offer skills-based support and workshops to a wide variety of nonprofits and communities. Understandably, one of NatWest’s key volunteering programs is MoneySense which focuses on helping young people become financially capable. Volunteers from NatWest give workshops in schools on financial literacy with the aim of ensuring children learn key skills for adulthood.

Although they mainly do this in schools, the initiative can be applied in many other circumstances.

The last of NatWest’s ideas for giving season is to encourage colleagues to give. They do this using their payroll giving scheme by giving a “boost” payment to any colleague who increases their salary deduction or signs up for the first time that they can then donate to a charity of their choice. This is especially effective during the giving season due to the general spirit of community and giving felt at this time of year.

Donation matching, in general, is an effective way of boosting donations to a cause and it definitely doesn’t require a payroll giving scheme. 

3. Donation matching for employees

The last of NatWest’s ideas for giving season is to encourage colleagues to give. They do this using their payroll giving scheme by giving a “boost” payment to any colleague who increases their salary deduction or signs up for the first time that they can then donate to a charity of their choice. This is especially effective during the giving season due to the general spirit of community and giving felt at this time of year.

Donation matching, in general, is an effective way of boosting donations to a cause and it definitely doesn’t require a payroll giving scheme. 

4. Rewards conversion for customers

NatWest also encourages donations by inviting customers to convert their rewards into charitable donations. This allows people to get involved in different ways, and you don’t need a rewards program to get started. For example, instead of vouchers for money off, you could provide customers with vouchers for charitable donations.

This is a great way to get customers involved in your giving season without getting them to directly donate. You can encourage that too though

5. Digital food bank donations

Marriott International’s upcoming giving season is set to focus its efforts in Washington DC, one of the company’s largest markets and just miles from their global headquarters. They’ll be collecting food donations for a local partner of theirs, Capital Area Food Bank.

This is a great example of what Jerome highlighted previously: it’s about reducing the number of steps needed to be taken by those looking to support. It’s a low-friction activity.

6.Set up a donation point

Another great giving season idea is to organize a giving point in your organization. Here, employees can come and choose from a list of gifts selected by a local nonprofit. They then purchase this gift and bring it in to be sent to the chosen organization.

These charities are typically children’s charities, but you can apply this initiative to many different organizations. Discuss with partnered nonprofits and local communities to see what their communities need this giving season.


7. Host an auction

The giving season just so happens to fall during the office party season. Whatever office celebrations you’ve got planned, you can always incorporate an auction to raise funds for your chosen nonprofit. Here are some great ideas for what to auction off:

  • A holiday’s goodie basket or hamper
  • A weekend away
  • Event tickets
  • Local experiences

There are a plethora of things you could offer employees, but keeping it holiday-themed is what will keep them in the giving spirit. 

8. Donate warm clothes

Depending on where you are in the world, the giving season can be the start of a very cold couple of months. For people without homes, it can be a very difficult time. 

There are two ways in which you can support people without homes in your local community:

  1. Encourage employees to donate warm clothing: to the local homeless shelter. This is the most direct way of helping keep people warm during the holiday season.
  2. Spread the word on social media: so others can take inspiration. It’s a way to use your platform and its influence to spread the word and inspire others to take action.

9. Organize a holiday-themed fundraiser

This can be organized by the organization, but it’s a lot more impactful coming from employees. Plus, organizations can support employees in their efforts. 

A fundraiser is a great way to raise money during a set period of time, and it’s an especially great giving season idea. Whether it’s a fancy dress fun run or a holiday-themed bake sale, there are plenty of opportunities to get everyone involved during the giving season.

10. Send a percentage of profits to a charity of choice

Kick off the giving season by introducing a limited offer on your product or service. You can manage this however you choose, but essentially you’re looking to inform customers that you’ll be sending a percentage of your profits during this period to a chosen nonprofit. 

For example, let’s say you sell wooden furniture. During the giving season, you could agree with a local nonprofit to donate 10% from every wooden table sold during the month of December. 

Make sure to specify the time constraints on this initiative and ensure that it’s logistically possible for you to do. 

Wrapping Up

Andy Frain’s closing words of wisdom were as follows:

“There is no one way to go about the giving season, it’s just about working out what campaign can you guys manage yourselves.”

As always, it’s up to you what giving season ideas work for your organization. There are plenty of opportunities to give back for companies big and small, so, to quote Andy again, “be flexible and don’t be afraid to change plans if you see something isn’t working”

Your organization is able to make a difference, so let’s get started. To experience how Alaya can help you enable and empower your employees to give, get in touch to request a demo.

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