FUNDRAISING NEWS: Campaign Watch - Just Breaking

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YWCA is using its first Christmas appeal to highlight the plight of young women affected by domestic violence over the seasonal period.

The pack, which will be sent out to 5,000 existing supporters, is based around a letter from a young woman who attended one of YWCA's 18 projects to help 18-30 year-olds overcome discrimination and disadvantages.

In the letter, the young woman explains how the domestic abuse suffered by her mother at the hands of her father often worsened around Christmas time, and how the seasonal period was a time of fear and dread rather than something to look forward to.

She goes on to explain how she regained her confidence after attending a YWCA project and meeting and talking to other people in a similar situation.

She ends with a plea to supporters: "If you can give the YWCA a donation, please do. I know that what they do really works - because I'm living proof that young women can change their lives and have something to look forward to."

The charity, which was formerly known as the Young Women's Christian Association, hopes that the personal approach of the letter will reach out to its supporters.

"We commissioned market research over the summer to explore the public perceptions of our work," says Joanna Matthews, director of fundraising at YWCA.

"We found that although the breadth of our work was valued, we needed to give a hook, a simple story, to explain the impact of what we do."

The pack will be mailed at the end of November, and the YWCA hopes to emulate the success that other charities experience with their Christmas appeals.

"Most charities already have some kind of Christmas appeal, and traditionally it is the most popular time of year to give," says John Barraclough, campaign manager at Catalyst, the agency responsible for the campaign. "For that reason, it seemed like a sensible approach to try."

The appeal asks supporters to make a one-off gift, and explains how £1,000 enables the charity to work with a young woman for three months, £50 pays for weekly confidence-boosting dance or drama sessions and £15 pays for an introductory session for a young woman.

"There are no quick-fix solutions to many of the issues facing young women," says Matthews, "and our donors need to know this so that they can be prepared to make a bigger investment."

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