What Would St. Nick Say?
St. Nick (or Sinterklaas as we called him) was part of my tradition growing up in Holland. Dec. 5 was when we received our gifts as kids. The night before, we’d put our shoe with some straw and carrots for St. Nick’s white horse in the corner of our living room. And he and his little helper black Pete would come and drop our gifts near our shoes. Here are two links to the explanation of this tradition. here or here.
As we got older, we’d draw names from a hat and get together that night to share “surprise” gifts with each other—with a rhyme! We’d read the rhyme out loud and opened the gift, drink hot cocoa, eat chocolate letters and pepernoten (like little mini ginger snaps) and have fun!
When I moved to this country, for many years, I did the same. I’d invite some Dutch and American friends, and we had a blast. Later, we changed it to the American Yankee Swap, but still with the rhyme, hot cocoa and pepernoten.
It’s just an example of how traditions can be kept alive, but with little adjustments (in this case we had to do this, because sometimes snow would prevent those who had drawn other friends’ names from attending). The Yankee Swap with rhyme was a good alternative.
As you’re getting ready to pick out your live tree or put up your “fake” Christmas tree and other holiday decorations, you no doubt do this because it’s a family tradition. It’s something that was passed down from your parents and/or grandparents.
In this fast-paced and changing world, some want us to do away with those traditions just because “it’s time for a change.”
Well, here’s the reality: There’s nothing wrong with traditions! It’s something that gives us a safety net. If nothing else, it’s something we can count on, no matter what else is going on in the world. And it’s good to create new traditions. Just like so many of you participated in #GivingTuesday last week! A new tradition. I hope you did well.
Just like so many donors who are finding the time to sit down and write their checks or go online to make their holiday gifts. Another tradition no organization can do without. And if the letters I receive in my mailbox are any indication, direct mail is fortunately still alive and well!
But what would happen if its snows and the mail can’t get out? What if the power goes out and people can’t check their emails and phones? The funds would dry up quickly.
So, consider starting the new year off right with another new tradition: Ask your donors (especially those who gave smaller amounts over the holidays) to consider giving monthly. St. Nick says that’s a tradition worth introducing or expanding in your organization.
Your clients, animals, children you serve will be able to eat a lot more pepernoten next year if you do!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.