Christmas in November

More and more, it seems fundraisers and nonprofit consultants are touting the idea that “it’s never too early” to start planning for the year-end holiday giving season. And recently, it seems like holiday fundraising campaigns are starting earlier and earlier.

For instance, the famous Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign now kicks off as soon as the calendar flips to November, and if the mailing I received from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the weekend is any indication, other nonprofits are following suit.

Truth be told, I was a little surprised to see a green envelope with the teaser, “Will you please send a Christmas card for a St. Jude child to hang on a tree? We’ve enclosed one for you to send …” — see the envelope at right — before Thanksgiving rolled around, but really, I shouldn’t have been. After all, department stores begin pushing the holiday sales season right after Halloween (sometimes before), so why shouldn’t fundraisers get a jump-start on their biggest time of the year as well?

The outer also had an image of a snowman on the front, and inside is a one-sheet, two-page (front and back) letter detailing the emotional story and words of Kayla, an 8-year-old St. Jude patient. The letter is remarkable, putting a face and name to the plight of children’s cancer, and it’s also uplifting in bringing about the holiday spirit.

But the standout of the package is without question the Christmas card element. Not only is there a card with the same snowman image as the envelope and the words “Merry Christmas” on top for donors to sign and return so a St. Jude patient can hang it on the tree, but there is also a thank-you card with a picture of Kayla that really hits the donor. Inside, it reads, “Without you and St. Jude, this Christmas wouldn’t be as merry. Thank you.” Adding the ultimate touch, it is signed by Kayla’s parents. (View at right.)

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