Six innovative online tactics that have inspired us this Christmas

This Christmas, with people’s budgets more stretched than ever, charities have had to work hard to grab people’s attention and inspire them to donate.

As a result, we’ve seen organisations thinking differently and using seasonal hooks to try new tactics and do bold, clever, creative things online.

From stunning short films that pack an emotional punch, to ingenious fundraising mechanisms and inventive responses to festive hashtags on TikTok.

Here are six inspiring ideas that have got our team talking…

1. Turning tired festive tropes on their head

What it is
Shelter’s winter appeal film is a genuine tearjerker that plays on Christmas advertising tropes to pack a powerful emotional punch.

It centres around a young girl who thinks she’ll get what she wants from Santa if she’s ‘as good as gold’. Cue footage in the style of a feel-good festive ad that sees her throwing herself into good deeds, from helping a neighbour to giving up her seat on the bus.

But the upbeat music fades as the girl wakes up on Christmas morning in a grim, dingy room with her mum and baby brother, their possessions piled high around the walls. ‘But I was so good…’ she whispers, heartbroken to still be homeless.

The film ends with the shocking statistic that 131,000 children will be living in temporary accommodation this Christmas, and a call to donate to Shelter.

Why we love it

We’ve seen in our engagement tools just how powerful an unexpected pivot can be. In this film, the sudden twist from joyful festive content to heartbreaking reality is so well done, it genuinely feels like a shock to the gut. This emotive video is sure to have people reaching for their wallets.

2. Turning supporters into sellers

What it is

A big part of Choose Love’s Christmas fundraising model is their shop. This gives people the chance to buy critical supplies and support for refugees, either from themselves or as gifts on behalf of friends and family.

Until now, supporters could shop online or visit the Choose Love store in London, where physical versions of many items, such as coats, boots, nappies and sleeping bags are on display. But this year, in a brilliant move, they’ve brought supporters into the centre of things, giving people the resources they need to host a Choose Love shop of their own.

As well as setting up an online store and selecting products to ‘sell’ via Tiltify, fundraisers can create their own physical ‘shops’ using things they’ve got at home, or have bought to donate to charity, as display items.

Why we love it

At Forward Action, we’re all about making supporters feel like part of your team and this initiative puts them right at the heart of the campaign. It gives people an engaging new way to share a cause they care about with their networks, and the warm glow of making a difference for refugees at the toughest time of year. This shrewd move is an innovative expansion of the community fundraising space, and a neat way to combine online and offline fundraising.

3. Harnessing TikTok shopping trends


Link in our bio to our online shop! 🎁 Our modern fleet of lifeboats across 238 stations are ready to go to the rescue thanks to amazing supporters like you. Every time you buy something from our RNLI shops, you are supporting our lifesaving work. Thanks to you, our lifeboat crews help 45 people on average every day. #RNLI #CharityShop #SavingLivesAtSea #Lifeboats #ChristmasGift #GiftIdeas #ChristmasGiftIdea

♬ original sound – Moto Mason

What it is

With the cost of living crisis making charity shopping a popular option, hashtags like #charityshophaul (338 million views) and #charityshopfinds (254 million views) are taking off on TikTok. Jumping on one of these, Mind takes followers on a shop tour, highlighting fantastic finds and potential gifts, including an art deco photo frame and some green metallic cowboy boots.

The RNLI offers a tongue-in-cheek take on the #christmasgiftidea hashtag with a video entitled ‘Cute gift ideas for any lifeboat obsessed person’. After flashing up photos of a model lifeboat (£10) and a lifeboat crew bear (£12), they show a full size lifeboat cutting through the waves, with a £2.45+ million pricetag. The post explains that every time someone buys from an RNLI shop, they’re helping to keep the charity’s fleet of over 200 lifeboats afloat and ready to save lives.

Oxfam takes advantage of the trend for videos about choosing a Secret Santa #GiftForColleagues, with a reel suggesting items from its shops that’s racked up over 45,000 views. The items are presented with neat little descriptors playing on common office personas, such as a scarf with the text: ‘For the one who’s always cold’.

Why we love it

Time and again, we’ve seen how responding fast to topical opportunities can help charities win cut-through for their campaigns. It’s not always easy to keep up with trends and strike the right note on TikTok, but these organisations have managed it. By using TikTok effectively to promote their shops, they’re reaching new, younger audiences and driving real world action.

4. Using star power to make a hard-hitting point

What it is

Kudos to the clever team behind this chilling little masterpiece from the Make My Money Matter campaign.

Framed as an end-of-year message to shareholders, the video stars Oscar-winner Olivia Colman as ‘Oblivia Coalmine’ (see what they did there?), a smug, greedy, ruthless fossil fuel industry boss.

Thanking us for our ‘bumper support’ in 2023, Coleman explains with glee how billions of pounds worth of our pensions are invested in oil and gas, fuelling the climate crisis and a ‘warmer, snugglier future’ for us all.

Text on screen then invites us to take action, with the campaign’s website hosting a petition to pressure pension funds to divest from fossil fuels.

Why we love it

Celebrity supporters can help your message spread further, but it’s even more powerful to do something surprising like this. Creatively, the film is pitch perfect. Colman’s compelling performance is strangely charming yet genuinely terrifying. The script is simultaneously hard-hitting, and packed with dark humour and climate puns.

The film feels like it’s primarily powerful PR for the campaign, but it will undoubtedly motivate a lot of people to sign up too.

5. Subverting Spotify Wrapped


The most anticipated wrapped of them all… After a long year of making cruel policies, we made this Government a summary of all their work in 2023 (and gave them some suggestions for 2024). #2023wrapped #ukgovt #refugees #humanrights #spotifywrapped

♬ Stick Season MC4D Remix – MC4D

What it is

In the last few years, ‘Spotify Wrapped’ has grown into an inescapable online phenomenon. The music streaming platform sends users an animated end-of-year summary of their listening habits, including top tracks, genres, favourite artists and minutes spent listening.

Right now, people are sharing their Spotify stats all over social media, and memes and spoofs abound too. So, it takes a lot to cut through the noise, but Freedom From Torture have done it with their own version: The UK Government’s 2023 Wrapped.

Focusing on the government’s immigration policies, their clever TikTok reel mimics Spotify’s structure but instead of music choices, it’s packed with hard-hitting examples of anti-refugee action. It even ends with a list of recommendations for a more compassionate 2024.

Why we love it

It’s been a grim year for UK asylum policy, and it can sometimes feel hard to keep up with all the ways in which the government is making refugees’ lives harder. This TikTok reel is a brilliantly creative way to catalogue key actions and hold politicians to account – which we know is incredibly motivating for supporters.

Freedom From Torture have managed to ride a hugely popular social media trend, while also creating something smart, distinct, impactful and different.

6. Making supporters the heroes

Screenshot from Action For Children’s donation page.

Action for Children’s Be a Secret Santa campaign isn’t new this year, but we wanted to give it a shout out as the concept is so powerful. With the message that ‘Children across the UK need a Secret Santa like you’, the charity invites people to donate to fund things like warm clothes, hot food, or a special present for a vulnerable child.

Why we love it

It’s always good practice to give people tangible examples of what their money could fund and showing how it will make an impact in the world. This campaign not only does that, but by using a Secret Santa framing, it makes the donor the hero of the story and creates a direct link between them and a vulnerable child who needs their support. What’s more, the donate page is really appealing and easy to use – a must for maximising conversions.