Fundraising in the Chinese Canadian Community – Chinese New Year

This blog post is not exactly a continuation of my previous post on what to be mindful of when engaging the Chinese Community in fundraising. However, if you would like to understand more about my experiences with what the Chinese philanthropy scene is like, you can check out my previous post here.

As charities, we tend to see our biggest volume of gifts coming in through Thanksgiving and Christmas. But did you know that for many ethnic cultures, besides the mainstream holidays, people are also very generous when celebrating their cultural holidays? For the Chinese Canadian community, there is no holiday more important and universally celebrated than Chinese New Year.

Lunar New Year, or more commonly known as Chinese New Year, is the celebration of the arrival of the new year, marking the midpoint of the Winter solstice and Spring equinox. It is called Rural New Year because the dates are based on the Rural Calendar, a traditional calendar that is commonly used today in China in conjunction with the Gregorian calendar. Twenty years ago, nobody outside of the Chinese Canadian Community really knew about Chinese New Year. But as businesses begin to realize the potential of the Chinese Canadian market, Chinese New Year commercials are flooding the radios, televisions, newspapers, and online.

Chinese New Year commonly begins around the beginning of February and lasts for almost a whole month. In 2015-16, Chinese New Year Day will begin on February 8, 2016 (exactly a month from when this blog is published) and last until February 22. Each year of the Rural Calendar is also marked by a Chinese Animal Zodiac on a 12 year cycle; for this year it is the monkey. Chinese New Year, to put it simply, is like a combination of New Year and Thanksgiving. Chinese communities prepare to welcome the new year, to bring good fortune, to wish for good health, and to spend time with family. For the next few weeks, Chinese Communities are filled with celebrations and events to bring the whole community together and a time to give back to the community. Your charity is a part of the Chinese communities you serve, and here are two of the best ways to engage them during Chinese New Year: Direct Mail and Events.

Special Events:

The Chinese Community really responds well to special events, and Chinese New Year is the perfect time to put together an event. The purpose of special events during Chinese New Year is to take advantage of the large amounts of traffic generated by these events to engage potential donors and supporters in the Chinese Community. Whether you are launching an event yourself or partnering with an established event, you should create a network of community leaders and volunteers to guide you. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when you participate in a local Chinese New Year Event or host one of your own:



Direct Mail:

When using Direct Mail to engage the Chinese community during Chinese New Year, it is very important to make sure you are sending to the right communities as your messaging will be very specific. This means a lot of work will have to go into analyzing your donor and supporter data for your mailing lists to make sure you are actually hitting your local Chinese communities. If your mailing list is lacking, a great way to build your list for next year is to partner with other Chinese non-profit organizations or businesses to feature you in their communications and advertisements. Another great way to build your mailing list is through your engagement work through your special events. Once you have your first list to mail to, here are some tips to spice up your campaign.

I hope these tips will give you a general idea of what your charity can do in the upcoming Chinese New Year when engaging your local Chinese Communities. One very important lesson I have learned so far in the Fellowship is to start small, don’t expect to do everything by February. Choose something small, perhaps you can ask some volunteers to help you man a booth at the Chinese New Year Night Market. Or perhaps you can engage with a Chinese board member or long time supporter to help you set up a lion dance event for your clients and the public. Whatever course it may be, the most important thing is to be respectful and do not be afraid to ask questions and collaborate with your supporters.

Happy Chinese New Year! Gung Hey Fat Choi!