At this time of year thoughts are invariably turning to Christmas – the season of giving. But with the economy in such a bad state, is it inevitable that charities will lose out? Or will you be generous this Christmas?
Anyone braving the high streets over the next few weeks will probably find it even harder than usual to avoid being accosted by a chugger. No surprise there, what with Christmas just around the corner.
However, as irritating as chuggers are, at least you can tell what they’re up to. It’s less clear when it comes to retailers’ so-called good intentions.
What’s wrong with charity Christmas cards?
Take charity Christmas cards. Whether you regularly give to good causes or hardly give it a thought, these cards seem like a no-brainer. After all, most of us will buy up packs of cards to send to friends and relatives, and for little, if any extra cost, a charity will benefit. Makes you feel all warm inside, doesn’t it? Maybe not.
When we looked at the offering in major retailers, we found that the amount that’s passed on to good causes is relatively low, often between just 10 and 20%.
So, anyone who really wants to make the most of charity Christmas cards would be better off buying them direct from your chosen charity, either online or in store.
No spare money, no problem
Given the high costs of covering the festive season, many of us will feel that we can’t afford to give to charity, however much we’d like to. However, there are ways to support a good cause without it hitting your bank balance too hard.
If you shop online, charity intermediaries may provide the ideal answer. There’s loads of these kinds of websites, which let you raise money for charities by doing sponsored runs (not a bad way to work off all the festive cheer) like Just Giving, or even buy pressies by clicking through to retailers’ sites, such as Everyclick.com. The retailers pay the intermediaries a commission, a proportion of which is then donated to a good cause.
Let the taxman pay
Another way to give without feeling the sting is to use Gift Aid, which lets charities claim back tax on purchases and donations. So, if you’re planning to buy a joint National Trust membership costing £88, the charity gets an extra £22 courtesy of Inland Revenue, if you’re a standard rate taxpayer.
Of course, if you have some spare cash, you can buy products from charities direct, but think carefully before letting your heart rule your head. You may think it’s great to buy your parents sponsorship of an ailing donkey or a goat for a village in Africa. But how thrilled your recipient will be is… debatable.
Ultimately, you might be better off giving them what they want and donating some money direct to a good cause. That way you don’t risk not being invited back for Christmas dinner. Will you be giving to charity this Christmas, and if so, how do you think is the best way to do it?