Winter World Cup means charities must plan Xmas now

John EIt’s World Cup year again – but UK fans hoping for a summer festival of football will have to shelve barbecues and garden parties.

For the first time the tournament is scheduled to take place at the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, because this time it’s kicking off in Qatar at the end of November.

To be precise, World Cup fever will be with us from the first game on November 21 – if not before – to the final at Lusail Iconic Stadium on December 18.

And, coming so close to Christmas, this poses serious problems for charities that would normally use the weeks leading up to December 25 for major fundraising campaigns.

With England already booked on the plane to Qatar, and Scotland and Wales vying for a place in the finals via the play-offs, huge attention will be focused on the football.

This could give traditional Christmas charity campaigns the red card for several reasons:

⦁ Fundraising messages may well be crowded out as World Cup stories dominate TV, online channels and newspapers.

⦁ Response rates to all campaigns could take a hit as consumers focus their attention elsewhere.

⦁ Airtime rates have the potential to rocket, especially if one of the home nations goes deep into the tournament.

It’s also worth noting that England and Northern Ireland’s women’s teams have made the European Championships that will be held on these shores during July, potentially extending the build-up to the men’s World Cup later in the year.

So what can charities do to ensure their fundraising goals aren’t chalked off by the football?

There are actually some top tactics that can help tackle this problem. Here are ten things charities can consider doing now to kick off a Christmas fundraising strategy with a difference:

1) Media planning is key. What months can you own outside the normal Christmas period? Think about going on air earlier with your message to beat the rush.

2) Consider also bringing media spend forward to cheaper summer months – particularly if your target donors are older and more likely to be at home while families are away on holiday.

3) Not everyone likes football! Revisit channels you can use to reach non-football fans, including cold mail and door-drops.

4) Online is still a good option mid-tournament, with pre-planned templates and messages helping you to run ads at the right time.

5) While media rates may rise they could also drop like a stone if England and other home nations fail early. Have your ads shot and ready to roll to take advantage.

6) The feel-good factor that comes with a decent tournament run provides the ideal time to push corporate social responsibility messaging and community partnerships. Consider these as new strands of your campaign if they don’t already feature.

7) Include football in your fundraising efforts. This year, Santa might switch to wearing soccer kits for fun-run marketing rather than the usual red-and-white gear.

8) Remember to take a regional approach as not all the home nations are involved in the tournament. Only one of Scotland or Wales might join England – Ukraine is the other nation in with a shout of winning the play-offs to reach Qatar.

9) Cast one eye to the new year when media rates should return to normal levels, perhaps developing resolution-themed ads.

10) Consider a creative link between your charity and the stars of the show. It’s worked for England and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford with his anti-hunger campaigns. Who else might be a profitable personality to feature in your fundraising?

There are clearly many things charities can do to avoid a festive fundraising slump. The key thing is not to be caught out. Review your 2022 tactics now and make new plans if you think you’ve taken your eye of the ball – there’s still time to play with.

John Eversley is managing director – agency at WPNC

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