Saturday, December 07, 2013

Christmas charity donations

Christmas treeA very long time ago, I agreed with my family that instead of giving each other Christmas presents, we should all give money to charity instead. We're not a rich family, but it's true that we're not a poor family either, and the annual Christmas present buying exercise where we all spent money giving each other stuff that we probably don't really need starting seeming a bit gross to me. Giving money to charity instead seems much more sensible. Although I'm not really a Christian, I was brought up as a Christian, so I know that in many ways this idea is very much in tune with the Christmas spirit.

Initially I asked my family to suggest worthy charities, but for the last six years, I've been asking readers to give me suggestions for Christmas charity donations instead (see 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012). This year there's around £1200 to give away, and all sensible suggestions are welcome :-).

Update 13-Dec-2013: charity donation result.

This year I decided that I really shouldn't donate to charities that generally have an income which is higher than their spending. This information is readily available from the Charity Commission website, and it was interesting assessing the charities that I donated to last year using this criterion.

I've supported Crisis (charity number 1082947) for many years now, however I decided to drop them this year. For the last couple of years their spending has been at least 10% below their income, e.g. spending £19.3m in the year to June 2012 against income of £21.5m, so I don't think they need any support. It's the same story for the Albert Kennedy Trust (charity number 1093815) who've had surpluses every year for the last five years, e.g. income of £690k against spending of £543k in the year to June 2012. Diveristy Role Models (charity number 1142548) is a relatively new charity that was suggested to me last year, however they're also in surplus, spending only £59k against an income of £95k in the year to August 2012.

My good friend Close Encounters had a couple of suggestions. The charity looks excellent, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to be a registered charity in the UK. I always donate via my Charities Trust account, and that means that I can only give to organisations that are registered as charities in the UK. And Close Encounters's other suggestion seems a much less worthy cause to me, because at Christmas I'm really looking to support people in need, rather than help buy paintings that will continue to exist while people all around the world starve.

However, I have found a few charities to donate to :-). Last year and this year, a reader asked me to support Papyrus (charity number 1070896), so I've given them £300. The suggestions of 'Christmas Spirit' look sensible too (the first two of course!), and the Philippine Red Cross seems a popular choice at the moment for obvious reasons. Hence I've given £300 to the British Red Cross Philippines Typhoon Appeal (charity number 220949), and £200 to World Vision (UK) (charity number 285908). For the rest, I've gone back to a couple of charities that I've supported in past years. I've always thought that GMFA (charity number 1076854) does good work so I've given them £200. Finally, a few years ago there was a reader who always used to ask me to support Médecins Sans Frontières (Charity number 1026588) and I always thought that that they seemed especially worthy so I've given them £200 as well.

Happy Christmas everyone :-). GB xxx


Christmas Spirit said...

1. International Red Cross with a specific donation to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines.

2. World Vision (UK) - An international children's charity

3. Me - A struggling postgraduate student! LOL! ;P

Anonymous said...

+1 on Philippine Red Cross. Merry Xmas GB!

Mind Of Mine said...

As much as I want to say, the Philippines, they have the entire world focus at the moment. Have you thought of looking into a smaller local charity. You would be surprised how many hospices and childrens care centres are barely hanging on and don't have the means for lengthy charity campaigns.

close encounters said...

this charity does some good stuff

or if you want to add something to london

Anonymous said...

Hi GB,

I suggested PAPYRUS last year, and was really grateful you donated. Did msg you to say thanks.

Young suicide rates in the UK are on the increase, and it's tough for those left behind who rarely have any answers. PAPYRUS helps people pick up the pieces and offers real help to youngsters contemplating suicide, if they can get to talk to them.

Still a lot of taboo surrounding suicide.

I think your familes idea is great, and have suggested mine does the same.

Thanks again for giving,


GB said...

I've updated this post now with the details of who I've donated to this year. Suggestions still welcome :-), but they'll probably now have to wait until Christmas 2014!

GB xxx

Christmas Spirit said...

Oh thanks a lot GB for accepting my recommendations! I thank you on behalf of the children of the world. Have a very warm and safe Christmas! God bless! :)

Hedgie said...

Merry Christmas GB! Good to see you are continuing with your Christmas tradition :-)
I'm a bit confused about your worries regards charities' incomes vs outgoings - surely a wise charity would keep something back to cover their costs, especially in these uncertain times?

GB said...

Well Hedgie, people like me donate to charities because we want to help our chosen causes. I want to see as much of my money as possible spent on the causes, and as little as possible spent on administration. If a charity consistently spends more less than its income, then I can't help thinking that a portion of my money isn't being put to the use that I intended. For example with Crisis (charity number 1082947), which is a charity to help single homeless people, they've had a surplus in four of the last five years. I'm sure that there are still lots of single homeless people who need help, so I don't understand why the money isn't being spent? For me, that's beyond the prudent need to keep a little in reserve to help them survive in lean times.

GB xxx

Hedgie said...

Thanks, GB. I think your method a good rule of thumb and if enough people thought like you it would encourage charities to send more of their income on their mission and less on admin, although obviously there will be individual circumstances in each case. I have been shocked at the attitude of fund raising staff of a major national charity we are trying to work with - their bungling has lost them a small amount this year, but potentially far more in the years to come. That sort of behaviour won't show up in their published statistics however.

Hedgie said...

I have to add not one of the charities mentioned on your post or this thread, however :-)

close encounters said...

Damn - zero from two - must try harder !

Understand your reasons ... though next time we visit an art gallery i will remind you !!

btw, I'm not sure about your logic on avoiding charities which spend less than they receive. Any financially sound entity should aim to put an amount into reserves each year (partly to allow them to commit to long term charitable expenditure in the knowledge that they have the reserves which will ensure they can meet their obligations, even if their annual donations drop), and some of the underspends you mention were very small.
Also, both Crisis and AKT had large increase in donations this year (which in itself may warrant you donating elsewhere) - so it's not surprising that the increase in their charitable activity should lag behind. Surely as long as they do spend your donation eventually, you should be happy ?
These points particularly apply to the new charity!

At least you found good homes for you cash :)

Tim The Nomad said...

I've given to Macmillan. The website has been a life saver for me and my sanity.

First off, it gave me sensible information about lung cancer after my husband's diagnosis, second the various groups have been my saviours, firstly lung cancer forum, then the bereaved spouses and now I blog there (infrequently) about being a gay man "left behind" and what my life is like.

Tomorrow it will be 11 months since he died. I don't think I could have got this far without Macmillan and some of the wonderful people I met there, actual and virtual. That's not to say it's all been plain sailing.

Anonymous said...

The Philippines and her people say thanks for your help. :)