Here’s to a happy Christmas 2015 for your charity fundraising. No, it’s not a typo. It’s simply recognition that planning for successful Christmas fundraising usually takes place many months beforehand.
Any fundraiser would be right to be focusing on Christmas as a key fundraising opportunity. JustGiving recently reminded us that the week before Christmas sees the highest total donations on their platform of any week throughout the year.
But that success begins well before Christmas. While fundraising at Amnesty International UK in the early 90s, I smiled as my trading manager colleague would start selecting card designs for the Christmas catalogue - in February! The catalogue went to print in July for a first mailing in August. (Yes, enough people start their Christmas shopping that early to make such unseasonal mailings profitable).
Plenty of Christmas fundraising campaigns I have worked on have been planned with the windows open on sunny summer days.
Other fundraisers I asked confirmed that is standard. One is already planning his products for Christmas 2015. Another was too busy to reply as he was working on an Easter appeal!
Another knows when her Christmas mailing is being sent out in 2015, so she can schedule when to write it, which segments of the donor database to send it to, and what elements to split test. Not that she hasn’t got several other appeal mailings to work on before then.
So, if you were hoping to make the most of Christmas for fundraising this year, you’ve left it late.
Last minute Christmas presence of mind?
What can you do if you haven’t prepared a Christmas appeal? Here are a few suggestions.
- Take a deep breath, and decide to plan for Christmas 2015 far better. Look at what other charities are doing, which activities you can emulate and improve on, or which inspire you to create a successful appeal next year. Or, since no charity is in the position to forego income for a year or so…
- If you have some limited fundraising activity this Christmas, work out how you can learn the most from it. What can you measure from the activity, what can you test, and what might you learn to do better next year?
- Review whether there are any elements of your Christmas fundraising that can be improved or tweaked. You do mention Gift Aid prominently don’t you? Your website does work hard to persuade visitors to sign up to an email list?
- If you find you have to generate some kind of income for Christmas, explore SOFII.org to learn about what other Christmas appeals charities have tried, and how they have worked. Then see if there is one you can adapt quickly.
- Don’t assume it is all down to you. Take advantage of the cross-sector initiative that is #GivingTuesday, which runs for the first time in the UK this year tomorrow on Tuesday 2nd December. All kinds of charities, companies and supporters will be talking about it online and in the media. It is open to any organisation to join in with.
Don’t forget there are endless ways of making the most of Christmas fundraising. Some of my favourites include the five days of Twixtmas, making the most of Facebook etc on Christmas Day and Boxing Day when lots of people are using them, and campaigns that capitalise on New Year’s resolutions.
So, now it is December, I’ll wish you and your fundraising a happy and prosperous Christmas!
By Howard Lake, guest blogger.
Howard Lake has published UK Fundraising, the online resource and community for professional fundraisers, for 20 years. He is also founder of Fundraising Camp. He has trained thousands of fundraisers in how to use digital tools to fundraise.