It’s official! People give more to charities at Christmas – CAF research suggests a total amount donated for 2017 of £10.3 billion with the highest month of giving in December.

The urgency of Christmas is an ideal way to connect with your supporters and encourage them to engage in as many ways as possible: volunteering, campaigning, fundraising and attending events, via email and phone. It’s also a great way to reach new supporters, so if you are planning a Christmas campaign, take a look at these practical tips from experienced fundraisers.

You need to be clear about what it is that you want to get from a Christmas campaign. Whether it’s fundraising or recruiting volunteers, getting your message right before you start with campaign mechanics is important. Show why you need support particularly at this time of year. Tell real stories (from last year) about the problems your organisation solved and what difference donations made to people’s lives. Making your Christmas story impactful is crucial – tell your audience what the problem is an how you are fixing it with their help – have a look at how to tell your fundraising story for practical tips and a template.

Now you must decide which channels to use. Websites should be the centre of any fundraising campaign, with the campaign stories (updated weekly) and clear instructions on how to donate and how a donor can make a difference. Post every day on Twitter and Facebook in December and make your tweets and posts count by using actual photos of your beneficiaries or better still – moving images – GIFs or video. Creating video using your phone has never been easier with lots of information on YouTube and the internet on how to do it. We’ve been using a tool called Lumen5 and also Facebook stories to create little videos – if we can do it you can too!

24 days of content for website and social media is daunting but if you write a content plan and use a scheduling tools like Hootsuite or TweetDeck you’ll find sending multiple messages across different channels much easier. Be imaginative with snippets of information, personal stories, New Year plans and resolutions, reflections on the year past and a donation count of how much you have raised so far. Get inspiration from fundraising blogs

For email campaigns, keep the message succinct and poignant; try for 250 words or less. Weekly updates on a shorter message can keep the momentum more effectively than a single lengthy email. Try to personalise if you can to stand out from other Christmas appeals. Email subjects are just as important – avoid the spam filter by not using language like ‘free’, capitalised words or exclamation marks and remember only to send to those who have given permission.

And most importantly, make it easy to give. Bold and hyperlink key phrases and sentences to your website donation button. It’s crucial to have a seamless donation process in place —don’t make your willing donors work hard just to give you money. This process needs to be mobile friendly too, or you’re leaving money on the table.

Finally, keep one thing at the front of your mind: this time of year needs to be all about your donors so remember to tell them how the campaign went and to THANK them for their donations and support.