The charitable side of... Christmas

Indira Das-Gupta

Despite the festive period being a time for giving, research shows people do not give any more to charity than at other times.

It's billed as the season of goodwill to all men, but research published by GuideStar this week shows that 54 per cent of people are not planning to give more than usual at Christmas.

"I don't think there's any evidence to suggest that an appeal at Christmas will be more successful than, say, a disaster appeal in May," says Cathy Pharoah, director of research at the Charities Aid Foundation. "I don't think charities are competing with gift expenditure."

Nevertheless, there is a flurry of charitable fundraising activity every Christmas, with most charities launching special themed appeals in December or even November.

One charity that sees a major increase in donations over the festive period is Crisis (whose 'open Christmas' is pictured), formerly known as Crisis at Christmas. More volunteers are taken on as early as August to deal with the extra work. The charity raised £6m last year, £2.5m of which was raised between November and January.

Ruth Ruderham, a fundraising manager at Crisis, says: "People spend a lot of money on their loved ones at Christmas, so they tend to appreciate what they've got and be more mindful of charitable appeals."

The GuideStar research also finds alternative gifts are growing in popularity, with 23 per cent of people in the survey saying they planned to opt for one. Charities have responded by looking at finding new ways to make their gift list stand out.

Lucinda Frostick, PR and communications manager at the Institute of Fundraising, says: "People are more receptive at Christmas and, because it's more competitive then, this is when you often see some really exciting charity campaigns."

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