How to make your Christmas appeal into a Christmas story

GOOD_Thinking_ChristmasI’ve just received my first invitation to a Christmas carol concert. I’m not going to go, but I know exactly what it’ll be like. Candles, choirs, an air of reverence, maybe a glass of wine paid for using a raffle ticket.

Come to think of it, while I know exactly what it will be like, I couldn’t tell you how. You see, I’ve never even been to a Christmas carol concert.

But somehow we just know these things. That’s because Christmas is rooted in some sort of deep, atavistic, tribal memory, which come from its essential stories and traditions. The stable. Tiny Tim. The Three Kings. Santa. The Little Match Girl and Bing Crosby. Many of these stories aren’t that old in historical terms. But they are layered – they essentially build on the nativity tradition, which helps them call on deeper cultural signifiers. They are some of the stickiest stories of all, and at this time of year they’re even stickier.

It stands to reason that we want our Christmas appeals to sit in the same territory – to draw from the same deep well of emotion and meaning.

So what does your Christmas appeal contain that will help it cut through, and reach deeper (helping your donors do the same)? An unexpected act of kindness. A donkey lost in the snow. A mother giving birth in difficult conditions. A family sitting down to eat together. A child living to see another Christmas.

Find those elements, and your appeal will feel like a natural part of the season. Because we don’t want to be an uninvited guest at the Christmas feast. We don’t want to disrupt it, or be an alternative to it (normally). We want to be a part of it. We want to be an aspect of every family’s Christmas tradition. Of their story, if you like.

What’s ours? Every Christmas, as they sit down to eat, my dad says “And God bless us one and all”. He’s not a religious man. It’s from the closing lines of Dickens’ Christmas Carol, a book which I urge you to read if you want to get back in touch with the generous spirit of Christmas.

Of course, you know the story already.