Why you have to do a Christmas appeal online

Action For Children Feature

The decorations are up on Oxford Street in London, supermarkets are stocking mince pies and Christmas sandwiches have started appearing in your favourite lunch chains. Like it or not, the festive season is truly upon us.

Plenty of charities have their Christmas campaigns well underway already, like Action for Children’s Secret Santa and Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Christmas Stocking Appeal.


Why you need to do an online appeal

There are two reasons that Christmas is a key time for digital fundraising.

First, people give to charity at Christmas when they wouldn’t give any other time of year. That means a large, cold audience that was previously inaccessible to you are now open to messaging about charitable giving so the same amount of resource applied to digital marketing around Christmas will raise much more money than at any other point in the year.  

Alternative gifts

Another reason you’ve got to be in the online game is that people in their millions are looking for present ideas online.

Nobody wants to be the person who buys socks for the fifth year running – we all want to be known as the person who gets cool and interesting gifts.

So if your charity has an alternative gifts shop (where people can buy gifts for those in need as a present to a loved one), Christmas is your time to shine.

Check out Concern Worldwide UK and of course Oxfam Unwrapped for great examples.


What you need in place

If you’re going to do an online Christmas appeal, here’s what you need in place.

A festive landing page

Remember, a cold audience will primarily be on your site to get someone a Christmas present, not to learn all about your work, o don’t just use your normal donation page – make it festive to show them they’re in the right place.

Low-price shopping list

Festive visitors are unlikely to be major donors – expect a lower average gift than you usually get via your website.

Make sure your shopping list (“£3 will help us provide X” kind of thing) has lower price points than your usual donation page to cater to that audience.

Immediate impact

Face it – you may never hear from a lot of these Christmas donors again Leave them with a good, immediate impression. Give them a dedicated thank you page right after they donate that shows them the immediate impact of their donation.

Include an image of a service user if you can. Re-state the shopping list text and show them what they’ve just made happen.

An email journey for new donors

For those that do want to stay in touch, make it easy and desirable for them to do so.

Don’t just use the standard ‘Tick this box to stay in touch’ text. Make it appealing. Say ‘Tick this box and we’ll show you how far your money went’ or ‘Tick here and we’ll email you more stories about how we’re changing the world’.

The right mindset

There are a few key attitudes that the festive digital marketer needs to have before you can deliver the outputs.

You won’t struggle to be heard

What’s more, the fact that more charities are asking doesn’t mean you’ll struggle to get a piece of the pie  – it means there’s a bigger pie to go round.

You can learn for the rest of the year

Running a Christmas campaign online allows you to apply those lessons on messaging, tracking and reporting into campaign your run during rest of the year. If nobody gave at Christmas, it could be because the connection with the impact your charity has isn’t clear.

That’s something to address in ‘peacetime’. Get the whole charity and unpick your messaging, your landing pages and what other charities are doing.


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Matt Collins is managing director at digital marketing agency, Platypus Digital, and tweets @charitychap