Christmas appeals are coming to town

christmas items

Christmas appeals are coming to town

Many charities launch some of their most touching campaigns to coincide with Christmas. But in an age where billion-pound corporates also seek to capitalize on seasonal sentimentality with their own emotive ads, do charity appeals seem saccharine?
Rita Skanis


As the festive season is now truly under way, I am sat here shedding tears over some very emotional, warm and often thought-provoking Christmas adverts and campaigns launched by charities this year. Interestingly enough, none of the corporate ads with their multimillion budgets have had the same effect on me recently and they certainly didn’t make me feel like shopping with them more than I otherwise would. So, what is it that makes charity Christmas appeals so special and moving?

Needless to say, campaigning around Christmas is both very important and beneficial for charities; but if you’re still sceptical, you should read nfpSynergy’s blog from earlier this year. Those who followed the Top Tips from the blog know that having a clear message yet being creative at Christmas is key which is something I found Guide Dogs and WWF mastering this time, in contrasting ways, however.

Both are one-minute short animated video clips accompanied by voiceover narration. Guide Dogs tell us the story of Henry the puppy who dreams of being a reindeer guiding Santa through his Christmas journey but instead comes to guide a person who needs him more than any Santa’s sleigh. The message here is clear: sponsor a dog who would then be able to support a person with sight loss. The emphasis, however, is placed on the puppy and cuteness levels exceed all imaginable limits. 


Shifting the narrative from blindness to animals has allowed Guide Dogs to reach the highest awareness and existing support levels of any disability charity we prompt- 17% more awareness and 7% more support than their nearest rival.[1] The ad certainly has a lot of potential to attract new donors who would like to support people with sight loss while getting regular ‘pupdates’ and photos of puppies they’d sponsor as a bonus.


On the other hand, WWF approach the season from a different angle. While we normally associate Christmas with magic, happiness and love, WWF counter such image through their ad that demonstrates a rather dire reality where animals have to escape wildfires and people destroying entire ecosystems. To address this, WWF offer to sponsor (‘adopt’) an animal in a fashion similar to Guide Dogs’ scheme to protect their future and be part of the generation that is still able to save a disappearing world. It is their outspoken yet effective way of alarming the public of existing environmental issues that can leave hardly anyone indifferent in the season of giving (I actually just signed up myself). 

Those are of course not the only examples of brilliant Christmas advertising that the third sector presented this year. From a very heart-warming ‘Alternative Christmas advert’, as its creators call it, that seeks to raise funds for Make a Wish and Age UK, to a variety of more traditional appeals, there are a number of important messages that charities need to pick up. Emotional storytelling is an effective way of engaging with the public and raising awareness around the issues that charities are working on. Regardless of whether supporters choose to Stock the Sleigh for RSPCA, donate their outerwear to the homeless, or buy charity Christmas cards to get themselves in the Christmas spirit as quickly as drinking mulled wine, opening advent calendars or starting annual Home Alone marathons would, charities from all areas can benefit from an amazing opportunity to tell their stories and successfully raise funds for the causes they work on at this wonderful time of the year.


[1] “Please indicate whether you have heard of the following charities and organisations” and “Please tick those charities you would consider yourself to be a supporter”, Source: Charity Awareness Monitor, Oct 19, nfpSynergy | 1,000 adults 16+, Britain


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