The Season of Giving: Secret Santa Campaign Success

A strategic digital campaign rejuvenated a festive fundraiser, leading to an unprecedented revenue surge and supporting over 671,275 individuals.

Action for Children

4 mins read

Be a Secret Santa Homepage

Secret Santa homepage

The outcomes

The background

Action for Children's Secret Santa campaign is a lifeline for vulnerable children in the UK, bringing the magic of Christmas into their lives. It is one of the most esteemed Christmas campaigns among children's charities in the country and has become an annual tradition for many donors. 

Following our successful delivery of a full product rebuild and migration of the old Secret Santa microsite to Action for Children's main website in 2021, we were delighted to continue our partnership throughout 2022. 

Project brief and objectives

In early discussions on a hot spring day, while wearing Father Christmas hats on Zoom, we began work with the Action for Children team, sharing experiences to glean insights from the previous year's campaign.  

During discovery, we agreed on the priorities for the campaign in 2022: to increase online revenue through user-friendly donation journeys and to build brand awareness with new graphics and styling by Killer Creative, whilst ensuring inclusivity and diversity across the campaign.  

Capturing donor interest

The campaign encourages people to become Secret Santas and make a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable children by choosing gifts and making donations. We displayed gifts for £15 which might provide a child with toys and books, as well as £10 a month which could be put towards feeding a child breakfast and lunch each week. This provided donors with the full picture of how their money is spent.  


The choice of Christmas gifts for Secret Santas to select

In addition, donations were represented as stars on a UK map, with larger stars indicating more donations from specific areas. To express gratitude and enhance the donor experience, we also provided personalised gift certificates and real-time donation updates beside a beautifully animated snow scene backdrop. 

Throughout the project, we integrated SEO and digital data strategies to target supporters who opted for ongoing communication from Action for Children. This approach aimed to increase engagement and expand the number of supporters reachable through social and paid digital media. 

By November 2022, the campaign had achieved remarkable success, ranking first on Google for search terms like 'charity secret Santa' and 'charity Christmas presents,' and securing the fourth position for 'charity Christmas gifts.' 


UK map with stars to showcase gifts

The challenge

Our top priority was updating the previous Secret Santa website with new brand assets to ensure consistency across print and online materials whilst also building trust and brand recognition. However, we faced challenges due to fixed-scope and fixed-deadline parameters. 

To overcome these challenges, we adopted an Agile Delivery approach, focusing on a clear Minimum Viable Product (MVP). This approach allowed us to concentrate on essential features, ensuring uninterrupted payment journeys that would not impact fundraising income. Despite tight deadlines, we prioritised items in the product backlog to successfully deliver the MVP complete with Regression Testing on time and within budget. 

We were thrilled to achieve some of our more ambitious goals as well, including the addition of social proofing elements such as the map totaliser, dynamic donation stars, and animated snowy Christmas magic. Additions which significantly increased supporter engagement during the campaign! 


Personalised gift certificates

Working with Agile

Our ability to collaborate, inspect and adapt was crucial. As the Delivery Manager, it was a joy to see everyone seamlessly working together, adapting the product backlog based on real-time feedback and emerging requirements, and creatively overcoming design and technical challenges while implementing the new creative styling. 

Working in an Agile manner also allowed us to respond to real-time feedback and insights. For instance, during the TV coverage of Action for Children's collaboration with John Lewis' highly anticipated Christmas advert, we experienced a significant surge in traffic to the Secret Santa website. Thanks to the efforts of our technical team, the website ran smoothly, ensuring uninterrupted service, optimal performance, and no loss in income for Action for Children. 

A big shout out to Torchbox for ensuring the website stayed running smoothly when we had huge increases in traffic from our TV ad spots throughout the campaign and the feature on This Morning!

Janie Brown Digital Product Officer, Action for Children

The results

Last year, Action for Children helped 671,275 children, young people and families. The Secret Santa website played a crucial role in this success, generating an impressive 114% increase in revenue compared to the 2021 campaign.  

Torchbox did a great job bringing to life our digital data vision. What we asked of them was not simple, but they supported us at each step to refine the requirements, deliver the work, and thoroughly test everything. Overall, our campaign was able to be more agile and respond to performance in real-time thanks to this work and contributed to our best ever Secret Santa campaign.

Nick Saunders Smith Digital Marketing & Analytics Manager, Action for Children

Let's chat

Get support with your charity's Christmas campaign

Thankfully, this time, Santa didn't get stuck up the chimney, and the success of Secret Santa will continue into 2023 with a new campaign set to help even more families across the UK.  

If you're looking for support with your 2023 Christmas campaign, get in touch via [email protected]


Jo Ford

Delivery Manager