Some people start gearing up to Christmas in December, some are raring to go the day after Halloween. My personal tradition is a version of something called ‘Whamageddon’ – the season has started just as soon as you first hear “Last Christmas” playing in public. And, seeing as I was Whammed early this week, I’d say it’s plenty appropriate to start thinking about Christmas and the holiday season, and what it means to charities.
So, pull up a comfy chair and something with cinnamon in it, and let’s start thinking in anticipation for advent next week about what we want to see for the charity sector between now and the big day itself.
Recognition for charities in Christmas ads
The holiday season puts people in mind of charity, with last Christmas’ data telling us that almost two-thirds of the public (64%) hear more from charities during this time of year. We’ve spoken during a Christmas past about the impact of charity partnerships with the big supermarkets and department stores, giving another dimension to their annual output of tear-jerkers and heart-warmers that we are left thinking about for years to come. These partnerships work brilliantly, with Age UK’s ‘no one should have no one’ advert alongside John Lewis nearly doubling public awareness of this campaign for years after.
This year we’ve already seen many of the big adverts already, and it’s a shame to see that more don’t have a charity element involved. The John Lewis advert features a song which is to be released as a charity single – but otherwise it’s been slim pickings from the major players in this space. We’re really pleased, however, to see Shelter taking the reins themselves and sharing their own ad. Not only is it a masterclass in using storytelling in marketing, but is a hopeful sign that charities may be able to make a splash on their own without needing corporate partners – though the need for huge creative costs may keep this from being a reality for many non-profits.
Charities often find themselves subject to more demand over the Christmas period. Last year, one in four members of the public told us that they were more likely to need the help of charities over the Christmas period. But, despite the long-reaching effects of the cost-of-living crisis we also anticipate festive gift-giving staying strong. Over half of the public send charity Christmas cards (52%), and we’ve seen the number of people who prioritise goods that come with a charitable donation has stayed consistent over the past several years.
Festive merchandise is sure to be a winner for charities who want to reward their supporters for their donations, both as gifts or for themselves. T-shirts, mugs, or holiday-themed accessories not only generate additional funds but also serve as walking advertisements for your cause. And as a side-note, the potential influx of donations will require that you keep your donation platforms user-friendly and optimised across all devices. With many people doing their holiday shopping online, it's crucial that the process for donating remains as seamless as online stores. Implementing a hassle-free experience increases the likelihood of spontaneous donations, and is becoming a preferred method among young people.
Every charity has a unique story to tell. Using the holiday season as an opportunity to share compelling narratives will resonate with your audience, who at this time of year are keen to listen. Highlighting the impact of your organization's work and emphasising the positive change donors can bring is a given, but it’s also an opportunity to create connections that last.
Take the time to express gratitude to your supporters through thank-you messages for donors, highlighting the specific impact of their contributions. Consider sending holiday cards or emails expressing appreciation for their ongoing support. Showing gratitude strengthens the bond between your charity and its donors and ensures that the spirit of giving doesn't need to end on December 25th. Continue engaging with your new supporters, sharing updates on how their contributions are making a difference and maintain communication throughout the year.