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Tricks & Treats for Nonprofits to Spark Action This Halloween

Tis the season for candycorn, caramel apples, and costumes. It’s also a great time for nonprofits to host a contest or run a Halloween campaign focusing on one of your issues to enage your constituents before launching into the holiday season and the year-end fundraising. Did you know that 30% more people enter promotion campaigns at Halloween than on non-festive days of the year? It'd be great to see how other holidays compare. Do you think that Valentine's Day and Mother's Day get a similar bump? What times of the year have you gotten the most traction?

I found this infographic from Antavo that talks about Halloween contests that involve your constituents' costumes, their pumpkin carving skills, their screaming abilities, and their pets (because 1/5 people dress up their pets).

While the ideas in this infographic are geared toward Facebook contests, you can repurpose these ideas across social networks, and you can structure them as contests or campaigns. These contests and campaigns can be tailored for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other network that your organization is social on.

This is a creative way to foster discussions with your community and keep them engaged. You can also host a themed pumpkin carving contest that is connected to one of the campaigns you are working on.  For example, if you work on food issues, you can start a recipe contest for the scariest looking food. People are already on a roll, just search "Halloween recipes" on Pinterest.

The National Zoo hosts an annual Boo at the Zoo campaign, which has raised a lot of money for the nonprofit.  The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has used Halloween to promote their clean energy campaigns in the past, and to talk about the Most Fascinating Things About Halloween's Scariest Creatures. Halloween is a chance to put a spin on the information that you diseminate on a regular basis, and to more readily grab your constituents' attention. Goodwill SoCal is currently asking people to enter their one-of-a-kind Goodwill Halloween costumes. They're running the contest on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If people enter on Facebook, they also have to Like Goodwill's Facebook page.

One way to ask people to enter a contest or engage in conversation about a campaign is through the use of hashtags. Make sure to note that people who enter a contest through a social network need to make sure that their entry is public. Even if they're using the hashtag, if they aren’t posting publicly (users need to look at their privacy settings), their entry won't be counted. This is particularly true for Instagram.

Take a look at the infographic, and see if it helps you get any ideas for your organization.

What Halloween contests and campaigns has your nonprofit hosted before, or do you plan to host? We'd love to hear.


Reader Comments (1)

Ms. Kapin,

I really enjoyed your article about Halloween campaigning, and how nonprofits can best utilize this statistic around this time of year. As a student studying nonprofits as well as social media marketing, this post is very relevant to strategies nonprofits should employ to further draw attention to their mission as well as engage their audience and potential donors. Goodwill is a great example, as you mentioned, as well as UNICEF, who has used Halloween to promote giving with their annual Trick-or-Treat campaign. Much like UNICEF’s orange box, is the Red Kettle of Salvation Army’s holiday campaign. This similarity made me ponder how nonprofits can think of capitalizing on, not only Halloween, but also employ these tactics for the entire holiday season.

While lacking a visually appealing infographics like Antavo’s Halloween graphic, there is a lot of data supporting that the holiday season is a great time for nonprofits to solicit as well as spread awareness and engage, which seems to be an obvious fit as the holidays tend to be synonymous with giving. Network for Good reported that the average donation increases by $51 during the holiday season, an increase from $91 to $142. Indiana University also reports that 24% of giving occurs between Thanksgiving and New Years. This giving season is a great time to even further generate giving using the some of the Halloween tactics revamped for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. For instance, Goodwill can advance their holiday sweater promotion by engaging consumers with a contest. Not only through picture submissions through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but also through engagement like Pinterest boards planning holiday sweater parties, or blog posts explaining how they refurbished a sweater from Goodwill to craft a holiday sweater from scratch. UNICEF can similarly take their orange box campaign and overhaul it for the holidays by making it a Carol-for-UNICEF holiday box. I acknowledge that these extended campaigns can take away from the initial push of the Halloween campaigns and could generate diminished enthusiasm, but fervor for the holidays seems to be hard to weaken because of all the different traditions that surround each. Your article highlights great Halloween themed promotions for organizations, as Halloween is not necessarily thought to be a ‘giving holiday,’ whereas the holiday season seems to be doing fine on it’s own. Despite the already increased giving during the holiday season, I think that unique strategies, like those employed for Halloween, can only further set apart nonprofit holiday campaigns and can create a greater network for giving and awareness for nonprofits during the holidays.
November 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeredith

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