The season of goodwill was upon us, and didn’t we know it!
From Children in Need to Text Santa, Giving Tuesday to The Big Give’s Christmas Challenge – not to mention the plethora of charity singles vying for number one – the festive period is bursting with charitable causes appealing for help, and filled with festive cheer we’re happy to oblige.
In a survey of people’s giving habits at Christmas conducted by the Charity Commission and Fundraising Standards Board, it was found that “85% of people said that they give directly to charity at Christmas, donating an average of around £40 to the good causes that they care about”. This marks a 5% rise in giving compared to the rest of the year.
Charity Christmas campaigns especially have proven to be a success.
This year was the first UK Giving Tuesday. Set up in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, Giving Tuesday was seen as the answer to Black Friday; an antidote, let’s say, to the materialism and over-indulgence of the Thanksgiving period. It has been incredibly successful worldwide. UK charities saw a 270% rise in donations in 24 hours compared to the first Tuesday in December last year. Localgiving.com recorded a remarkable 885% increase in donations for small, local organisations. Visa Europe recorded more than £2,500 donated every minute on Visa cards in the UK.
Giving Tuesday partners reached across the whole of the third sector and arts organisations took this opportunity to market themselves alongside charity giants such as Oxfam and Water Aid. They were encouraged to celebrate the day: the Royal Albert Hall released behind-the-scenes videos; Artsadmin organised a special event to launch a new fundraising campaign for the biennial art festival Two Degrees; the National Portrait Gallery unveiled a portrait of celebrated Philanthropist Ted Turner; StreetArtDrop held a combined exhibition and fundraiser, to name but a few, all using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to reach as many people as possible. Tweeters sent over 2,500 related tweets an hour; some suggesting that donors use the money that they saved on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to give to charity. It became a phenomenon overnight.
With all this festive success, we should question why this attitude of giving more at Christmas cannot be continued year-round.
In her article “Why every Tuesday should be Giving Tuesday”, Ariana Huffington hopes that philanthropy becomes part of society’s everyday life. She dreams of “a day when families look at their weekend plans and say, ‘what are we going to do this weekend - are we going to shop, see a movie, volunteer?’, a day when volunteering is just a natural thing - not something exceptional or something that makes us feel particularly noble. Just something that we do.”
Imagining a world where philanthropy is the day-to-day norm might seem naive, but if we continue to use Christmas as a platform to educate the world about charitable giving, the more likely it is to embed in the nation’s consciousness and the idea of charitable giving will become more common.
I hope everyone had a very merry - and philanthropic - Christmas and New Year break. Let me leave you with this final thought about Christmas, before turning our thoughts to the year ahead.
“Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself...”
~Norman Wesley Brooks “Let Every Day Be Christmas”, 1976.
Here’s to a successful 2015!