Why there’s more to a Christmas appeal than ‘Christmas Appeal’

Jaz Nannar | October 26th, 2012

In the world of fundraising, Christmas inevitably starts in September – before the first incredulous postings of mince pies spotted in M&S have even appeared on Facebook.

Despite our own over-familiarity, we know that for many donors, Christmas still signals ‘special’ and ‘time to make my biggest gift’. But simply writing Christmas Appeal on an outer envelope or overlaying a picture of Father Christmas leaves interesting territory unexplored – as these examples show.

The baring of bits

It takes a lateral leap to go from Leukaemia Research to the Women’s Institute, in the buff on a charity calendar… But the fabulous meeting of jam, Jerusalem and jolly-good-show is British bonkers at its best – a bit like Movember.

While the trend they started may now be tiring, the brave ladies of the WI raised over £2 million by adding warmth and wit to a simple format. And that’s more satisfying than a sack of Santas.

The getting of goats
While virtual gifts can be a real divider, (‘a welcome change from the crass commercialism of Christmas’ V ‘great idea but where’s my present?’) they are still a powerful source of funds for many charities – and goats aren’t the only way to go.

For example, the Collect and Destroy a Weapon Fund, Sponsor a brain cell for Alzheimer’s research and 100 snails for a Liberian family offer a fresh take on a popular theme (see www.goodgifts.org).

The lesson of packaging virtual gifts in interesting ways is something we can apply across the charity sector because if there’s one thing donors want to know it’s ‘what will my money buy?’

The saving of trees

Finally, I have to mention the e-card – and Crisis, in many ways the quintessential Christmas charity.

This year, they will be reaching out to the corporate sector through ads in the Financial Times, asking companies to choose from eight one-minute e-cards, which feature people who have been helped by Crisis singing classic Christmas songs (christmascard.crisis.org.uk).

Simple, respectful, positive – all useful watchwords for a time of year when we can all be inclined to overdo it a bit.