Downtown Holland creates holiday magic with a little crowdfunding

With the help of a new community-minded crowdsourcing website, a Christmas tree is adding some sparkle to downtown Holland for the upcoming holiday season — and will for years to come. 

The crowdsourcing campaign, which ran through much of October, brought in a total of $13,750 in donations, just shy of the original campaign goal of $16,000. Enough funds were raised from the 37 donors to allow for the purchase and installation of an artificial pre-lit Christmas tree for the entire community to enjoy, with some funds left over to help cover next year’s installation costs.


The funding platform Patronicity was born in Detroit with the idea that crowdfunding could be used to help finance community improvement projects. Patronicity partners with the Michigan Economic Development Corp. to provide matching grants for what the organization terms "crowdgranting."
City officials worked with the crowdsourcing platform Patronicity to purchase and install a 20-foot Christmas tree in a downtown Holland park. (City of Holland)
Patronicity simplifies the grant process. The application is one page long and takes three business days to review. All grants are aimed at placemaking, which capitalizes on local assets to create a sense of place.

The platform has facilitated $9.2 million in funding for 255 projects almost everywhere in the state.

“People become invested in their own spaces, and those spaces are better loved and better used,” says Patronicity Michigan Director Mahala Clayton.

Public-private partnership

Downtown Holland chose Patronicity to help raise funds for its Christmas tree project because of its partnership with the MEDC, Downtown Holland Marketing Coordinator Kara de Alvare says.

“And while our tight timeline did not give us an opportunity to pursue a placemaking grant for the purchase of the Christmas tree, we’re excited about possibly exploring this more in the future now that we are familiar with the platform,” de Alvare says. “We were blown away by the generosity of our local community members and our downtown Holland businesses who contributed to the Christmas tree fundraiser.”

The 20-foot Christmas tree was installed in GDK Park (on the north side of Eighth Street between Central and River avenues) earlier this month.

Changes to events

Though Downtown Holland has canceled this year’s Holiday Open House, Parade of Lights and Up On The Rooftops events out of concern for the health and safety of the community due to COVID-19, several socially distanced events will take their place. 

Shop ‘Til You Drop runs through Friday, Nov. 20, with specials at many shops.

Small Business Saturday will be Nov. 28. The annual Small Business Saturday Selfie Contest on social media offers shoppers a chance to win a $100 gift card to their favorite Downtown Holland business.

The Shopping Jam will run Dec. 12-19, so shoppers can be more socially distanced while still supporting local business. 

Downtown businesses are giving away prizes worth hundreds of dollars during a new promotion, The 12 Days of Christmas (Dec. 13-24). Customers will also be able to enter to win a daily giveaway.

Many stores offer online ordering or curbside pickup and are going out of their way to be accommodating to shoppers, de Alvare says.

“Businesses have really learned to be nimble,” she says. “This has been a difficult year for our businesses, and they are all feeling the pressure of the upcoming holiday season. It’s our sincere hope that having a beautifully lit Christmas tree on Eighth Street will help bring a little extra holiday magic to downtown Holland this upcoming season — for both our businesses and our customers. … We wanted to bring something a little magical to downtown.”

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