Public holidays can be good opportunities to reach out to the community you serve, including your (foreign) partners and donors. For instance, by hosting an event, organizing an activity, or sending a (personal) message. Here is what you need to consider when planning outreach for a public holiday.
Is there a link to your mission?
First of all, be clear about the link between the public holiday and your mission. What values, principles or concepts does the holiday speak to that are also part of your vision, mission, value statement? Try to formulate this very clearly.
Is it relevant to your target group?
If there is a clear link to your mission, think about the relevance to your target group. Are these values meaningful to them? Why? How?
Does your target celebrate this day?
Consider if your target group observes this particular holiday. Are there traditions involved with this holiday that you can add or link to in an event or message?
What about your (foreign) partners and donors?
Your (foreign) partners and donors are specific subsets of the community you serve. They might not share all the same characteristics with each other and with your target group. For instance, they may be located in a different country. Or they may have a different nationality or a different (religious) background.
So, take a careful look at whether the holiday has meaning to these groups, too. Maybe they don’t observe this day but perhaps the values behind the day are relevant for them. Maybe they have other public holidays on which they celebrate these values.
Easy examples are national independence days, liberation days but also the start of a new year.
Outreach around religious holidays
If you want to reach out around a religious holiday, keep in mind that this day might not be relevant to everyone. People may have different traditions. Or they may have a different religion altogether, with a different calendar and/or different holidays. Others may not observe any religious holidays at all. Because that is part of their religion or because they don’t have a religion they follow.
There can be many reasons why your public holiday may not be meaningful to others in the way it is for you.
Always think of the goal of your outreach
With your outreach around public holidays, you usually aim to build or reinforce a connection, the feeling of togetherness. That is why it is so crucial to think about the relevance of the holiday for your organization’s mission and for the different people you serve.
In-sensitivities can ruin bridges instead of building them
An Eid Mubarak message to someone observing Easter, or vice versa, can create a feeling of disinterest or even disrespect instead of togetherness. The same can occur if your liberation day is a day of defeat for another. To name just two simple examples of what may go wrong in outreach around a public holiday.
It is important that you are sure you have truly seen the people you want to reach. That you really know what is important for them and what may not be.
If you don’t know what is important, or if you have no idea about someone’s religion or background concerning the public holiday, choose another occasion to reach out. Don’t forget that in some contexts, religion is considered a private topic, while in other settings it may still be dangerous for an individual to declare their faith. Don’t assume to know and don’t ask unless you have built relations of trust that make it safe for a person to share if they want to.
My key tips
- Be clear about why and how this holiday is relevant to your work. (And distinguish between what may be relevant to you personally and what is meaningful for the work).
- Analyze what you know about the community you serve, including (foreign) partners and donors.
- Truly respect any differences.
Want to know more and ask questions?
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