A Very PR Christmas #3: Christmas campaign interview with UK charity, Toybox

For the 3rd installment of my Christmas blog series, I went back to Toybox where I did a work placement in the summer (and loved it!) and interviewed Fiona Furman, Media Manager, about their Christmas campaign 2015…


Toybox is a UK Christian charity with a mission to end the injustice of street children, one of the world’s most vulnerable groups.  Toybox wants to see a world with no street children and won’t stop until we do.

Hi Fiona! Can you talk a bit about this year’s Street Santa Christmas campaign?

We decided this year to get more involved with Giving Tuesday. It only launched in the UK last year, but it encourages people to give back after all the spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We got creative as a team and shared ideas about what the campaign needed to be; simple, low cost and engaging. We came up with the idea of being a Secret Santa for a Street Child and people could text to donate £3 which could give a child a warm pair of socks and a hot meal and drink.

How did you use Social Media with the campaign?

We decided to go with the secret theme and invited people to share selfies – every campaign needs a selfie! – with their finger over the lips (shh) on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram along with #StreetSanta. We had brilliant celebrity support too; Jodie Prenger was really keen to get involved and was tweeting about the campaign straight away on Giving Tuesday.

How successful was the Street Santa campaign?

The original plan was to run the campaign throughout the whole of December, starting on Giving Tuesday (1st December) so we set a target that we wanted to help 350 children which works out as £1,050. That target was hit on the first day that and raised over £1,100, which was amazing. We also felt that we should reduce the length of the campaign to just a week, as we could see we’d engaged with a lot of people already and it was hard to keep asking our supporters to keep donating more to the same campaign. One of the nice things about being a smaller organisation is that we could be flexible to situations as they happen; I think smaller charities can be more flexible than bigger ones, which is great because we can test things and new ideas. We hit our second target of £1,500 on the Thursday morning (3rd December). It was really lovely internally too; we had Christmas music on, Santa hats and every time a big donation came in we’d all get really excited and celebrate together!

How did planning early in the year affect the success of the campaign?

What was great about planning the campaign so early was that we were able to maximise all the opportunities throughout the year. We already knew in March what our campaign was going to be, what the text to donate number was going to be and what the text to donate copy was going to be. When my colleague went on a trip to Latin America in June she was able to get lots of photos of the children in Santa hats and videos of them all singing We Wish You A Merry Christmas in Spanish – which we sent to our supporters as a Thank You for donating! Being able to plan that ahead of time was fantastic. Also, when we went to Wychwood Festival in May we were very fortunate to be given backstage access to the acts and performers, including The Proclaimers and Andy Kershaw who made #StreetSanta videos for us in Santa Hats!

How was this year’s campaign different to last years?

One of things we do as a charity is work to get Street Children birth certificates and last year’s campaign focussed on that – it was called My Name Is Maria and we created a video around a girl on the streets. For that campaign, the ask was a lot higher; we asked for £32 which had far less take up than this year and raised about £800 which is probably because it was a much bigger ask but it was from fewer people so this huge number of interactions with supporters was great for us this year – and that was really what we wanted to do.

What advice would you give to students running campaigns around Christmas time?

  1. Plan really early! You won’t get as stressed in the run up, and it also means you can grab all the opportunities that come up during the year, such as if a band play at the Student Union you can see if they’ll get involved.
  2. Be flexible! It was great to be able to say ‘you know what? Let’s not do it for a month, let’s just do it for a week’ and to react to the campaign as it was unfolding.
  3. Take any opportunities that come up!

Thank you, Fiona! This all gets me very excited to create Christmas campaigns in the future, especially as I want to work for a charity! If you would like to support Toybox and the Street Santa campaign, click here!

There won’t be a blog post next Friday, as it’s Christmas day and I’ll be  busy eating pigs in blankets, but stay tuned for the final post in my Christmas blog series on New Years Day!

Liv xo


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