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Stephen Cotterill: Fundraisers' innovative spirit is alive and well this Christmas

08 Dec 2020 Voices

Fundraisers rise to the Christmas campaign challenge after a tough year for charities.

For those charities looking to recoup some of the losses from a turbulent year, Christmas 2020 started early. A raft of inserts and door drops landed the first week of November as fundraisers looked to get an early edge in the seasonal marketplace. As this year’s flurry of campaigns got into full swing, it was clear that the determination and innovative spirit pervasive in the sector was alive and well.

The pandemic has thrown up challenges, but also opportunities. Without physical events, the virtual realm has come into its own. For example, Action for Children is hosting its Starry Night celebrity-studded carol concert live online at £10 a ticket, as well as its usual festive jumper campaign.

Smaller charities too have employed virtual tools to boost fundraising. With a lack resources to do big physical events, the pandemic means they have been able to expand their audience online. The Red Sky Foundation in the North East has been raising funds via one-to-one video chats with Santa at £25 a pop, while St Barnabas Hospice encouraged supporters to hold virtual Christmas-themed craft events.

Perhaps more than any other year, charity retail campaigns put in a strong showing this year as normal high street shopping habits were curtailed by restrictions in the run up to Christmas. BHF promoted a range of vintage goods online, while other charities such as WWF and the Sumatran Orangutan Society advertised ethically-sourced Covid-related products such as face masks, as well as T-shirts, tote bags and the obligatory festive socks.

Meanwhile, RNID released a Christmas dinner party game which can be bought online and which draws attention to the challenges faced by deaf people during social gatherings – virtual or otherwise. And an equal opportunities charity, The Girls’ Network, launched its first Christmas fundraising campaign, The Empowerium: The women’s empowerment marketplace – a “fake” online store with spoof products such as a glass ceiling hammer and pay gap filler.

Corporates also got in on the festive giving act, with the Xmas Party Heroes campaign asking companies to donate the unused cost of their festive parties to a charity.

A lot is riding on this festive season. With the news of a possible vaccine on the way and some relaxation of restrictions for a few days over Yuletide, charities are hoping the season of goodwill will live up to its name.

@stevejcotterill 

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