Dragonfly’s festive direct marketing toolkit webinar

By Isla Munro

5 minute Read


  • Insight

On Friday 16 July, we welcomed over 50 fundraisers and marketers from across the charity sector to our latest webinar, our festive direct marketing toolkit. For 30 minutes, Dragonfly’s Managing Director, Isla Munro and Creative Director, Jennifer Bailey took our audience on a magical, 30 minute, whistle stop tour of the latest industry insights, how some big brands are using Christmas themed advertising this summer, and some of our top tips for driving donations this festive season utilising offline direct marketing channels.

Believe it or not, Christmas is closer than you think. There are only 3,888 hours, 162 days, 24 weeks, YES only 5 pay days until the big day. You may have noticed, it’s not just us that are getting festive, with many big brands engaging with customers this summer to mark the halfway point from the disaster that was COVID-19 Christmas 2020.

Aldi Junemas saw the return of some festive favourites including mince pies, pigs in blankets and Christmas puddings which were back in the high street stores for 25 June for people who wanted to give Christmas 2020 another shot after they didn’t get to spend the day as anticipated back in December.


And talking of food, Pret a Manger has launched it’s fundraising Christmas Sandwich – in July. Fans of the festive sandwich are delighted to see its return having missed out last December again due to the pandemic restrictions. 50p from each sandwich goes to its foundation which supports homelessness and poverty charities – so everyone is doing their bit!



Now the festive mood had been set, we moved on to talk about our passion, direct marketing. Starting the humble Christmas card. The first recorded use of the Christmas card dates back to 1534 and 487 years later, they play such a vital role each year when friends and family want to spread love and festive cheer amongst themselves. Charities have utilised Christmas cards as a fundraising tool, and to great effect. Probably the most famous is the UNICEF Christmas card program launched in 1949, which selects artwork from internationally known artists for card reproduction.



You may have guessed this already, but we are huge fans of direct mail. We love everything about it. Whether it’s supporting our clients with their growth plans through acquisition, stirring up some creative inspiration or identifying incredible postage savings through incentives or TIS (Testing and Innovation Scheme), we just love getting stuck in and helping our clients in achieving their goals.

Christmas 2020 was cancelled for most of us. For Charities, this really did hit hard. Usually, the sector sees around a 19% uplift in donations purely driven by the seasonality of Christmas alone. At a time where the economy was in recession and case was tight for many, it was more important than ever for charities to stand out from the crowd. Despite the strain of COVID, communities came together in ways some have never experienced before. The feeling of goodwill was around and many had the opportunity to save money which led to an increased desire for generosity. By Christmas 2020, over 28.5m people had given to charity in the last 12 months. That’s the equivalent of 53% of UK adults with an average lifetime donation value per donor of £75 (Up 5% vs. 2019).


Christmas 2020 also saw some positive trends amongst other offline channels with Partially Addressed Mail staying in the home for longer at 6.37 days on average. This channel went even further as we headed into Q1 with an average in home lifespan of 9.23 days.

So looking ahead to Christmas 2021. What is it you want to achieve with your DM? Are you focusing on retention? Or is acquiring new donors high on the agenda? Either way, we have some incredible ideas and solutions to support your team in both areas. We have seen some incredible examples of brands using direct mail and door drops to drive acquisition and here are just a few of them.

  • The Salvation Army, one of the most effective Christmas campaigns in the UK, concentrate on messages which are generally optimistic and even joyous. It has consistently delivered staggering results for them across their multi-media campaigns.
  • RNIB have experienced record results using up-lifting examples of the power of their work at Christmas, particularly for their Talking Books Service.
  • Disability charity Sense have enjoyed success for many years with their Sensory Toy appeal, the toy doesn’t cost a lot but delivers tangible joy to a deafblind child.

We know you are a charity audience – but we look at other sectors for clever ideas for Christmas DM too – as one size doesn’t always fit all…

Ways to make your Christmas campaign stand out?

Here are just a few things to consider when planning your Christmas to help make it stand out

  • Who is it going to?
  • Thank you or asking for money?
  • What's the plea/what’s the difference?
  • Is it seasonal – what’s the reason for asking for money at Christmas?
  • Technical – postage and formats can be expensive so work back from there
  • Don’t forget the power of the envelope – use the Royal Mail stamp, use handwritten fonts, be bold!

Ways to make your Christmas DM stand out – Retention

Traditional cards are very welcome, especially for older donors as it is becoming less common for younger people to send Christmas cards. Charities consistently target the older generations (55+) the most, however they increased the targeting of under 34 years olds by at least +123% in 2020 compared to 2019.

A traditional Christmas card for your supporters and customers is a gentle approach that is not only good for awareness but makes them feel valued. The great thing about retention is that you can use personalisation to really make each card that bit more personal.


Ways to make your Christmas DM stand out – Acquisition

In an acquisition request for donations and sign ups, it is important to consider the 'ask'. This should be crafted well in advance of he campaign as it is a very busy and noisy time of year for DM. Christmas is an emotional time for everybody, even more so this year so don't be shy to pull on the heart strings. Finally, what will make your appeal stand out from the crowd? Here are some tips:

  • The outer envelope message is important - it needs to be clear and hard hitting
  • Personalisation is VERY important
  • Offer people a solution. Your Christmas ask should be manageable. Adding a date/timeliness/deadline is a good opportunity to do a follow up
  • Make the donor feel like they can make a difference
  • Don’t present too big a problem to them
  • QR codes are such a great way to make the donation process quicker and easier

Finally, here are some of our top things to consider when it comes to creative:

  • It’s the toughest brief of the year – and you might do 5 a year

It’s hard to find a new angle every year, so it’s about reading the tone of your audience and finding your voice at this time

  • It takes a lot longer than it looks!

It's brief that has an absolute deadline, so you can’t miss it. But it’s a thinker – so get it in early to your creative team. Let them ‘mull’ it over. Compare it how long it takes you to pick the perfect card for a friend's birthday! And when you get that perfect one you know it is ‘just right’

  • It might not need to follow the rules.

This is a unique piece of DM in your customer journey and as such it can ‘get away with’ being a bit different. Maybe you don’t need to slavishly follow your brand guidelines, maybe it’s an opportunity to be a bit different and stretch your brand

  • Can’t we just send a nice card ?

Yes! You can – being simple works well. But it’s about a balance. A simple card can appear restraint and a simple well wish always goes down well. But this is such key opportunity to stay around in your donor's home for the longest time of year. You are not only put the brand in their hands, but on DISPLAY in their home, proudly, and for others to see. So, it’s worth thinking about the impact you could

  • Don’t over think it

When your creative team present your idea try to stick with your first reactions to it. It’s not a complex piece so if it made you instantly smile, laugh, cry or feel anything at all, hold on to that while everyone in your company sees it.

Thank you to everyone who joined us this Friday, we loved having you along for the ride. If you and your team need further support for the festive season or a link to the webinar, please get in touch with us at info@thedragonflysagency.co.uk. We’re here to help you make this Christmas the best yet!



Isla Munro image

About the author

Isla is an experienced Managing Director, marketeer and leader. Driven by creative data led solutions, she takes pride in providing the best direct marketing campaigns and strategies. As Dragonfly’s Managing Director, her goals include delivering growth not just for her clients, but her team too. Isla sits on the Royal Mail Strategic Mailing Partnership board and the DMA Scotland committee and has spoken at many industry events on topics including GDPR and direct marketing.

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