Charities urged: be more creative over Christmas

Christmas fundraising ideas can be a lot more inventive than just cards, collections and raffles, delegates at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention heard yesterday.

The Belgrave room at the Hilton was transformed into a winter wonderland by two summer Santas in full costume, fundraising consultant Brian Bell and Gary Wilkinson, fundraising manager of Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield. They went through more than 100 festive cash-generating ideas.

The craze for decorating homes with elaborate Christmas light displays could be utilised by charities,
delegates were told. In many towns, parents took their children on tours of the displays and residents could be persuaded to hold collections for charities to take advantage of the interest.

Another unusual idea was for volunteers to auction themselves as elves or gnomes for the day in the run-up to Christmas to do someone's gardening or ironing and raise cash for their charity in return.

Santa runs were a great way to gain press publicity at Christmas time, Bell and Wilkinson said. In Belfast last year, 10,000 Santas ran to raise money for a local hospice. For parents with small children, a jingle bell walk was a good alternative to a run.

Companies could be enticed into fundraising through Advent challenges, taking on different projects in the run-up to Christmas. They could also be persuaded to donate goods that charities' beneficiaries needed or products that could be auctioned off in raffles.

Trade fairs had shown that the dominant colours of Christmas in 2008 will be traditional red and green, and charities should plan their merchandise to fit in with this trend, they said.

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