Ben May photo

Ben May

Marketing Manager, Charities

Charities Aid Foundation

Optimise your end of year digital fundraising campaigns

23 October 2019

It’s October already (where did summer go?) and the temperature is dipping towards single figures, which means the end of the calendar year is fast approaching.

As you know, this is the time of year when donations to charity increase.  Our UK Giving 2019 report found that November and December are the peak months for giving to charity. And data from charities that use CAF Donate shows us that in November, December and January there’s typically a 19% increase in online donations compared to other quarters of the year.

Campaigns such as Giving Tuesday, Movember, Children in Need and of course the many many Christmas appeals all contribute to this uplift in giving.

How to cut through the noise

The end of the year is a busy season for fundraisers. But it’s also equally busy for your donors. Christmas parties, visiting family, buying gifts and dare I say it, Brexit, will make it difficult to get your fundraising campaigns noticed.  So to help you out we’ve put together our top three tips to help you succeed.

1 Focus on the story

It’s October, so by now you should have the idea for your end of year campaign nailed down. But like those people who leave present buying to Christmas Eve, some of you might still be in need of some inspiration. Fear not, like the Ghost of Christmas past, I’m here to share some of the top end of year fundraising campaigns from the last three years.

Santa Forgot – Alzheimer’s Research (2016)

Back in 2016 Alzheimer's Research UK created this campaign that imagined a world in which Santa is living with the effects of dementia and has stopped delivering presents to children.

CharityComms featured a presentation by the team behind the campaign at their 2018 content strategy conference. Take a look at the slides to find out how they came up with the idea and how successful it was.


Kindness Calendar – Action for Happiness (2017)

Action for Happiness created a buzz on social media when they released their Kindness Calendar in 2017. The idea was simple – a calendar that suggested good deeds to do throughout December to spread a little joy.

Action for Happiness Kindness Calendar

BookTrust Christmas appeal (2018)

This campaign by BookTrust encouraged people to send a festive book parcel to a child who is vulnerable or in care.

The campaign may be over but the landing page is still live and open for donations. It also features a thank you card from one of the children that received a book (a great way of demonstrating impact) and it lets people know the campaign is running again in 2019.

BookTrust Christmas appeal

2 Vary the times you promote your campaign 

There are loads of studies that give advice on the best days and times to send emails and post on social media.  But at a time of year when lots of fundraising campaigns are promoted, if everyone follows this advice how can you make yours stand out?

When using digital channels such as email and social media it’s easy to run tests.

For email it’s generally accepted that the best time to send is between Tuesday and Thursday. So why not try test sending emails outside of these days, including weekends, to see if this has a positive impact on your engagement.

This equally applies to social media. In the festive period try posting at different times and use the analytics in these platforms to find out what times get most engagement.

Also take advantage of key dates during this period. Giving Tuesday (3 December), Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are all days when people may be feeling in a generous mood, so test how people respond on these days.

We’ve recently run two webinars on how charities can better use Instagram and Facebook. Check these out for more tips and advice.

3 Optimise your donation journey

You’ve come up with a great idea for your end of year campaign and the promotion is sending people to your donation web page. Well done!

Now you need to make sure it’s easy for them to donate.

When a donor or prospective donor hits donate, you don't want to distract them from the action of donating. If you can, remove the menu tab in your website header, sidebars and any other calls to action (like newsletter sign-up forms, menu tabs, etc). Feature only the key information that will help them complete the donation.

You also need to offer donors the fewest number of steps possible to complete their donation. This means including a minimum number of fields on your donation form and allowing donors to give without requiring them to log in or create an account.

The donation pages for the Santa Forgot and BookTrust Christmas appeals referenced above tick all these boxes so take a look at them for inspiration.

Make the most of your end of year fundraising

Christmas and end of year fundraising campaigns are so important. Get them right and your charity could replicate the success of the likes of Alzheimer’s Research UK. I wish you the best for your campaigns this holiday season.

You can get more helpful fundraising tips and advice direct to your inbox by signing up to our monthly fundraising round up.

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