Press release

Longest-running charity fundraising week accelerates digital change during lockdown

Britain’s longest-running fundraising week has taken an innovative approach to shifting its fundraising online during the coronavirus pandemic.

Christian Aid Week, which kicks off this Sunday (10 May), has re-imagined its fundraising during lockdown, by turning away from the traditional red envelopes posted through letterboxes that have been iconic throughout its decades-long history, and creating a digital envelope that supporters can pass on to neighbours, friends and family.

The e-envelope can be personalised with images or video clips and can include a fundraising target so people can receive progress updates by email.

The annual fundraising week unites 50,000 volunteers and 12,000 churches to fundraise to help some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities. But this year, the organisation has been challenged to raise money in new ways, as physical fundraisers including house-to-house collections, Big Brekkie events and sponsored sporting events have had to be cancelled.

Last month, the charity announced it would be furloughing 20% of its workforce with the rest on reduced hours and pay as it anticipated a £6 million shortfall in income this financial year.

As well as the digital envelope, the charity is running daily quizzes and live-streamed religious services that supporters can take part in from the comfort of their own homes.

A quiz featuring former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Gogglebox’s Kate Bottley and Rev Giles Fraser as quiz masters saw more than 500 teams take part on a Facebook Premiere event to raise money for Christian Aid.

Fundraisers can also take up a 300,000 steps challenge throughout May, which is being run through Facebook.

Chris Morris, digital lead at Christian Aid, said: “Before the coronavirus crisis arrived in the UK, we had already been working on the digital transformation of this much-loved fundraising week. While the crisis is devastating for so many – including the communities in which Christian Aid works – it has accelerated our thinking in digital innovation and pushed us to engage new supporters and younger audiences in new ways.

“It is testament to the team and staff across Christian Aid that we were able to pivot our plans so effectively; we’re looking forward to seeing how digital can lead to stabilising our fundraising in new, sustainable ways at a time when the world’s poorest and most marginalised need us the most.”

Christian Aid Week manager Sophie Brightwell said: “Christian Aid was established after the Second World War when people across this country had lost so much but knew that refugees across Europe had were in a desperate situation. As we mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day at the start of Christian Aid Week my hope is that we can show that same compassion and resolve as we saw in a different time of crisis as together we show that love never fails.
“In recent weeks, we have been overwhelmed by the messages from our fundraising community, looking for guidance on how they can support us. Communities and churches across Britain have shown their resilience and adaptability since social distancing began and Christian Aid groups have inspired me with their inventiveness and resolve. It will be a different Christian Aid Week but with all the great hallmarks that we recognise of compassion, love and vision for a more just, equitable and healthy world. Please join us if you can.”
To find out more about Christian Aid Week’s digital fundraising, visit