The charitable side of ... Valentine's Day

Indira Das-Gupta

Even if their causes are not obviously romantic, lots of charities are chasing some action on the day of love.

Forget saying it with flowers - if you are a romantic with a conscience, why not say it with an acre of rainforest or even a Braille book this Valentine's Day?

Like Clinton Cards, the voluntary sector has grown increasingly adept at using landmarks in the calendar to cash in, and 14 February is no exception to this rule.

For the British Heart Foundation, which recently launched a fundraising campaign to coincide with the event, Valentine's Day offers an obvious link. The campaign is appealing to people to "have a heart" and make a donation to help fund more BHF nurses.

Similarly, it's hard to imagine how the website www.charityflowers.co.uk could fail to benefit from the day, which cynics might say is less about romance and more about cold-hearted commercialism.

But even where the link is less obvious, charities are pulling out all the stops to turn the day to their advantage.

The World Land Trust, for example, is encouraging people to ditch the roses and buy their loved ones a piece of rainforest. The National Library for the Blind has also used the increased demand for alternative gifts by linking up with the Good Gifts Catalogue to sell Braille books and giant print books for visually impaired children. The charity is encouraging people to wear something red on the day to show they are "passionate about reading" and make a £1 donation.

As for those charities that haven't launched a Valentine's Day campaign this year, it's probably a safe bet that they are already working on their Easter campaigns. A fair trade chocolate egg anyone?

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