How to Make This Season Bright by Giving Back

Vendini Business Tips, Marketing, Member Spotlight

The holiday season likely means a lot of things for your organization, including giving back to your community, managing gift card sales, thanking your donors and creating holiday promotions to drive sales.

In this four-part series, we’ll explore each of these topics to not only show you how some organizations have mastered these topics but also share some ideas to help your organization maximize the power of holiday giving in the coming months.

  • Part 2: Managing gift card sales
  • Part 3: Thanking donors
  • Part 4: Creating holiday promotions

First, we’ll talk about how your organization can give back this holiday season. Giving back means different things to different groups—whether it’s for your employees, your patrons or your community. The key is to how best to leverage your budget, time, team, event space and audience to give back.

Build your community

Giving back does not always have to be financial or physical. Your organization can give back by cultivating the community. In Oakdale, New York, CM Performing Arts Center is entirely run by volunteers. Kate Arso, who handles marketing and PR efforts, recalls when a field trip for underprivileged students was almost cancelled due to a lack of funding. She posted on the theater’s alumni Facebook page—and then received so many donations that the theater had to tell people to stop. Tapping into your organization’s relationships can create a strong network of support and care.

Work with a local organization or charity

Find a local organization that aligns with your organization’s mission and contribute to their cause. TheatreFIRST, a performing arts group in Berkeley, California, partnered with local health organizations for a free “Black Women and Femme” health fair inspired by their production “HeLa.” Jon Tracy, the Artistic Director at TheatreFIRST, says that the theatre is built on “a model of social and economic justice” and their performances have “become the launch pad to direct action that includes health fairs, free space, community discussions, and monthly benefits.” Actions like this help the larger community while allowing you to reach new audiences.

Holiday giving TheatreFIRST


Donate the proceeds from one night of your show

Once you find a local organization that aligns with your mission, host a benefit night for that group. Beta Nightclub in Denver, Colorado, teamed up with a group that strives to end the cycle of relationship violence, hosting a benefit night featuring the DJ Tiesto. In addition to donating the proceeds from the show, Beta collected donations online and at the event.

Prior to launching a benefit, Beta works with the charity to determine its top needs and how to most effectively generate attention. Lance Dunlap, the Executive Director of Entertainment and Marketing, says it’s important that the nightclub staff “understand the charity to properly send the right message to the fans, patrons, and friends.”

Holiday giving Beta Nightclub

Beta Nightclub

Host giveaways or raffles on social media

Often, people want to attend live events but do not have the budget for it. You can give back by hosting raffles on social media to give away free tickets or other packages. This also benefits your organization in spreading the word about the event or increasing your social following. Keep in mind that this may not work if your organization’s audience is rarely on social media or if you have a low social following.

Make use of your props and equipment

Performing arts organizations may throw props into storage and don’t think about them until the next show where they can reuse them. But costumes, props and equipment can be utilized for a good cause. Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is a “partner in education” to the local drama clubs and school theater programs, loaning props, costumes, and other production support. This aligns with the theater’s mission is to give back to the community and allows them to share the rich collection that they’ve curated over the past several years.

Holiday giving Oakridge Playhouse

Oak Ridge Playhouse

Donate gift cards to a good cause

Nonprofit organizations or organizations with small budgets can reach out to community groups hosting fundraisers or benefits, to donate branded gift cards for giveaways. This can easily elevate your brand, especially around the holiday season, and will help you reach new audiences and promote your organization in a positive light within the community.

Host a canned food drive

Leverage your audience at your events to bring goods for a canned food drive. Offer a prize or giveaway to incentivize patrons to donate. For example, you can create a raffle for VIP tickets or a season pass to your events, and give tickets to those who donate five canned food items. Or offer drink or food tickets at your event for bringing in cans.

Start a program at your organization

It can take more time and resources, but starting an educational or accessibility program is a great way to give back to your community over a long period of time. Edmonds Center for the Arts started hosting a one-off workshop in partnership with Songwriting Works, for those with dementia. Following demand for more workshops, they created a full program. This option of giving back is rewarding not only for others but also for your organization.

Intergenerational programming at Edmonds Center for the Arts

Edmonds Center for the Arts

Edmond Center for the Arts serves audiences impacted by dementia through creative and social enrichment programming.

Open your doors in a time of need

Sometimes, unexpected situations arise and your organization can step up to help those in need. During the recent Northern California fires, tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their homes. As local shelters filled up, the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, California, offered up their venue as a day center and served free meals to evacuees. This not only helps the less-fortunate members of your community, but it puts your organization in a positive light.

How do you give back at your organization? And if you put any of these ideas to work, let us know how it works out! Email us at with your thoughts and comments.

Do you need tools that help you manage your patrons, track donations or sell out your house? Hit us up for a free demo of our system to see how Vendini can help.