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Tis the season of goodwill…but how can charities stand out?

Christmas is a crucial fundraising opportunity for charities to tap into seasonal goodwill and raise money for the year ahead. So, how do you make your cause stand out at such a busy time? We’ve looked at some of the charities that go beyond the traditional shoe box appeals and carol concerts to maximise their fundraising potential at Christmas.

Innovative charities tap into current trends to create exciting campaigns that engage and resonate. One example is Save the Children, who has tapped into the current ‘Christmas jumper’ trend. Originally a social media phenomenon, based on people posting pictures of their ‘ugly’ and passé Christmas-themed jumpers, Save the Children has harnessed the current zeitgeist and on Friday 13 December is encouraging schools and workplaces to embrace the Christmas spirit and proudly don a ‘festive fleece’, for a small donation to the charity. The campaign has achieved huge visibility this year, because it’s a simple way for people to get involved. Also, it has great social media potential because people can easily post pictures of themselves in their jumpers and show their support for the cause.

Charities are also harnessing the Christmas spirit with more challenging physical sponsorship events. ‘Santa Runs’ have emerged over the past few years and take place across the country in the lead up to Christmas. Runners, dressed in full Father Christmas outfits, have the option to complete a 5 or 10 km race at their own pace, making this fun event accessible for all ages and abilities. The aim is to encourage as many people to take part as possible and last year at one event in Victoria Park, East London, over 2,000 people turned up dressed as Santa to raise money for various good causes.

Louise Taylor from The Brain Tumour Charity, which has a number of supporters taking part in Santa runs said: “They are a great way for supporters to fundraise in a team and the fancy dress aspect provides a novelty factor that attracts more spectators on the day and creates a really fun, festive atmosphere at the event. We’re finding it is becoming a part of many people’s Christmas traditions, whether they enter with friends, family or colleagues.”

“Although it’s an emerging trend we find that fundraisers tend to sign up once they’ve celebrated Halloween and Bonfire Night. The festive period is a busy time for us but given the Santa runs’ popularity, we always prepare for impromptu, late sign ups to these events.”

With fundraisers often taking part at the last minute, BT’s MyDonate offers a quick and easy-to-use way to collect sponsorship for these events. Not only is registration simple, but unlike other similar sites, MyDonate doesn’t charge charitable organisations a setup fee, subscription fee or commission which means 100% of the donation goes to the cause (apart from the debit or credit card charges made by the donor’s bank).

However, sponsorship isn’t the only way to harness the Christmas spirit. For millions of children across the UK, the countdown to Christmas begins when they send a letter to Santa hoping he’ll visit their house with a sack of presents. The NSPCC have tapped into this holiday tradition and come up with the perfect treat for excited children – parents can purchase a personalised letter from Santa. For a suggested donation of £5 to the NSPCC, a child will receive a fun, colourful and personalised letter, with a festive story tailored to their age.

While there’s lots of competition for charitable support at Christmas, these innovative approaches to fundraising show that by thinking beyond the traditional, charities can stand out and have real impact. No matter what the time of year it’s always important to accrue supporters, but encouraging people to embrace the Christmas spirit and fundraise in a fun and original way allows charities to build their support base and create potential long term donors.

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