Social Media can Enhance a Fine Tradition Like Christmas Daddies

Our favourite charity at Nicom is Christmas Daddies, an organization that has been dedicated to helping children throughout the Maritime Provinces since 1964. No doubt most readers have seen the telethons at one time or another, proceeds of which are distributed by the Salvation Army to needy families.

For a number of years now, we have been managing the Christmas Daddies web site and this year it is going through its fourth design. Besides giving it a new look and feel, the new design incorporates many Social Media aspects and for this reason I thought it would be of interest to my business readers. I met with Matthew Carleton who developed the site to discuss the objectives for the new site, and he told me some very interesting things I’d like to share with you.

When December rolls around, updates to the Christmas Daddies site start to happen at a frenetic pace, with time-sensitive information that must be updated rapidly. The site outgrew the old Content Management System (CMS), which not only made it difficult to make changes, but also caused those changes to sometimes damage the design, so a new CMS (we chose Expression Engine) was implemented.

A frequent web update for Christmas Daddies is the addition of photos, and the old CMS made this very awkward. Carleton solved this problem by incorporating Flickr, a popular online photo sharing service. Now not only are photos easier to add and view, but an entire new audience of Flickr users are exposed to Christmas Daddies.

Another addition this year is a Facebook group, with a link back to the Web site. At the time of this writing, the group has over 1300 members and it is continually growing. These group members can look at photos, leave messages, etc., the same as any other use of Facebook. By connecting Facebook with the web site, Christmas Daddies is allowed to expand its reach into that world.

Another way Christmas Daddies being promoted is via Twitter. This is new so it hasn’t grown very much, but it holds great potential. At the present, there is a “follow us on Twitter” button and the objective this year is to build a base of followers.

Plans for future years is to build on this by giving donors the option of having their donations tweeted if desired. So not only will donations scroll across a TV screen as they presently do, but they will be tweeted (and hopefully re-tweeted) all over the world. I wouldn’t be surprised if people who never heard of the Maritimes make donations simply because it seems like a good cause.

Besides being televised on CTV and /A, this year the telethon will also be available online, via streaming video on

As you can see Christmas Daddies is taking on a truly global presence, something any organization can do in this day and age. Such is the power of social media, and by incorporating some digital marketing with traditional means, Christmas Daddies is spreading its word. We’ve also implemented Google Analytics, a means of capturing statistics on site visits.

The only thing that hasn’t changed is the donation page, which is a secure portal for accepting credit card donations. But the link to it is enhanced, with a clearly-visible “Donate Now” button on the home page.

On the creative side of things, Carleton built upon the work of Genevieve Kelly, who created the initial look and feel and original design concepts. This brought the site to modern standards, such as displaying for higher resolution monitors and having a more standard location for menu items. The site also has a fanciful fresh look, one that is better organized and easier to navigate.

Roxanne Robinson, Executive Director of Christmas Daddies, stated that her objectives in this latest series of web site modifications and related social media was to expand the reach of Christmas Daddies beyond the traditional telethon. “We’re very excited at the new direction and the potential that is holds for us”, she said in a recent interview.

The new Christmas Daddies web site is at While you’re thinking of it, why not have a look, and give that big new “Donate Now” Button a try. The telethon airs on Sunday December 5.

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