As volunteer fundraisers focused on brilliant local initiatives, are we reluctant to mount a fundraising Christmas Jumper Day of our own, because we think it needs to be as slick, well organised, and celebrity-endorsed like the popular national campaigns? When faced with the success of high profile initiatives, it’s easy to be convinced that fundraising is too difficult without a marketing budget and long-standing supporter list. We’re going to bust some fundraising myths in the hope that you’ll run your own campaign this year.
Christmas Jumper Day – the facts
Let’s start with some fun facts:
- Save the Children started Christmas Jumper Day 10 years ago, but of course, there were early adopters engaging in the tradition well before then. So they too jumped on the back of an existing fun idea – don’t feel ashamed to do the same! See something that’s working? Copy it! Hold your own Christmas Jumper Day for the cause you love.
- Christmas Jumpers was searched for 3.9M times on Google in December 2016. This means it’s popular. Even a quick tour of the shops tells us that people are interested and buying – just look at the number of Christmas Jumpers available to buy! And there’s more…
- In 2011 the Christmas jumper became the perfect present, and Amazon reported an increase of 600% in sales. We haven’t reached peak fever pitch with this trend yet, so jump on the bandwagon and pop it into your 5-year plan.
- It’s a national phenomenon! Since then the Christmas Jumper has enjoyed an ever-increasing popularity, raising £4M in 2016 for the work Save the Children do according to their Annual Report.
Christmas Jumper Day – the myths
So let’s take a look at the myths we believe around a national campaign like Christmas Jumper Day. I hope I can help you think about your context differently, and try to get out there and make some £££££ for your cause!
Myth 1 – A massive marketing budget will ensure success.
The pessimist/optimist in me sent off for the Christmas Jumper Day marketing pack. Sadly, I did absolutely nothing with a brilliant piece of fundraising material! Why? Because I don’t have a personal connection to the charity. So don’t assume a massive marketing budget will automatically lead to success. What really makes people want to get involved is a personal connection to the cause – a reason to be involved; an individual desire to see a change in the world. It’s talking to these people that will ensure fundraising success. It does pay to be realistic; a lot of people won’t care. And that’s fine. Keep hunting until you’ve gathered your particular band of merry men (hopefully a big band!) and work on them.
Top tip – People who care don’t need to be persuaded by shiny materials or a celebrity face to take action.
Myth 2 -National Campaigns are instantly successful.
It takes time to build momentum, get people talking, and change attitudes. Don’t forget – in 2001 (the year of Bridget Jones’s diary) the Christmas Jumper wasn’t cool! The needs of small to medium charities are often so immediate that smaller outfits don’t feel they can plan for the long term, but you must! As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you have a really urgent need – you’re on the verge of closing down, for example – run an urgent campaign, telling people how bad it is. However, it’s good practice to spend half of your time on today’s fundraising, and the other half planning for the future. Decide how much money you need over the next five years and make a fundraising plan that achieves this. And if you’re planning your first Christmas Jumper Day this year, use this experience to plan for 2018, 2019, 2020… Changes you could make will be fresh in your mind after your event, so write them down and work in improvement. Set yourself some goals. This year we will aim to raise £500, next year £1,500 and the year after 3,000. It gives you shape, something to work towards, and an initiative donors can really get their teeth into.
Top tip – Plan for the long term.
Myth 3 – You need a catchy gimmick that will go viral.
I read a great book about getting stuff to go viral – Contagious by Jonah Berger. As I read it – panic set in. The stories of success are mind-bogglingly alluring – a hidden bar, accessed in secret via a phone booth with the title ‘Please Don’t Tell.’ How cool is that? I want all my fundraising campaigns to be that gripping! We want to be wowed by fascinating entertainment, beautiful homes, and stunning clothes. So, of course, we share cool new things with our friends and talk about newsworthy discoveries. But although the principles behind making things go viral are helpful, you don’t have to have a campaign go viral to raise money. That’s because the secret ingredient in fundraising success isn’t a quirky gimmick, it’s a strong relationship with your donors. We all know someone who’s good at it: friendly, never forgets your birthday, or to ask after your loved ones, and great at getting everyone to join in. Yes, donors like a bit of entertainment and will share it with their friends, but mostly they want you to commit to a good relationship with them.
Top tip – Be great at relationships.
Myth 4 – National Campaigns are easy to come by
My designer husband always says great design should look effortless. Similarly, national charity campaigns look like child’s play. They’re simple to engage with, compelling, and almost everyone seems to get involved. So it would be easy for us volunteer fundraisers (short on time and inspiration) to imagine that Save the Children have it all on a plate. Let me tell you, they do not. People worked hard on this stuff – for months! It didn’t come easy – it was the product of careful planning and a whole lot of resource, and they smashed it! Now here’s the hard bit – most of us simply don’t have money to spend on making money; it would undoubtedly be easier if we did, but here’s my top tip: don’t let it get you down! Don’t give up! Measure results – how much did you spend putting the Friday bake sale together and how much did you make? Now do the same for the Christmas Fair, the pub quiz night, the annual plea in the newsletter. Measure a few initiatives that you’ve run, look at what works, and do them again.
Top tip – Measure your activities and put all your people and resources behind what works well for you.
We would love to hear about your local Christmas Jumper Days, how you did it, how successful it was, and what you plan to do even better next year! Tweet us @fundraising_hub
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