publication date: Aug 30, 2011
author/source: Gayle Goossen
An aging donor population, increased competitiveness,
economic uncertainties and the high price of communication have complicated the
task of fundraising. Many organizations are looking for new approaches to
fundraising, helping them reach a younger audience and increase their brand
presence within Canada.
Developing a holiday gift program is an innovative way to
engage your donors and potential donors. Here are seven steps to help you start
the planning process:
- Strategic development. If you are unfamiliar with holiday gift
programs or are looking to start your own program, consider collaborating
with an expert to help you maximize your program. Basic considerations
include budget, audience and communication tactics.
- Develop the product mix and offer. The holiday gift program
resonates with the consumer in your donor. The offers need to be product-based,
simple and easy to understand. Gifts should start at a low dollar value
($10). Most purchasers buy more than one gift. Larger-valued gifts
increase overall revenue. Your gift mix should be developed in line with
your audience mix.
- Choose your distribution methods. The methods of distribution depend
on your strategic goals. If acquisition is your primary goal, postal
walks, mail and magazine inserts are effective methods of distribution.
Confining the campaign to digital communication formats will decrease the
- Maintain your brand in all of the materials. The program
should be easily identified as belonging to your organizations. While you
may add some seasonal design, the core distinguishing factor is your own
unique brand. Copy should be sales-focused and consumer-friendly. The
order form should be easy to read and complete. The print material works
hand-in-hand with the digital.
- Online presence is critical. In many programs, online
purchases represent more than half of the overall purchases. Even in
organizations that have low affinity for online donations, the holiday
gift program performs well online.
- Sending out gift cards must be timely and creative. The card
itself has an intrinsic perceived value. Successful organizations develop
a tradition of gift cards that donors and consumers look for, like the WWF stuffed toys. While the gift
cards will not impact your initial year's results, they will impact
- If the campaign has been
used for acquisition, make sure you have a strong thank-you and second
Here's what my colleagues and I learned through working with
a number of organizations to develop holiday gift programs.
- While more and more
catalogues and Web applications are available, the holiday gift programs
are still immature. The charitable sector is well aware of them, but
consumers are just beginning to grasp their potential.
- Holiday gifts are most
familiar in international development organizations, but can be applied to
almost any program. Chickens and goats are still the most popular choices.
- The most challenging
obstacle to overcome is identifying specific gifts. Chickens and goats
just make sense to the consumer. In some nonprofit environments, specific
gifts that resonate with the consumer are more difficult to identify.
- Donors do not see the
purchase of a holiday gift as a donation. While they appreciate the
charitable donation receipt, they purchase the gift from their holiday
gift budget, not their donation budget.
- While the Web is more and
more dominant in the holiday gift market, holiday gift programs are more
effective when supported by print and digital.
- Holiday gift programs are
often well suited to acquisition activities.
The holiday gift program is an extremely successful
fundraising strategy when implemented well. Consider your opportunity
carefully. The program is used most
effectively as an annual program. Your test period should be three to five
Gayle Goossen is the president and partner at Barefoot Creative. Not-for-profits make
up more than 50% of Barefoot's client base. The company's focus is on helping
each client effectively grow. With a focus on fundraising, brand equity and
direct response tactics, they are excited about the growth potential in the
Canadian charitable sector.