YMCA is concentrating solely on the issue of homelessness in an appeal this Christmas.

The organisation will ask supporters to give a homeless young person a money gift that will go towards paying for secure accommodation, a hot meal or a Christmas present.

Designed by The Domain Group, the direct mail campaign will be sent to existing donors and regular givers. The initiative also aims to reactivate interest from recently lapsed donors.

The mail-shot has been designed to highlight the fact that many young people will spend Christmas Day on the streets. A case study written by the YMCA's national secretary uses the story of a 17-year-old girl to show how the organisation can help people during the festive period.

"We really wanted to engage the reader in YMCA's work with homeless young people," said Judy Fish, account director at the Domain Group. "The true story of this young girl was absolutely crucial to the realism of the campaign."

A second mail pack will be sent out in mid-December to trigger extra donations from supporters. Themed around a Christmas meal, the pack will ask recipients to set an extra place at their Christmas dinner table for a young homeless person. Inside the mailing is an empty place mat, which donors can use to include a personal message with their money gift.

In an accompanying letter, the charity will lay out its aims as a menu. For starters, there is safe and secure accommodation, the main course is a second chance at training and education, and pudding is help with moving on.

"This Christmas appeal is a particularly important one for YMCA, and one we hope will generate a good response," said Catherine Lawson, direct marketing manager at the charity.

"This year is particularly interesting, because for the first time we will be segmenting donors by the value of their previous gifts in our evaluation," she added. "The results of this campaign will therefore be very important in planning our direct mailing strategy for next year."

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