Background: Christmas is a key time for Christian Aid's fundraising and awareness programmes and it runs various annual appeals through the church community, plus direct mail fundraising campaigns to its 185,000 supporters.
In 2002, all Christmas fundraising activities were focused on a central theme of gifts that could be bought for people in the developing world.
Each fundraising campaign featured tools such as taps and spades wrapped as presents, each one relating to a real-life example of how the work of Christian Aid helps disadvantaged people across the globe.
The charity has also started to make more use of the internet as a fundraising channel and has previously launched several campaigns through its fish.co.uk portal and on the central Christian Aid web site, www.christianaid.org.uk. This year the charity also wanted to establish Christmas as the second-largest event in its web calendar after Christian Aid week.
Aims: Christian Aid aimed to raise at least £30,000 through online donations throughout the Christmas period. It wanted to design an online campaign that would creatively communicate the message of the Christmas appeal, while encouraging more people to interact with the charity through the internet.
The online campaign also aimed to raise awareness of the charity virally by creating a site that would make people want to send it on to friends and family.
How it worked: Christian Aid designed an online campaign in-house and recruited a freelancer, Chris Howath, to create two e-cards reflecting the general themes of the campaign. The e-cards were supposed to be attractive and useful in their own right and were promoted as a free service to users across the www.christianaid.org.uk and www.fish.co.uk web sites.
The cards were designed to relate directly to the overarching fundraising theme of gift-wrapped tools. The interactive card allowed users to decorate their own virtual Christmas tree by dragging and dropping presents representing different tools. The finished product could then be emailed to friends and family. Anyone receiving the card could open the presents and learn about how their support could help the charity continue with its work overseas.
Fish, Christian Aid's ethical internet service provider (ISP) and portal, had its own animated card with the theme Pull the Plug on Corporate Christmas for visitors to its web site.
The cards were promoted through banner advertising on major web sites including The Independent, Guardian Unlimited and Streetmap.co.uk. The card was also sent to subscribers of fish.co.uk's e-newsletter.
Results: Christian Aid sent more than 9,000 cards to its supporters and a total of £75,000 was received in cash donations and direct debit gifts from 1 December to 31 January 2003. Average gifts for direct debits set up on the web sites were around £7, with average cash donations around £100.
"This is the first time that Christian Aid has run a fully integrated campaign over Christmas, bringing together our resources for churches, press advertising, direct mail and online work under a single united theme," said Jess Day, web manager at Christian Aid. "We needed to have something that was fun so people would send it to their friends, but where the 'ask' didn't get lost."