Season of Goodwill
With Christmas fast approaching, Parish Fundraising Manager, Carol Ward, reflects on how the ‘season of goodwill’ can sometimes bring additional fundraising opportunities.
The evenings drawing in; seasonal adverts from all the top retail names; town centre ‘lights switch on’ celebrations – all of these can mean only one thing: Christmas is coming …
Christmas Day, and the lead up to it can present additional challenges to many people. Shopping for Christmas presents, wrapping and delivering them to the right people before 25 December can be a major task (especially if you are part of a large and busy family). Writing Christmas cards (or maybe getting others to write their Christmas cards) can also be a challenging task. And those hosting the Christmas meal may need to resort to precision planning to make sure all the required items are bought, prepared, cooked and served at exactly the right time!
However, Christmas can also be a time of extraordinary generosity. The Salvation Army relies on the fact that a lot of its annual fundraising income is raised in the 3 months prior to Christmas. This could possibly be as a result of the Salvation Army (annual) Christmas appeal. Or maybe, it’s because it’s the time of year when people start to consider their blessings and how fortunate they are in so many ways.
Lots of charities also run fundraising events at this time of year. The Church Urban Fund (CUF) and Southwark Cathedral are running sponsored SleepOuts; Samaritans Purse continue with Operation Christmas Child (my daughter, who remembers taking part in this when she was young, has just started this tradition with her own children aged one year and three years). Christmas jumpers, Elvie Selfies and virtual presents (where donations are made to charities in lieu of gifts (or cards) – the list is endless.
And it is this acceptance of fundraising, and in some cases the need to take part and belong in the lead up to Christmas Day, that makes this an interesting time for parishes, especially those actively involved in fundraising campaigns. With this in mind, make sure you have information about your fundraising campaign readily available to hand out to visitors who may only visit your church at this time of year. This may not close any ‘funding shortfall’ but it will help raise awareness of what is going on.
Colourful plans of the proposed scheme, with photos that chart the progress to date, can help to draw people into what you are doing. Hand-outs should, ideally, be visually striking and inspiring – colourful with pictures and photos and not too many words – with information on ‘how to donate’ clearly marked. This makes it as easy as possible for those who wish to leave a gift to do so.
Include this information in your pew sheet (if used) as well and think about supplying a donation envelope (similar to those used for visiting guests) with a Gift Aid declaration to be completed (to make the most of the opportunity!) and left at the church. This technique can sometimes elicit an immediate response.
The same information on your church website (if you have one), or in e-newsletters (if you send them) with links back to an online–giving page will help to keep interested parties informed.
If you already have a JustGiving page, have a look at their Christmas offering. They are offering a Facebook promotion to any charity launching a Campaign Page with #lifechangers in the story and raising £500 before the 30th November 2016 – please do read the T&C’s if you are interested in their offer!
If you are not already registered with JustGiving, it may be worth checking out an offer from the National Churches Trust who are giving, churches, chapels and meeting houses the opportunity to join JustGiving for FREE. This gives access to the whole JustGiving platform, and saves the usual £15 a month subscription fee. Churches that already have a JustGiving subscription are also eligible to take part, although fees already charged will not be refunded.
And finally, another top tip:
Parishes who are planning to fundraise next year may wish to look at The Big Give and their annual Christmas Challenge. Running for 4 days (Tuesday 29 November to Friday 2 December this year but applications are now closed), the Christmas Challenge is the UK’s biggest on-line match funding campaign, helping UK-registered charities raise funds for their cause. The match funding comes from a variety of sources including commitments from a charity’s own key supporters as well as the Big Give ‘Champions’. The Christmas Challenge page features a ‘filter by category’ (including ‘religious’ to help donors zone in to their area of interest). The Big Give also run other campaigns throughout the year so why not consider registering your parish on their website to help engage a wider audience for your fundraising.
Carol Ward is the Parish Fundraising Manager for the London Diocesan Fund. For further help on fundraising check out Fund My Church.You can also follow us on twitter using @fundmychurch.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Brignell at 123rf.com