It may still be summer, but now’s the time to get started if you want to maximise your fundraising income this December.
We know that more people give at Christmas time and they’re more generous, so it’s an amazing opportunity to ask for donations. But you need to put in place tactics and messaging that can cut through the festive noise, plus systems and strategies to help you raise as much as possible.
By doing a few crucial things to prepare now, you can make sure you’re all set for success when you kick off your Christmas campaign in a few months’ time. Here are 7 things to do and think about:
1. Find the right campaign hook
It’s all too easy to get carried away with an exciting creative concept, only to find that it doesn’t deliver donations when your campaign goes live. So, keep things simple and start by getting to the heart of exactly why your organisation needs support this Christmas. Think about things like:
- What’s the unique and timely hook that will make your ask stand out in people’s jam-packed inboxes? Eg, last year, Refuge asked for help to give families in their refuges a magical Christmas, by funding food and presents.
- What compelling, emotive stories can you share to show people the impact their donations will have? Eg, last year, Stonewall sent an email from a volunteer for their info service, describing the huge number of requests for help they receive over winter.
- How can you make it feel urgent? Do you need money to support people over Christmas, or to keep services or projects going in the new year? Eg, last year, Comic Relief asked for help to support those hit hardest by the cost of living crisis through a tough winter.
Come up with a few clear, compelling framings for your Christmas appeal and test them out on a small scale first. You could run a small Facebook ads campaign to find out what people respond to best, before developing your most successful messaging more fully for every channel.
2. Optimise your donation pages
On average, just one in five people who land on charity donation pages go on to complete a donation, so there’s huge potential for improvement. Focus on optimising your donation pages and post-giving journeys now, and you’ll reap the rewards at Christmas. Increasing your conversion rate by just a few per cent could result in thousands of pounds of extra income over time.
We’ve written before about how to make your donation pages work harder. Start by making sure you’re applying best practice to keep donation journeys as clear, smooth and simple as possible. Then run ongoing A/B testing to improve performance further. This is something we’ve worked on with lots of charities, so let us know if you need advice or help to get started.
3. Ask for money for specific things
It’s always good practice to give people tangible things their donation will help fund. At Christmas this is even more important, as you’re competing with lots of other causes and spending priorities. So, take time now to figure out what your key cost examples should be.
Offering people the chance to buy a gift, meal or winter clothing works really well for charities that support individuals over Christmas. For service-based organisations, asking people to fund packages of support can work well too. The crucial thing is that it’s something specific which will make a clear difference. If your tech set-up allows, give people the option to donate as a feelgood Christmas gift for a friend or loved one, and send them an email explaining their impact.
If your organisation can’t easily quantify its work in this way, don’t worry. A single key, tangible example can work really well. You just need to find something sufficiently compelling at a price point that works for your audience. For example, last year Crisis asked for £29.07 – the amount it costs to provide one person with a range of support over Christmas. Alternatively, you could focus on one big headline target that will help you achieve a larger goal. For example, ‘We need to raise £50,000 to achieve XYZ next year. Will you donate £30 now to help us hit our target?’.
4. Get on top of your data
Good data helps you make better decisions about where to invest your budget and time. It can tell you what’s working well and what you could improve, and help you raise more money by showing what content and messaging supporters respond to.
Before your Christmas campaign launches, make sure you’ve got a system in place to record key performance data across your website, emails, ads and social media. Look at previous years’ results and charity sector data to set benchmarks you can measure against.
If you’ve just switched to GA4, make sure that:
- your set-up is working well
- you know how to get the most out of the new features
- you’re tracking everything you need for your Christmas KPIs.
Just get in touch if you need support with this. We can offer team training on GA4, help with configuration and event tracking, and create custom Christmas dashboards for quick and easy reporting.
5. Plan your emails well in advance
First, use previous years’ data as a guide to work out how many emails you’ll need to send to hit your email fundraising target. By planning your emails early, you can make sure you have plenty of time to gather compelling stories, statistics and examples, and create any extra content you need.
Look for hooks you can use so there’s always a reason why you’re writing to your supporters. These could be significant dates like 1st December, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and national days like Giving Tuesday or Human Rights Day. Think about things that are happening in your organisation too, such as project news, anniversaries or campaign milestones. But also, be ready to be reactive! We’ve seen quick and timely fundraising emails in response to breaking news perform really well.
Don’t make every email a fundraising ask. Involve your supporters by giving them varied ways to help, like signing a petition, answering a poll or survey, or sending a Christmas message to someone you support. You can then follow these actions with a soft donate ask to appeal to people when they’re most engaged in your work. (For more on the potential of these kinds of ‘cultivation’ emails to boost your overall fundraising revenue, see this fascinating blog from M+R).
6. Find prompt amounts that deliver
The cost of living crisis is likely to affect who can donate this Christmas, and how much they give. Our previous email testing found that using lower donation prompts delivered more gifts and money overall, especially when we followed up with a regular gift upsell on the thank you page. But we’ve also seen average gift and total income figures increase when we used higher prompts for high value givers.
Segment your audience based on their giving history, and run tests with each segment to find the price points that are likely to work best for your Christmas campaign. You can then keep testing once your festive fundraising is underway to check that these amounts are still delivering the best results.
7. Get ready to test everything
Okay, so we’ve mentioned testing a few times already… that’s because it can make a massive difference if you optimise every aspect of your Christmas fundraising. By making small improvements across everything you’re doing, you can bring in lots more money overall.
Design a Christmas testing strategy that covers all your activities, including Facebook and other paid ads, sign-up pages, emails, donation forms and thank you pages. A/B test copy, images, design and UX, starting with the tests that are likely to deliver the biggest gains. Try variants that are very different, and don’t assume you know what will work – you might be surprised by the results. When you have big wins in one area, look for ways to test and apply that learning in others. For example, if a Facebook ad delivers lots of donations, you could see whether similar wording increases conversions on your donation page.
You can learn the essentials of A/B testing by watching our webinar and reading this blog. Or if you need more support to plan and deliver a comprehensive testing and optimisation strategy, we’d love to talk about it – just send us an email.