Our work

Motor Neurone Disease Association

Doubling the MND Association’s Christmas appeal income target


Main appeal DM pack, Reminder appeal DM pack.

The challenge

Christmas 2020 was a critical moment for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Like most charities, much of their income had been slashed last year – and responding to the challenges of the pandemic had entailed huge costs.

Throughout 2020, their supporters had risen to the challenge by giving generously – including to an emergency appeal. But in a deteriorating economic situation, our partners at the MND Association were worried that their strongest donors wouldn’t be able to give again.

As Christmas neared, the charity was facing an income shortfall: potentially stalling support for those living with the disease, and putting ground-breaking research in jeopardy.

We couldn’t let that happen.

The solution

Historically, the MND Association’s Christmas appeals focussed on a single story from someone living with the disease – and asked people to support care in the UK.

But we knew that, to achieve the income the charity needed in 2020, we had to do something completely different.

So we took a step back, and came up with a new strategic approach: radical authenticity.

By confronting our audience head-on with the scale of the problem, with authority figures sealing the deal, we knew we’d get supporters listening.

We pared back this appeal’s creative to the bare minimum: a four page letter, written from Sally Light, the MND Association’s CEO. This ‘message from the CEO’s desk’ was blunt about the charity’s financial situation and frank about the enormous difficulties faced both by people living with MND, and the researchers whose funding was at risk.

Sally took supporters through a handful of compelling stories from 2020 – from Andy, who was doing all he could to raise money despite living with MND himself, to Gill, the MND Association volunteer who pulled out the stops to adapt in lockdown.

Then, we spoke emotionally about how much of a tragedy losing research funding would be – just when the world is on the precipice of amazing breakthroughs.

Through this honest letter, we showed supporters how the pandemic had thrown so much into doubt – but that their gift could bring certainty. A donation to this Christmas appeal was the promise that research would continue. That exciting new avenues would be explored.

That a cure for MND would come closer.

A few weeks later, we sent a reminder from Andy, the person living with MND whose story Sally told in the main appeal.

His voice cemented the radical authenticity of our approach.

He drove home the urgency of the need this year – and the hope of everything that, in 2021, a Christmas gift could make possible.

The results

Our approach worked.

The MND Association raised nearly double their target for this Christmas appeal.

That money has helped to keep the MND Association’s incredible work going in 2021. We’re so proud of that.