My mum has a recipe for Christmas pudding that was handed down to her from my gran. A Christmas in my family wouldn’t be the same without that pudding and for the purposes of this blog (and a slightly dodgy analogy) I’d like to say that Christmas wouldn’t be as good without it.
For most of the charities I work with Christmas is the biggest appeal of the year and the time when words like integration and amplification get banded around as donor acquisition, development, campaigns and brand look for common ground to create something bigger than the sum of its parts.
But before you worry about any of the big glamorous stuff it’s vital that you think about the most important bit – the pudding. Or, in this case, those donors who are already giving generously (or who used to give but haven’t in recent years).
The backbone/pudding of any Christmas fundraising has to be the warm appeal.
I like to think we know a bit about solid Christmas appeals as last year the work we did for UNICEF, Christian Aid, and Shelter were either the best appeal ever or target smashing.
They all made good use of the available data (in selections, personalisation and prompting) and all were based on thoroughly researched, heartbreaking stories.
Like my mum’s Christmas pudding, the most successful appeals all followed a tried and tested recipe which I’d like to share with you today.
The Main Appeal – this is the ‘base stock’ of the whole thing. Personalise it as much as you can. They should feel that making a gift to you has completed their Christmas. Use it to increase the last gift, reactivate lapsed donors and get cash gifts from the Direct Debit file.
The Mid Value Appeal – this is the ‘inside track’ approach to the main appeal. You’re asking for more, so it’s important to give a bit more – either in rationale for giving, trinkets from the field or special incentives for their generous giving over the years.
The Reminder – Dropping about 1 month after the main appeal this is your chance to take a slightly different tack to the main appeal (for those folk that respond to different triggers).
The Thank You Letter – Don’t let this be a bland ‘administrative device’. Make it special. Pour love on the donor for giving at such an important time of the year. They’ll remember it and give again.
The Follow Up – It’s likely you’ll acquire new donors in the run up to Christmas so it’s important to have a plan to get the all-important second gift. An appeal in January is a good idea. Remind the donor they gave and talk to them about how much more they could do by giving again.
Oh… and I’m dead keen to test a double reminder (just before Christmas), if it’s something you’ve tried, I’d love to hear about it.