Halloween Fundraising 101: A Killer Guide for Nonprofits

It's Halloween!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, especially when it comes to fundraising and cause marketing. I could write yet another post on Halloween but I've said it all before. Here's a round-up of some of my best Halloween posts on fundraising and cause marketing from my blog and around the web.

My Own Experience with Hallowen

Halloween Town Boston [VIDEO]

Halloween Town by the Numbers

Countdown to Halloween Town: Pinups to the People

Halloween Cause Marketing is a Treat, Not a Trick

Why You Should Have a Halloween Fundraiser

5 Reasons to Have a Halloween Fundraiser

4 Reasons to Have a Halloween Fundraiser Next Year, 8 Ways to Get Started

Halloween Cause Marketing

Halloween Cause Marketing Scares Up Funds for Nonprofits

Halloween Cause Marketing Board [PINTEREST]

Halloween Inspired!

5 Nonprofit Lessons from The Walking Dead

Hurricane Hits! Apocalypse Looms! Get a Go Bag!

CauseTalk Radio Ep31: Red Cross Targets Millenials with “Saving Zombies [PODCAST]

P. S. Those of you who know me well know I'm an avid gardener. I laughed out loud when I saw this tweet from the flower peeps @proven_winners.

What a tribute to one of the first and best horror films ever! I plan to add this beauty to my garden next year. A summer reminder of what's to come: Halloween!

4 Reasons to Have a Halloween Fundraiser Next Year, 8 Ways to Get Started

At nearly $7 billion in sales, Halloween is a frighteningly successful holiday - second only to Christmas in consumer spending. But for fundraisers Jack Skellington's Halloween is #1.

Halloween is social. Halloween isn't the family holiday that Thanksgiving and Christmas are. Parents parade their kids out in neighborhoods, and costume parties for all ages are everywhere. Halloween is the holiday of weak ties and you should capitalize on its casual, fun and social nature.

Halloween is packed all into one exciting night. The major holidays seem to drag on forever. But Halloween has a zombie-like following that kids and adults crave like the undead love BRAINS! Feed the need with your halloween fundraiser.

Halloween is non-denominational. You're not stepping on any toes by having a Halloween fundraiser. It's not a religious holiday that's going to exclude anyone and ruffle some feathers. It's kind of like Thanksgiving with candy instead of turkey. Most people love it!

Halloween is part of everyone's business model these days. I'm looking at this from a cause marketing perspective and the potential for you to work with businesses. Department stores, convenience stores, party stores and supermarkets, they all sell Halloween costumes, candy and decorations. They are all potential partners for your Halloween fundraiser.

8 easy ways to get started with Halloween fundraisers

1. Seasonal Halloween stores pop up everywhere this time of year. Find out which stores setup in your area from your local chamber or town hall and plan a fundraiser. Spirit Halloween, which has 900 temporary stores from Labor Day to early November, has already raised $2.5 million for children's hospitals this month. It's worth looking in to.

2. Collect candy for the poor, homeless or troops abroad. The Good Scout Blog has some good suggestions on who you can help.

3. Collect food and coats. Just give people a heads up before you drop by. I participate in a great program with a local college that collects canned and packaged good for the needy on Halloween. The day before Halloween they drop off a flier letting us know when they'll be buy for a pick up. I love giving back Halloween night!

4. Wear your cause on your sleeve. If you favor a particular cause, pick a costume that reflects it. How about a doctor or nurse from your local cancer hospital. Support the local zoo? I always wanted to see a giraffe costume! Check out this HuffPost slideshow for other ideas. You can also buy a gently used costume from Goodwill and support their mission.

5. Try reverse trick or treating. Instead of asking for treats, two Boston kids are delivering an informational card to homes to bring awareness to child labor in name-brand chocolate factories. A heavy topic for Halloween, but I bet they'll will get people's attention because it's so unexpected and definitely frightening.

6. What's stopping you from collecting money like UNICEF? If you show up at a neighbor's door with a homemade coin canister for your favorite cause, will they really say no because you're not toting an orange UNICEF box? Of course, you could just raise money for UNICEF.

7. Zombie walks are dead and growing! The Chronicle of Philanthropy had a good article last week on how these lurching, gory walks are becoming popular in many cities

8. If you already have a Halloween event recruit forget sponsorships and focus on cause marketing partners. You'll raise more money. Read up on how I used cause marketing for Halloween Town.

Good luck tonight and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

How Nonprofits Can Stop a Zombie Apocalypse

I love zombie films.

I can’t get enough of them, especially around Halloween when the shadows from the leafless trees take on ominous shapes. Yikes!

While you may not share my love for the semi-dead, you might agree with this: most of us are surrounded by these mute, will-less, dumb, sometimes evil and dangerous brutes everyday.

The zombies stalking nonprofits are the people and situations they face daily that threaten their success and risk plunging them into a zombie apocalypse.

It’s scary stuff. Fortunately, there’s help thanks to my extensive zombie cinematic background and training.

One of my favorite zombie movies is Zombieland, which has a long list of rules for survival, shared throughout the film by the main character, Columbus.

Eight of these rules are critical to your nonprofit's survival. Ignore them at your own risk.

1. Cardio. The calorically-challenged end up as zombie food because they can’t outrun these monsters. Your cause too will also meet a horrible end if you’re not prepared to go the distance and persevere year after year. Success in anything doesn't happen overnight. It requires endurance. Don’t let your cause fall prey to the zombies just because you weren't up to the challenge of going long.

Appropriate Training: Make a commitment to something new that will make a real difference to your cause and stick with it. It could be updating your technology infrastructure, learning social media or - my personal favorite - giving cause marketing a try.

2. Double Tap. What a waste to die at the hands of a zombie just because you were too lazy and didn’t shoot them twice. Just like it would be a waste to give up on a program or project after the first try because someone said no, a company pulled out or because the a campaign had mixed or poor results. Like W. C. Fields said: "Try, and if you fail, try again. Then quit. No sense being a fool about it." But try again! Don’t give into the zombies and just give in after one shot.

Appropriate training: Pick an event, program or project that you think is worth a second shot and go for it.

3. Kill with Efficiency. Why bother reloading a gun when a nice, heavy toilet cover or rolling pin is handy? Don’t focus on the preferred or cool way to get the job done. Focus on getting things done. Everyone wants to do online giving, Facebook Like promotions, and land trendy partnerships with cool retailers like Apple and The Gap. But what’s at hand for cause marketing is easy to execute point-of-sale or purchase-triggered donation program with local retailers. They’re not always sexy, but they get the job done (raising money, increasing awareness). Zombies hate that!

Appropriate training: Take a good look at all the things your nonprofit does. What are your bread and butter programs that produce every year. Can you enhance their success or replicate another success from them?

4. Beware of Bathrooms. Confining yourself to a small space is not a good way to fend off the zombie hordes. A nonprofit that puts 100% of its time into cause marketing or events or grants is cornering themselves in a bathroom. It’s small, limiting and doesn’t get you to where you want to go - unless you really have to go. Don't confine yourself to one thing, regardless of how good it is. Spread yourself out!

Appropriate training: Start exploring new directions for your nonprofit and set one new course before the end of the year.

5. Get a Kickass Partner. Loners just don’t last very long in zombie films. Sigh. Doing fundraising by yourself - which can happen even if you're surrounded by many others (AKA zombies) - can be equally short-lived. I had kick-ass partners in Joanna MacDonald who helped me write Cause Marketing for Dummies. David Hessekiel and Megan Strand at Cause Marketing Forum are my kick-ass partners in everything cause-related. John Haydon is my tech and Facebook guru and truly my Tallahassee, although he acts more like Witchita. Regardless, I have people I can count on. So should you.

Appropriate training: Look around you. Would you describe your colleagues and partners as better candidates for "double taps" than kickass partners? It's time to reevaluate your relationships.

6. Check the Back Seat. It happens all the time in zombie movies: someone gets killed in their car because they didn’t check the back seat. Stupid way to go. To make sure you don’t meet the same end, watch for these nasty surprises.

  • A 100-slide PowerPoint presentation that no one at the meeting you're going to wants to see.
  • A bureaucrat from your office or board that will spend a whole meeting with a company blathering about your nonprofit’s mission and not saying a word about the potential opportunity for both partners.

Appropriate training:

Double check the things you do everyday or before fundraising calls. Are they helpful, useful? Or are they just obstacles to your success.

7. Opportunity knocks. One of the lessons of Zombieland is that opportunities in life just don’t come knocking. You still have to get off your butt and open the door! That’s how I feel about Halloween and even zombie events for fundraising and cause marketing. I promise if you open this door you'll find opportunity, not zombies.

Appropriate training: It's too late this year to plan a Halloween fundraiser, but it's a perfect time to plan one for next year. Here are some ideas on how others are using Halloween to give back.

8. God Bless Rednecks. Because they have all the guns and ammo you need kill zombies! Fundraising is a red-blooded business that raises most of its money from regular people just like you and me - especially when it comes to the cause marketing programs I specialize in. A few coins in a canister. A buck at the register. Fifty cents from the sale of a soda, sweater or meal. Regular people are the drivers behind programs that raise hundreds of millions of dollars for good causes every year.

In this zombie world of ours, they are your ultimate kickass partner.

Better Homes & Gardens Launches Carving for a Cause


The gang over at For Momentum had a yesterday on a new cause marketing program that Better Homes and Gardens is launching on their website this fall.

Of course, I'm a self-professed Halloween junkie (along with David Neff) so I love stuff like this.

Every fall, pumpkins and pumpkin stencils are the most popular content on BH&G website. This year — for the first time ever — Better Homes and Gardens is tapping into the popularity of its stencils to support five nonprofit partners, including For Momentum client Rebuilding Together.

This cause marketing program includes both message promotion and action-triggered donation  components.

BH&G projects that the Carving for a Cause campaign will generate nearly 23 million impressions (both in print and online) for its five nonprofit partners. In addition to the awareness campaign, a $2.00 donation to the charity will be made for each stencil downloaded, up to a maximum of $5,000 per charity ($25,000 total).

This is a great cause marketing program to kick-off the Halloween season. Do you know of others? Please share them with me!

Halloween Cause Marketing is a Treat, Not a Trick

This was a big transition year for our annual Halloween fundraiser. We switched from Halloween Town to HalloweenFest, which was held this past weekend in conjunction with PRU BOO, an annual trick or treating event at The Shops at the Prudential Center. Joanna and Jessica on the cause marketing team added all sorts of fun activities for families that made the event more enjoyable for shoppers, and initial feedback from retailers in the mall point to happier tenents and more traffic--just what the mall marketing team wanted.

The event wouldn't have been a success without our great sponsors!

A big part of the promoton and fundraising for HalloweenFest is our annual pinup program with iParty stores. They've been dressing up kids for Halloween for years and this is their busiest time of year. Nonetheless, they take time out of their hectic work to raise money for The Kid's Fund right through this weekend.

Hanging out at the Pru all weekend a couple of other point-of-sale cause marketing programs caught my attention. The one below with Dunkin Donuts was interesting. I had never seen them do point-of-sale before!

While we're still searching for the perfect cause marketing formula for success in October, I'm confident that Halloween is a great holiday for us and cause marketers in general. With revenue expected to bouce back to nearly $6 billion this year, Halloween is second only to the holiday season in consumer spending.

Check out this post I wrote in 2008 that hightlights the reasons not to be afraid of Halloween cause marketing. Here's the summary:

Consumer Holidays + Retailers = Great Cause Marketing

Celebrate Halloween this year by making plans for your own Halloween cause marketing promotion for 2011.

Also, if your nonprofit or business is hosting a Halloween fundraiser this year I'd love to hear about it!

Halloween Town by the Numbers

I had thought of writing a long recap on the event, but I think this pretty much says it all about Halloween Town 2009. 850 volunteers

120,000 pieces of candy given away (5,000 pieces eaten by me)

6 zones of entertainment

70,000 square feet of decorations, sets, activities, lighting, staging

5,000,000 media impressions

100 entertainers

8 shows by musician Dan Zanes

15,000 attendees over two days

100,000 prizes distributed

6,000 free tickets distributed to organizations that serve poor families

5,000 pumpkins decorated

700 cornstalks and 30 bales of hay used for decorations.

500 pounds of sand for one of our most popular activities, The Gravedigger Game

41 corporate and media sponsors involved in the event

300,000pin-ups printed

500% growth in online ticket sales

1500 more attendees than last year

2500 light sticks and 800 balloons sold

400 R. I. P.'s (Really Important People) wooed for next year's event.

This year's event was a big success!  And planning for next year has already begun!