Tis the season to be jolly, tra la la la la la la la laa. Bah, humbug.
Spare a thought for us front line charity workers and volunteers in the Christmas period. It may be the supposed season of kindness and giving for you but for us it’s the season of begging. We’ve got a smile on our face while we’re doing it, but don’t think we’re enjoying it.
As Christmas approaches, and in turn the end of the fundraising year, madness descends on the voluntary sector as they look to feed on the generous mood of Christmas. There’ll be store collections in every supermarket, Christmas fairs, Santa dashes, on the street fundraisers, Christmas jumper days, numerous raffles and so on. All to scrape in as much money as possible from your pocket.
Everybody in the charity will become an expert on fundraising, particularly those trustees and senior management who pay very little attention to fundraising throughout the year but then come December start to realise fundraising is important when those unrealistic targets they set you aren’t met (SPOILER: you can never raise enough money). They’ll send in all sorts of amazing and original ideas like a Christmas Jumper day or to raffle off a Christmas hamper, like those stalwarts of the fundraising calendar weren’t in the fundraising plan that was sent to them the year before. The very one that was ignored because they were “too busy” fighting fires at the end of last year to look forward and plan for the year ahead.
This is where the sense of de ja vu and immense frustration set in. That fundraising plan for the next year you submitted last month? Hasn’t been signed off. Putting your early year events on the back foot already. So you can scribble that Christmas present from your list. The fundraising Santa Claus obviously doesn’t think you’ve been good enough this year.
Now for a nice bit. It’s also time to get in touch with all of your supporters from the year to thank them. This is actually one of the nice bits of December. Looking back on the individual stories of fundraisers, the events you put on, the community groups and workplaces who’ve chipped in and the stories from the great services your charity provides. Genuinely, the best bit of the job. But even this is laced with a carefully worded ‘ask’ for the end of the year.
So please, if you see a store collection please throw a couple of coins in the bucket. These guys will be volunteers who are giving up their time to stand there and, for the most part, being ignored. Brighten up their day, they’ll most likely have used the charity and will care about it. For every charity Christmas fair there’s a fundraiser and a team of volunteers who spent hours wrapping selection boxes, which were begged for, and giving up a cold and probably rainy Sunday to set up and host it. Pop in, you might even win a bottle of shampoo in a tombola. It’ll do more than just raise a little money for a charity though; it’ll give that team of people a much needed boost when they count it all up at the end of the day. Well, at least until next year’s targets come out.
Anyway, Merry Christmas. Have a £3 a month direct debit form…