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How to Get Your Winter Appeal Noticed

16 July 2015 at 11:06 am
Xavier Smerdon
The Antarctic Vortex has whirled its way to Australia’s eastern shores, and now more than ever we’re feeling the bite of winter. Digital marketing expert Richenda Vermeulen takes a look at this season’s charity winter appeals to see who has conquered the online space this year.

Xavier Smerdon | 16 July 2015 at 11:06 am


How to Get Your Winter Appeal Noticed
16 July 2015 at 11:06 am

The Antarctic Vortex has whirled its way to Australia’s eastern shores, and now more than ever we’re feeling the bite of winter. Digital marketing expert Richenda Vermeulen takes a look at this season’s charity winter appeals to see who has conquered the online space this year.

For most Aussie Not for Profits, winter marks the peak of campaign season, particularly as the financial year draws to a close by June 30th. During this time, donors have a higher propensity to give, with tax deductible incentives and increased prompts to donate from charities. Many charities choose to make this their primary campaign for the year, or at least positioned very closely behind Christmas time where people increase charity donations as gifts.

From our experience working within the sector at these times, it's important to note that yes, taxation is a motivating factor. However, Australians are increasingly compassionate during the remaining cooler months too. For donors, it's easier to envision Aussies doing it tough: cold nights and hungry mouths are impossible to ignore as the mercury drops lower and lower. For Australian charities, winter is one of the most opportune times to collect donations.

Regardless of your organisation, you are positioned in a cluttered marketplace at a very busy time. So how do you cut through?

Here are three campaigns we think stand out for Australians this year:

1) The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Appeal

The beloved Salvos are recruiting an “army of hope” this year in their mission to assist Aussies in need for their 50th annual Red Shield Appeal.
The Salvation Army

What we love:

In conjunction with their 150th anniversary, the Salvos are diving into their photo archives with the hashtag #WeAre150. Their campaign taps into the trust and memories that have been build in Australian communities for generations. For donors, this operates as a friendly reminder to support your local, trusted and recognised charity.

2) The Smith Family Winter Appeal

The Smith Family is really tugging at the heart strings this year by putting their child sponsorship program front and centre of their winter appeal campaign.

What we love:

The Smith Family is being expert storytellers this year, consistently showcasing the tales of Australians the organisation has helped. This technique is a winner because it encourages hope and shows the direct ways in which donations help people improve their lives Chart


They're also very transparent with their financials: this is important because donors will continually consider your charity alongside many others during the 'evaluation stage' of their decision. Imagine a potential donor sitting in front of a laptop screen with five different tabs open comparing one charity to another. Having numbers that show the impact of their donation can help prompt their decision making.


This might sound like common sense, however it's something we notice is missing from the majority of Australian charities. We know it's hard to do and that it takes resources (which are already limited) however it's incredibly important to invest in communicating your financial circumstances in a clear, considered, and informative way (like these FAQs from World Vision Australia).

3) Vinnies’ Winter Appeal

Charity legend St Vincent de Paul Society is warming up our hearts this year with their annual Winter Appeal. Armed with some schmick new branding, they’re bravely showing Aussies what it means to experience hardship during an unforgiving winter.

What we love:

Vinnies have used dollar handles to show the results of a donation and what services it can provide. This is a great tactic to encourage generosity, and one which many charities are already implementing, however if you don’t use dollar handles to spur donations, you need to be. These little numbers end up conveying a lot about your charity and your fundraising priorities and can directly influence the price point that a donor chooses. Ask too little and it’s likely you will receive less than a donor had planned to give, ask too much and you may deter lower level donors from giving at all. If you have enough web traffic, you should be split-testing multiple handles and variables to see which yield the highest donations.

donation for foundation

This winter has also seen Vinnies embark on a national corporate partnership with Sumo Salad, whereby every time the hashtag #HeatUpTheStreet is used, Sumo Salad donates a soup to someone in need. This hashtag activation has garnered over 800 pieces of user generated content (which means 800 donations!) and both brands’ communities have been getting involved online. These partnerships a great way to develop content-based relationships with affiliate partners (where you agree to distribute their content if they do the same), allowing you to access different audiences and grow the reach of your messaging.

Remember: Regardless of how you choose to engage and compel people in your campaigns, make sure donations are only two clicks away. But don’t hedge all your bets on campaigns –  often the greatest fundraising opportunity is an ‘always on’ approach to obtaining donations, many of which can come from your existing supporter base. Questions? Email me:

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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