One of the quickest and easiest fundraising and outreach ideas is to publish a wish list.  While it’s common for charitable organizations to publish wishlists at the end of the year, there are other times of year that you can be just as successful.

What to Include on Wish Lists

On your wishlist include items in a range of price points so that a variety of donors can participate.  Here are some ideas to consider:

  1. Big upgrade items. Technology changes fast; too fast for many nonprofits.  Ask for items that will help you run your operation more efficiently such as new copiers, computers, printers, or monitors.  Be specific on make and models.  The last thing you need is a “doorstop” computer donated.
  2. Everyday items such as copy paper and light bulbs.   This allows people with smaller budgets to participate and you get stuff that you really do need anyway.
  3. Gifts for clients. Collection drives for toys, clothing and other gifts are common during the Christmas season. If this is not something that you normally do, consider how you can be creative with this request so that it stands out from the other groups in your area.  For example, instead of asking for something general like “toys” be specific, “books for children, Kindergarten through 5th grade.”
  4. Service related items. While many nonprofits ask for gifts for specific recipients, perhaps you need items to run your programs all year long.  For example, an after school program could ask notebook paper, crayons and markers (or even computer related items like flash drives).
  5. Gifts/prizes that could be used in a fundraising event you already have planned for next year.  For example, if you will have an auction ask for donations of gift cards to go in gift baskets up for bid.
  6. Building materials. Need to spruce up the place?  Ask for donations for a specific repair project and/or hardware store gift cards.
  7. Books. Need to expand your fundraising or nonprofit management library?  Ask for books that will help you do your job!
  8. Dream big. What’s your highest “pie in the sky” dream donation?  Include this on the list.  You never know who may see your request and be ready to make that dream a reality.

Where to Publish Your Wish List

No one can make donations if they don’t know about your wishes!  Here’s some ideas for where to publish your wish list:

  1. Traditional media. Give your local TV, newspaper and radio stations a call. Most of them run wishlists for various charities at the end of the year.
  2. Regional agencies. Check with your local non profit resource management center.  Do they have a running list of nonprofit wishlists?  The Texas NonProfits website provides a great example with their searchable database of wishlists.
  3. Your own website. Make it prominent on the home page and on the donation page.
  4. Your newsletter. Include your list in print and email newsletters.  This is not limited to end of year lists or holiday collection drives either.
  5. Online Lists. Create an online wishlist at and let supporters shop online, quickly and securely.  They can even send the donation directly to your door.  (Link to this list from your website.)

Do you have other ideas or experiences with holiday or other wishlists?  Post your comments below.

Posted on 08 December 2008

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