How to market your seasonal fundraising events for maximum effect

Dan Jubb
  • Dan Jubb
  • Head of Brand and Strategy

Christmas has always been a time for giving and it’s long been associated with charitable giving. This is a time of year when people’s thoughts turn to good causes and amid all the conspicuous consumption and jollity, there’s a genuine desire to help others.

With this in mind, many charities choose to hold seasonal fundraising events in the run-up to Christmas. There’s plenty of scope for creativity but how do you make your charity’s seasonal fundraising stand out from the others? Here are some tips on marketing for maximum effect from The Graphic Design House.

Do the twist

The third sector continues to grow more competitive as more organisations and causes jostle to get attention and those all-important funds. And while Christmas can be a very effective time for fundraising, it’s also a saturated market when it comes to charity events. This means that you need to use all your ingenuity and creativity to make sure that your fundraising event stands out.

What’s the twist to your event?

Adding a twist to your event doesn’t mean that you have to come up with a really big new idea. It can just a be a question of taking a slightly different approach to something that’s fairly standard. For example, a sponsored Santa Dash fun run is always a crowd pleaser, but what’s unusual about yours?

Perhaps one of those taking part may be an octogenarian who only took up running at the age of 70 but who now runs every day of the year. Use that in your marketing campaign. A photo of 88-year-old Shirley, dressed in her Father Christmas costume, could be what you need to get extra attention.

Get building

‘Anticipation is half the fun!’ It’s a cliché because it’s true. The more anticipation you build in the lead up to your event, the more motivated people are to take part and make donations. Social media is a brilliant way to build anticipation as people can post pictures of how they’re preparing alongside amusing updates and progress reports. Part of the anticipation building on social media can include the kind of useful information that will encourage attendance. For example, give details of things like refreshments, baby changing facilities and disabled toilets.

Give support to your participants online, too – tips, encouragement and date reminders all work well on channels such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Say thank you

Don’t wait till the event is over and the funds counted before you say THANK YOU. Saying thank you during the lead up to your event and during the event itself creates real impetus for supporters and participants to do that little bit more.

Don’t limit the ways in which you say thank you post-event, either. It will help to build awareness and empathy for your next event. Remember that people access information in different ways. Use social media and your website, but also think of opportunities like local press and radio, as well as posters and banners at your charity headquarters and charity shops.

Make your message matter

When it comes to seasonal fundraising the same rules apply as for all other activities:

Keep it simple.

Whether it’s a special Christmas event or a seasonal message designed to boost donations, stick to a single, strong message or event. Don’t tag on irrelevant information or use it to flag other activities.

A good message, simply told is highly effective. Amplify it through all the channels available, such as social media, local media and charity shop windows. That way it’s not only memorable and but a simple message makes it easier for your audience to take action.

Set the tone

Getting the tone right is very important for charities. It can be tricky at times, as you may well be dealing with difficult subject matter. At Christmas, your responsibility to set the right tone is ramped up further, so it’s worth spending some time on getting it right.

Whatever the work of your charity, employing a ‘feel good factor’ is nearly always effective and is particularly apt at Christmas. Focus on the positive, rather than negative messages. Talk about your achievements and the ways in which you have changed lives. Then make your audience feel good about taking part – show them that their actions, however small, have a real and positive impact and can make the world a better place.

Big budget v grassroots

If you’re a large charity with a decent marketing budget, it can pay enormous dividends for you to work with a dynamic creative agency on your seasonal campaign. You’ll get the benefit of professional creative input and a greater wealth of ideas to draw from and this will help you to develop the most effective message.

A design agency with third sector expertise will also give you professional and original design concepts and social media management. These have huge benefits and can do a tremendous amount to get your charity to the forefront of people’s minds.

However, even if your budget is limited, you still have a tremendous resource available: your grassroots supporters. Make sure you use all of your communication channels to generate that grassroots support and get your message circulating as widely as possible. If you do have a big budget, your grassroots support is just as vital to a successful project. Using both is a dynamic formula for successful campaigning.

Christmas is often the most successful season for fundraising. The opportunities are there, along with the giving spirit of the public. However, like all the best projects, the planning is paramount. Is everything in place? If not, you can use some of our tips for final tweaks. If not – well, you can learn a lot from this year’s event. And don’t forget to bookmark this blog for when you start on next year’s seasonal planning.