Charities rethink Christmas post as Royal Mail strike looms

Major players fear loss of income at crucial time of the year for fundraising

Several large charities are considering changing their mail arrangements as postal strikes in the run-up to Christmas threaten to disrupt their biggest fundraising campaigns of the year.

Members of the Communication Workers Union yesterday voted in favour of more industrial action ballot and will walk out if the Royal Mail fails to reach an agreement with unions over its modernisation proposals.

A spokeswoman for Save the Children said the organisation was "always looking at other [postal] services". She said delivery delays could put people off from sending Christmas cards, which traditionally brought in "huge income" for third sector organisations.

Brendon Elliott, the RSPCA's personal fundraising manager, said that although the charity was trying to make its Christmas appeal as "non-time-specific as possible", a delay in delivery could have a massive impact on fundraising. He said the RSPCA, which sends about five million pieces of direct mail annually, was continually revisiting its postal plans.

Christian Aid sends about 330,000 pieces of Christmas appeal mail each year. A spokeswoman said the charity was considering alternative options for sorting its post but that this would solve only half the problem.

Charities have limited options because Royal Mail delivers post to the door.

In a statement, Mark Higson, managing director at Royal Mail, apologised for the disruption caused by previous union action and said the company would be "focusing on delivering excellent customer service over the vitally important run-up to Christmas".

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