The ‘Spirit’ of the Festive Season

By Tony Elischer
On December 6, 2012 At 2:00 pm

Category : Latest posts, opinion, strategy

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By the time you read this hopefully you will be full of festive spirit, unwinding and celebrating another year, but are you celebrating success or survival?

I love the festive season as communities, families and the commercial sector show their creativity in making a ‘different world’; a world of celebration, imagination, childhood and fun. Whatever your beliefs, the characters, symbols, snow, ceremonies, rituals and changes in routine set most of us free to smile, enjoy ourselves and reconnect with the people that are important to us.
The stories that surround this time of the year play out in the theatre of the mind, touching emotions and memories in a positive way and help us to end a calendar year on a positive note, preparing us for the year ahead. There is so much for charities to learn from this time of year about the way we connect people to our causes and brands, does any organisation come even remotely close to creating a similar feeling?

For years I have explained to fundraisers that we now work on three levels of motivation and connection with donors: the head (rational), the heart (emotions) and spiritual (the need to express values and connect to beliefs that make some sense of the world that we live in).

In recent years it has always been the spiritual motivation that people have struggled with, how does a charity present itself to appeal to people’s spirit? Yet I would argue that this is the ‘high ground’ and the strongest possible connection your charity can have with a donor and their potential loyalty and feeling of belonging.

The build up to Christmas now has three key global charity months defined, which I believe are beginning to touch on spirituality. The long established one starts in October, Breast Cancer, which has over recent years has truly connected to people’s spirits helping them to share grief, celebrate survival and bring hope to women world wide; not exactly an easy brief to meet if it had been set out in this way from the outset.

November has now well and truly been converted to Movember to bring focus to men and male cancers. This simple, yet powerful campaign, which this year will raise over €72 million globally for male cancers, has reached a new level this year, in my view, connecting to the spirituality of men and families.

The 1st December is World Aids Day, certainly not as ‘packaged’ as the previous two causes in the call to action, but still a time for communities all over the world to remember that Aids is still killing nearly 2 million people year and whilst progress is being made, we’re not there yet. The red ribbon is the ‘original’ charity ribbon and the one that in my mind is spiritual above all others, helping us all show we care and bringing a global community together to reconfirm that we must continue the fight against Aids on all fronts.

So where are you? Whether you are local, national or international have you defined your version of the ‘spirit of the festive season’, touching donors lives in truly imaginative and inspiring ways; giving donors original ways to express their support in authentic ways that express their lifestyle, their life-stage and their values and beliefs. Bringing your cause to life through great stories, great visuals and hopefully great experiences of working with you.

This festive season, stop and ask yourself what’s driving your inner feeling of warmth, joy and satisfaction and then stop again and apply that same formula to your fundraising strategy for 2013.

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Tony Elischer (18 blogs on 101fundraising)

Tony has over 30 years hands on experience in the not for profit sector. He has been a consultant for the last fourteen years working at the highest level across a wide range of causes and organisations and is the founder of the leading international consultancy THINK Consulting Solutions. He is an internationally regarded expert on fundraising and marketing, having extensive experience of helping charities worldwide with strategy, fundraising, management and troubleshooting. In the last 12 months he has worked in over 20 countries.


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