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Updated in August 2023

Everyone’s in the throes of Christmas appeal planning. So I thought it may be useful to throw in some of the “best bang for your buck ways” to raise more money for your charity this Christmas.

1. Review your Christmas offers

I don’t know why but some charities seem to feel that people will give just because it’s Christmas.

This is partly true. Donors will give – but you still need to develop a compelling offer.

A lot of the letters I see around Christmas time go something like this:

Please give $50 to help disadvantaged people in time for Christmas.


This is too general. What sort of disadvantaged people? How exactly will the gift be used to help them?

Even if donors can guess because of the type of work you do (eg. the name of your charity is War Victims Society) it’s not a good idea to make them work too hard. Because other charities may well be sending them really strong offers. Like these:

$25 to buy a Christmas gift for a child with cancer. Gift needed by 12 December so we can purchase and distribute gifts.

$50 to ensure the suicide prevention helpline keeps operating over the Christmas holidays. Because rates of suicide and depression skyrocket during this period due to family and/ or financial stresses. Please give by 22 December so we can keep the lines open.

The wording’s not perfect but you get the idea.

Even if people are more predisposed to giving at this time of year, the rules for good offers still apply.

  • Simple to understand
  • Tangible
  • Specific
  • With a deadline.

What sounds more compelling to you? $50 for a suicide prevention helpline to keep people from killing themselves over Christmas? Or $50 to help disadvantaged people?

Remember that everybody is trying to get a bit of the Christmas charity dollar. So a strong offer is crucial to differentiate yourself from the competition. (We can help you with this if needed!)

2. Consider sending an extra reminder letter

Instead of sending just one Christmas appeal letter, consider sending two.

Send the first one sometime in November with your brilliantly constructed offer. Then send a reminder in December.

I know from clients who have done this that the second letter can bring in an extra 15-30% in income.

After all, your donors may have intended to give but not gotten around to it. Or have misplaced your original letter.

So the reminder gives them a little nudge – and you raise more money.

3. Consider all channels

Remember to include email as part of your campaign. Here’s also where a strong offer is important. With email open rates declining, you need something really compelling to get those fingers clicking on your links. Although it’s getting tougher, many charities are still raising money through emails.

And don’t just send emails asking for money. Develop a series of at least 5 emails and make them a mix of hard asks for funds and then share a story or some heartwarming pictures or parts of an interview with a case worker. Give donors some love and delight and some joy as well as showing them the need and asking for their generosity.

And when you send donors to your website, please have a dedicated Christmas appeal page for them. Truly, it isn’t hard to do this and it makes the giving process a lot easier for your donors.

Also, consider calling some donors who have either given a high average gift or given multiple times. Take the opportunity to thank them for past gifts, wish them a Merry Christmas… and ask them to support your appeal.

4. Get it out early

Okay, this may sound obvious. But I do know of non-profits that have left their Christmas appeal letters too late. Like lodgment happening the week before Christmas Day.

Sorry, you’re way behind. Remember, your donors probably give to multiple charities. Those charities have been mailing, emailing or calling those donors since November. Perhaps even October.

One charity I worked for questioned whether September was too early to send a Christmas appeal! (I think so – although we never tested it so you never know…)

I know you’re busy – but schedule ahead of time. Remember your suppliers – like writers, designers, printers and mailhouses – may well be producing multiple appeals for charities besides yours. Give them enough time to get your job done right.

Note: the only time you can get away with lodgment the week before Christmas is if that letter is a follow up to an earlier Christmas appeal letter. But even that is really cutting things fine.


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