Christmas was a time for giving, despite the credit crunch

14 January 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
Britons put the plight of others ahead of their own financial hardship this Christmas, with almost a third of Christmas charity appeals seeing donations rise.

According to the Institute of Fundraising and the Charities Aid Foundation, which surveyed 35 charities in the UK, 58 per cent of charity Christmas appeals raised at least as much, if not more, than during the 2007 festive season.

While many charities are still counting up the donations from the 2008 Christmas period, five have already said that they received tens of thousands of pounds more than during the same period the year before.

Commenting on Brits' unselfish ways, Lindsay Boswell, chief executive at the Institute of Fundraising, said: "This is great news as before Christmas many charities were worried that they would see a fall in donations. Those charities who had successful campaigns will be celebrating as this will help them to help more people.

British consumers have had their budgets squeezed during the last 12 months as mortgage rates and fuel bills both soared, and John Low, CEO of the Charities Aid Foundation, said that the survey's results illustrate how "the UK is still one of the most generous nations in the world and many people are continuing to think of others even though they may have less money themselves."

Charities desperately need this Christmas bonus, they say, as for 37 per cent of them the economic downturn is expected to increase the demand for their services.

This is especially true following previous research by the Charity Commission, carried out in September last year, which found that one in four charities which collect monetary donations had reported a fall.

"The credit crunch started in the housing market and this in turn has created a massive increase in demand for our services." said Alan Gosschalk, director of fundraising at housing and homelessness charity Shelter.

"In the last six months a total of 463,000 people have looked to our housing experts for help and advice, and the figure continues to rise as the financial crisis deepens and unemployment and personal debt continue to spiral."

In December 2008, Oxfam announced that it had raised £50billion through its gift catalogue Oxfam Unwrapped, since the scheme was launched in 2004. The act of giving a camel or a donation towards a child's education as a gift on behalf of a loved one has become an increasingly popular solution to birthdays, weddings and Christmas presents.

Consumers can donate to charity in a number of ways – directly by giving money, or through gift schemes available from a number of charities, such as CAFOD, FarmAfrica and World Vision.

Charity-minded shoppers can also give money every time they spend with charity credit cards, which usually make a donation when the account is opened, and donate a further percentage of each spend to the charity of the cardholder's choosing.

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