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National Nonprofit Day 2024: 8 Purposeful Ways to Celebrate

National Nonprofit Day

National Nonprofit Day is August 17th, 2024.

Does your organization celebrate? If not, add it to your calendar now!  

National Nonprofit Day commemorates the passion that nonprofits have for making a difference in the world. It’s a great day to celebrate as well as remind people to continue supporting your mission.

In this article, we’ll look at the best ways nonprofits can engage their communities, celebrate the day and encourage more donations. We’ll cover the following:

What is National Nonprofit Day?

Before we look at how to celebrate it, let’s understand what it is. 

National Nonprofit Day was declared a national holiday on August 17, 2017. It is celebrated on this day because the Tariff Act that taxed corporations but excluded nonprofits was signed on the same day in 1894. 

It was promoted by Sherita J Herring, an author, speaker and business strategist, to recognize the impact of nonprofits on their communities and the world.

Why is it important for nonprofits to celebrate National Nonprofit Day?

Nonprofit organizations have a significant impact and deserve to be celebrated and acknowledged for the important part they play in tackling social, political and environmental issues all over the world. 

Celebrating this day is not only a chance for you to look back at your own nonprofit’s journey and celebrate your success but can also help raise awareness and gather interest in your mission. 

Here are a few reasons why it is important for nonprofits to celebrate: 

  • Spread awareness: National Nonprofit Day is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about your work and get new people interested in your mission. 
  • Get sponsorships: Reach out to local businesses and ask for sponsorships for an upcoming event or seek general support on this day. 
  • Inspire more donations: If you get your community involved, you can ask for year-round support for your work or inspire new people to pledge their support at your celebration or event. 

While you may already have big events planned or celebrate calendar days that are connected to your work, National Nonprofit Day is another important way to showcase your work to the wider community and garner more support.

How to engage your supporters on National Nonprofit Day

There are a number of ways you can engage existing donors, win new supporters and celebrate your work on the day.

1. Make it About Your Mission

August 17th is a great day to highlight your impact. Take this as an opportunity to broadcast what your team has accomplished and proudly display the incredible work you’ve done. Use the day to remind supporters of your mission and who you impact. 

You can create these mission moments in a number of ways – share a special update via email, on social media or use this holiday as an opportunity to send out a direct mail campaign. Regardless of the medium you choose, make sure your mission stands front and center. 

Let the day be about the lives you’re supporting. This will help more people connect with your cause and mission.

For example, Harmony Project, a nonprofit that provides free music education and social support to young people, put their mission front and center on social media on the day. They also thanked supporters and used the opportunity to ask for donations. 

2. Drive Traffic With The Hashtag #NationalNonprofitDay

Create posts with the hashtag on all your social channels to expand your reach, get new followers and drive traffic to your campaign page. 

Using hashtags will add your posts to the conversation around national nonprofit day and make your organization more visible. Aim for high engagement as posts with more activity (such as likes and comments), signals to the platform that your post is high quality – which pushes your content higher on newsfeeds. You want to get as much engagement as possible within the first 24 hours of posting as this is what will boost your posts organically to more people. 

Asking others to post on your behalf is also a great way to reach new audiences. WowWhiskers, an animal shelter, got their community involved and asked supporters to drive traffic to their page on the day. Captain Springfield, an X account for a cat, used the cat’s perspective to talk about its owner’s visit to the animal shelter and encouraged its followers to adopt.

Here are a few ways to get higher engagement rates on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X(Twitter) and TikTok: 

  • To stop people from scrolling past your post, use compelling imagery or videos. You could include a podcast clip, a quote or even a meme to get more reactions. A group photo of your whole team is also a great way to boost engagement. 
  • Ask questions at the end of your posts – or create a post that’s just a question. This will encourage people to add their opinions and thoughts and drive engagement up
  • Ask donors to leave a comment or testimonial with a few reasons why they support your organization – you can then respond with a link to your campaign page so that your donors’ followers will learn more about you. 
  • Feature people who are dedicated to your organization – they could be staff, volunteers, donors or community members and use this opportunity to recognize their work. This will help boost views as well as publicly acknowledge those who do a lot for your nonprofit. 
  • Don’t try to create too many posts, a few posts which are aimed at engaging your audience are much more useful if you’re looking to gain visibility. 
  • Make sure you include the other broader hashtags like #donate or #charity to expand your reach and join the more extensive conversation

You might also want to learn how to build relationships with Gen Z and Millenials on social media for a truly successful campaign. 

3. Start a Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding campaigns offer nonprofits a powerful way to rally supporters and community members, share their successes and fund program initiatives. You can launch a crowdfunding campaign in honor of the holiday to support a specific program, raise money to achieve a goal or ask donors to sponsor beneficiaries. You can even try to raise operational funds for your organization – since this is a day that celebrates your organization!

Lustgarten Foundation also used National Nonprofit Day to highlight their annual running event, Dash for Detection. Community members, volunteers and runners were crowdfunding to raise money for pancreatic cancer research.

National Nonprofit Day

A crowdfunding campaign will work best when you get everyone involved, so make sure you plan well in advance and use the day to rally support for your work. 

To take your campaign to the next level, make sure to:

  • Maintain a consistent style and voice on all campaign materials 
  • Clearly state what issue you’re addressing and how people can help. You could also share brief stories about your beneficiaries and why they’d benefit from a donor’s support.  
  • Showcase the tangible benefits of each donation – you can use custom donation amounts to show what each donation will get. This will help donors understand where their donation goes, who it benefits, and what it accomplishes.
  • Don’t forget to create compelling imagery around the campaign, shoot videos and use a good mix of images and text to get people’s attention

4. Use National Nonprofit Day as a Theme for Your Summer Event

Does your nonprofit already have a summer event? Whether it’s a capital campaign, a community fundraiser or something smaller – you can use this holiday as an event theme to get more people to participate. 

This is especially useful if you host the same event every year and it doesn’t have a theme – other than raising money for the organization. Event themes will help people understand why you’re doing this and give them something to be excited by. 

You can also reach more people by piggybacking on donors’ interest in giving while spreading the word to other community members.

5. Thank Donors With a Personalized Message

While you celebrate your achievements on this day – don’t forget to use this day as an opportunity to let donors know how much they’re valued and appreciated. Send a personalized thank you message to donors highlighting what you’ve achieved and thanking them for allowing you to get where you are today. Personalized communication will make donors feel like they are part of your journey. It also creates a touchpoint that humanizes your organization and helps develop stronger donor relationships.

You can consider sending a handwritten thank-you note to a few special donors in order to make it very personal and let them know you took time out of your day to write an intentional message. You could also ask your fundraising team leaders to personally thank donors via a phone call or write a great donor thank you email.  While you may not be able to do this for all your donors, select those that have made a particular impact, given you special gifts or been long-time contributors to your organization. 

Besides letters and phone calls, here are a few more creative ways to say thank you:

  • Newsletter shoutouts
  • Gratitude videos
  • Social media posts
  • Show appreciation on your website

Take a look at Michael J. Fox Foundation’s heartfelt gratitude video thanking donors and and supporters for their contributions on this day.

While thanking donors, don’t forget to include a link to support your organization on this day or ask donors to spread the word about your organization. 

6. Promote In-Person & Virtual Volunteer Opportunities

While you definitely want to encourage donations – don’t forget to highlight volunteering opportunities during the day as well. Not only will this help you recruit more volunteers, but working directly with your organization and seeing the value you bring might motivate your volunteers to become donors. You can also ask donors to come volunteer with your organization on the day – especially if you’re hosting a summer event. 

Tejano Center did just that – using the day to create an appeal asking for more volunteers, while highlighting the important community work that volunteers do for them. 

Think of creative experiences to get donors and volunteers involved. You can explore ideas like serving hot meals, handing out water at a charity run, painting schools or assisting at a fundraising event. You could even add online volunteering opportunities to expand your reach and enable people outside your location to support you on the day. You could  invite virtual volunteers to spread the word on social media or judge a live contest.

When you accept volunteers, make sure each one feels valued and appreciated and like they’re making a difference. Establishing a good rapport with volunteers could motivate them to return and volunteer for more events or support your organization financially. While you want to keep them engaged on the day, make sure you also think of the long-term opportunities. 

7. Involve the For-Profit Sector

National Nonprofit Day is the perfect time to reach out to friends and acquaintances working in the for-profit section and get them involved in supporting your organization. Local businesses might be interested in sponsorships or you could apply to be on a company’s matching gift program. Companies are always looking for ways to engage with nonprofits and will be even more interested in giving back on this day. Make the most of this time to see how you can engage with them. If a company isn’t able to pledge financial support, ask if they would be interested in your volunteering program or if they would be willing to highlight your work on social media.

Box, a content management company, used the day to spotlight local organizations and present their mission and work to Box teams. This is a great way to engage with company employees and spread the word about your organization.

Building relationships with for-profit businesses can unlock many opportunities for your organization. There’s no better time to ask for support than when nonprofit work is top of mind!

8. Celebrate Your People

Your employees, volunteers and community supporters work really hard every day. National Nonprofit Day is the best day to celebrate their efforts, acknowledge their contribution to your mission. 

While you might be launching a campaign, running online events or fundraising on the day – make sure you take some time to speak to your team and celebrate the work you are doing together. Encourage team members to share stories of success and their own feelings about being part of your organization. 

If you aren’t doing anything major on the day, post about these celebrations with your team on social media to show your supporters how you celebrated. 

The AFSCME Council did a great shoutout to their nonprofit members and thanked them for all their hard work. 

National Nonprofit Day is an opportunity to spread the word, engage with supporters, and inspire them to help. 

If you’re hosting an event, sending out newsletters or personalized donor communication, a robust Nonprofit CRM can help make things a lot easier. 

But no matter what you choose to do, take a minute to appreciate your organization’s work and the impact your efforts have made. National Nonprofit Day is a celebration for you and your team.  

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