Top tips for charities to boost donations this Christmas

Gail2As we take our summer holidays, let’s not forget that Christmas is on its way and charities would do well to prepare early because, according to research, British consumers turn their attention to the festive season earlier than you might think.

Research by eBay Ads found 25% of Brits who celebrate Christmas say they will have started thinking about festive shopping before the end of August.

People say they are feeling more optimistic about Christmas 2021 as they anticipate a more “normal” festive season than last year.

Moreover, nearly a third (30%) of consumers plan to spend more, and only 15% plan to spend less. This is much more optimistic compared to 2020, when just 13% said they’d spend more, and 31% said they’d spend less.

Christmas is a time of generosity – and a great occasion for fundraisers to reach out to new donors while also bringing in last-minute donations. This year, especially, we know that many charities urgently need to replenish their funds because of shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

And the good news is that there are some simple ways to do this – quick wins you can make without having to create a brand-new ad:

1 Quick adapts of DRTV and digital films to refresh existing creative

2 Adapt the script to include specific mentions of Christmas, as London’s Air Ambulance Charity did in this spot, and Children with Cancer UK did in this one

3 Change the opening screen so it looks new, and offers something fresh for the viewer to watch

4 Include different effects to give it a seasonal feel

5 Get a friendly celeb/senior leader to add a new message (filmed on their mobile) to add urgency and seasonality.

6 Book your media as soon as you can, thus ensuring the best possible spots. Pro bono slots are available, but they tend to be unresponsive and a waste of resource.

7 Integrate your messages – a single-minded proposition works best. Christmas is a busy time and you only have a few seconds to make a clear, compelling ask.

8 Tell your existing supporters you are on TV. Make them feel part of the effort and connected to your cause. It may inspire then to give one more time.

9 While regular giving is the main goal, a cash ask works well at Christmas.

10 Add a festive twist: focus, if possible, on specific things that the donor’s gift could do at Christmas time.

11 Christmas is a very cold time of year in the northern hemisphere. If relevant, mention the impact it will have on your cause.

12 Ask the donor to “add one extra gift” to their Christmas list.

13 Add a line reminding them that this could be the best gift they give this Christmas.

14 Finally, when the world zigs, zag – as Sir John Hegarty says. Run a New Year’s resolution ad instead of a Christmas ad. Why not?

Remember, too, to make sure your online real estate and journey is as integrated and seamless as possible. Last Christmas, online donations made in November and December accounted for 35% of all single and regular gifts during 2020. With adoption of online giving expected to increase again in 2021, the channel is another vital part of the fundraising mix.

Hopefully these tips have convinced you that time is of the essence for Christmas fundraising campaigns. After all, it would be a shame to be frozen out by donors who are ready to reward charities with a festive gift.

Gail Cookson is international director at WPNC

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