Posted: 26 November 2012

It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas

I’ve worked on our carol singing appeal for the last two years, so as we begin unpacking the Santa hats and song books, I start feeling 'Christmassy' even before the first note is sung.

It’s lovely to think of our supporters all over the country having fun and spreading festive warmth through a good old carol sing – especially as it ultimately warms the lives of the children supported by our projects and children’s centres. 

We are lucky to have many teams of carollers who brave the cold each year to sing and encourage passers by to support our work by donating a little change. 

You can organise an event, big or small

We encourage events of all shapes and sizes, with collections of around 10 carollers in a good spot raising £150 to £200 from generous passers-by.

You could also think a bit bigger and try something that gets all the community together. For example, the Altrincham Fundraising Committee in the Manchester area raises about £3000 with their annual event, which began 20 years ago.

They have a well-honed and well-received format, so I wanted to share their story to show how a carol event can be wonderful for all those involved, and ultimately for our work.

Altrincham Committee’s school choir spectacular

Jackie, chair of the committee, described how her group prepares for its annual carol-singing event. She said: 

'Every year, we get some school choirs into Manchester Cathedral for the "Sing for Christmas" evening, which fills the cathedral with singing. Afterwards the streets around are crowded with happy children and their supporters as they make their way home.

'Because the cathedral is in such demand at this time of year, we need to book an early December date two years ahead, and then in September we contact a number of schools asking if their choirs would like to sing for The Children’s Society. Up to 10 are selected, with choirs limited to 40 in each because of limited space.

‘With 400 children in the choirs, and around 1000 in total with their parents and others, the cathedral is full. We ask all choirs to learn two special carols, and send them the music to learn by heart. They can also choose to sing an item of their own choice if they wish and include instruments as well. On the day of the service, we have three well-known carols on the service sheet for everyone in the cathedral to join in. 

'The cathedral’s vergers and members of the Altrincham Fundraising Committee help on the day, with my husband as the "Master of Ceremonies"! A member of the cathedral staff does a reading and leads the prayers and a representative of The Children’s Society talks about its work for a few minutes. The rest of the service is filled with the carols.

The concert is 'the start of Christmas'

'We raise the money mostly from tickets, which we sell in advance with help from the teachers. We ask £5 for adults, £4 for concessions and £3 for any children. Envelopes for a retiring collection are also given out and we encourage people to complete the Gift Aid section to give the charity 25% more. The only costs are for administration, for the purchase of music and a donation to the cathedral. (This is based on their general charge for the use of the building and the services of their staff and organist).

'As it’s in the first week of December, people have said they see it as "the start of Christmas". And although it is held in the Anglican cathedral, we have children of many faiths and from all types of Christian schools, so it really brings everyone together. We really enjoy the evening and everyone loves the happy atmosphere in support of the work of The Children’s Society. All this has been made possible by the kind support of the dean and chapter of Manchester Cathedral over many years.'

Sing, sing, sing!

You could do a similar event of any size in a school, church or community venue – to bring children and parents together and raise money for the young people supported by our work.

Alternatively, you could do a traditional house-to-house sing-song or simply have friends and family over for mulled drinks and mince pies, and ask everyone to donate the cost of an evening out.

Learn about how you can get involved in carol singing, or try our new Carol Singing Challenge on Facebook.

By Loretta Jones, Regional Fundraising Coordinator

Read more and get involved

By Loretta Jones - Fundraising and events team

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