/ Money, Shopping

How much is donated from your charity Christmas cards?

Christmas card

When you buy Christmas cards do you pay attention to whether a donation goes to charity – and if so, do you base your decision on how much is passed on? If you care about the cause on the card, maybe you should.

If you’ve started doing your Christmas shopping, you may well have some charity Christmas cards ready to write. And why not – after all, it’s an easy and effective way to give a little to those in need at a time of excessive spending.

Christmas card culprits

But how much of the card price actually makes it to the charity? Last week’s annual Scrooge Awards from the Charities Advisory Trust is a reminder that it pays to be vigilant when choosing which cards will make it onto your friends’ mantelpieces.

The awards exist to highlight who’s using charity to help boost sales, but actually giving very little to charity. This year their award goes to Cards Galore, selling one card that donated a miserly 4.2% to the British Heart Foundation.

Having researched this subject last year we’re disappointed, but not surprised, to hear these stats. On the upside, though, Harrods won a special ‘Reformed Sinner’ award for giving 10% of all card proceeds to charity this year. We’d like to think the change was, at least partly, down to our expose of how Harrods was breaching cards regulations last year.

How to choose the right charity cards

In 2008 we found that more than half of us bought charity Christmas cards, so how can we make sure our purchase isn’t pointless?

  • If you buy your cards from a high street retailer, look to see if it tells you how much is being passed on to the charity – it’s a legal requirement to display this information (and something that we found missing on Harrods cards last year).
  • With no legislation to control the amount going to charity, companies can donate as little as 1% and still label it a ‘charity card’. Last year we found some WHSmith cards donating 100%, while other retailers only passed on 6% – make sure you look before you buy.
  • Buying direct from a charity shop, or its website, guarantees they’ll get 100% of the profits after production and distribution costs.
  • Organisations like Cards for Good Causes and Card Aid sell cards online and ensure that a decent proportion goes direct to the charities.

Are you shocked by how little can be passed on to charity – or do you always choose yours cards carefully? Before this puts you off altogether, I’ll hit you with one more stat. Charities earn an estimated £50m a year from cards, so there’s definitely value in choosing them wisely.

Sophie Gilbert says:
16 November 2010

Yes, it is always shocking to hear how retailers’ cynicism is proportional in reverse to the amount they pass on to charity. Naming and shaming isn’t a new concept, but giving Harrods the Scrooge Award shows that it can be very effective (with a little help from your good selves), if the retailer is shamable that is. It is very good PR to then give a Reformed Sinner award. It in effect gives the reformed retailer free advertising, people who may have decided not to buy the retailer’s cards any longer do so again, and more money is passed on to charity.

For years I’ve bought Survival International cards. They produce their own cards, sell online and ALL the profit goes to the charity. They’re not the cheapest, £5.99 for 10 but have wonderful photos of tribal people (especially from the snowy north – very christmassy) or artwork from Quentin Blake. They also sell 5 packs of 10 for the price of 4! Good value and a bit different.