Should I run a Christmas campaign?? Yes, yes and yes again!
I’ve had conversations with charities in the past where they have questioned whether they should run a Festive fundraising campaign if they aren’t running any services over the Christmas period. My answer to them is always YES, yes you should. Firstly, I’m fairly certain that not every charity who raises money at this time of year is open on Christmas Day or Boxing Day and many of them won’t be doing anything different to their bread and butter work that serves their clients so well day in and day out throughout the rest of the year. Secondly, a whopping 31% of annual donations happens in December, so if you aren’t asking now, you are potentially missing out on lots of money, and it might even look like you don’t really need it compared to other charities who are putting out their impassioned pleas. For many people giving to charities in December is a great way of balancing out a very commercial time of year. It is also a time where the differences between the haves and the have nots are highlighted more than ever and people like to feel they are doing something about this. So how do you go about it if you have never organised a Christmas Campaign before?
How are you going to take the donations? You could do this on your website, or you could set up a campaign with a third-party website. You can set up campaigns with both Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving and both will give you a professional looking page with a % of target icon.
Get a good story, as I said, it doesn’t matter if you are running any special services over Xmas but you do need to get a quote from someone who uses your services about the challenges they face over Christmas/Winter (obviously if you are an animal charity you might need to use the vet for a quote as animals are notoriously reticent to give quotes!!)
Get a good photo – depending on your cause and your resources you may want to go for a photo of the person who is giving the quote. However there are times a photo of a client may be inappropriate, the person giving the quote who just poured their soul out to you about how difficult Christmas can be may not be keen to be photographed, or they might not have anything suitable and you might not be able to take one yourself. In this case turn to stock photos. You can find free images at www.pixabay.com, and www.pexels.com or you can get a free month trial at Adobe Stock
Use a shopping list – what could a £5 donation pay for? What about a £15 or £30 or £100 – have a few price points and make it clear this is what the donation COULD pay for not WILL pay for to avoid any problems with restricting donations.
Ask for donations! I would always start with an initial email out to your mailing list usually around mid-November (I think most people who don’t work in fundraising don’t start thinking about Christmas until after Bonfire Night). I would also launch on social media at this time and send something out to your local papers if you are a local/regional charity. I would then set up regular social media posts (ensure you are interspersing these with other posts so they aren’t all fundraising requests) and at least one more email.
Ensure your stakeholders are engaged. Have your trustees and volunteers all seen the email and social media posts? Can they share them amongst their contacts? What about any corporates you have had dealings with? Even if they have already fundraised for you, they might be interested in hearing about what you are doing at Christmas.
Mailing – if you have a mailing list and a budget to send letters, then this is a great way of picking up supporters who may not be following you on social media or on your email list. Depending on the size of your list you may be able to do this in house or you may want to use a mailing house. Use your quotes, images and shopping list from your email but remember to write differently for a mailing than an email.
Supplement your income with other activities. Can any businesses in the area support you? Could the local schools do a collection? Could you hold a bucket collection? Could the local choir do a concert for you? This is a time of year when many people’s generosity is overflowing and they are keen to find a great cause to support, so get out there and let them know what a difference it will make to the people your charity supports if they choose you.
At the end of the campaign don’t forget to thank everyone who supported you as it is the best way to keep them coming back to your charity. I once received a £1k donation following a thank you to the mailing list to everyone who donated! It is also always worth doing some analysis about where the main sources of income for the campaign came from and what didn’t work so well. If you leave it until the planning stages for the following year you will definitely have forgotten! If you would like any help with planning a Christmas campaign or analysing your campaign in January, then please feel free to get in touch.