‘Tis the season of goodwill, so what better way to spread some cheer than by supporting a good cause? Whether you donate money, time, or your unwanted belongings, you can easily help to make a positive difference. As a festive holiday, Christmas is all about giving and sharing as a celebration. Sadly, some people don’t have much to celebrate this time of year, or no money or family to celebrate with. There are many charities which aim to support different types of people in need. If you donate to charity, you can help to make the future a little brighter for some of these people. It takes very little effort from you, but your donations can go a long way. Here are a few ways you can donate to charity and help people out this Christmas season.
Today, December 15th, is actually Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day! Since it began in 2012, the day has become a kind of national holiday. Across the country, people at every school and workplace can pay in £2 to wear a Christmas jumper. People truly embrace Christmas Jumper Day as an opportunity to wear over-the-top festive knits and do some good at the same time. Every donation goes towards providing food, healthcare, and education to underprivileged children around the world.
If you forgot about Christmas Jumper Day, you can still donate to Save the Children in other ways. You can buy beautiful Christmas cards and wrapping paper from the online Christmas shop. If you’re looking for some small Christmas gifts, you can also buy tote bags, candles, and soaps. Not only are you donating to charity, you’re receiving ethical handmade products in return.
Or you could donate to charity on behalf of somebody else as a Christmas present to them. Select a “virtual gift” and you can send a card to the recipient with a message about how their donation will save lives. You can “buy” things like clothing, school supplies, toys, water filters, mosquito nets, food, or education for children living in poverty. The money you donate for the virtual gift will go towards relevant projects, such as education or health programmes.
In the UK, YMCA is the biggest provider of support and safe accommodation for otherwise homeless youth. The organization provides somewhere to stay and access to educational training to help young people get back on track in life. Christmas can be very difficult for adolescents with family problems, who might end up having to leave home. At this time of year when temperatures drop, nobody should be on the streets with nowhere to go. You can give a young person the gift of their own room and holistic support by making a donation.
YMCA accepts single or recurring donations of any amount of money you choose to give. Even a few pounds a month will help. If you want to see where your money goes, you can even become a Room Sponsor. Just £12 a month can pay for a safe home for young people escaping abusive backgrounds. You’ll receive a special gift and regular feedback on the progress of whoever lives in your sponsored room.
If you can’t quite spare £12 a month, why not team up with a friend or two to split the cost of donations between you? Then you can all take part in reading the updates as a group. YMCA has around 80 charity shops across England and Wales, so you can even donate by shopping! If you don’t want to buy, you can donate by providing goods for YMCA shops to sell. Donate your unwanted clothes, homeware and other accessories at no cost to you.
Elderly people are part of one of the most vulnerable age groups in society. Many older people experience feelings of isolation and the negative effect this has on their wellbeing. The charity Age UK provides advice, health services and emotional support for older people. Connecting with Age UK can massively improve their lives and help them feel less alone.
Christmas can be especially lonely for old people who have no family. You can help Age UK to help them in any of several ways. When you donate to charity, you don’t just have to give money. You can also give your time. Age UK runs a Befriender programme where you can either visit in person or speak with a lonely older person over the phone once a week. Volunteering to do this will only take up a little of your time, but you could make a great new friend. You’ll be matched with someone in your community according to your interests, so you’ll have things to talk about.
If you’re just too busy to commit to regular appointments like these, you can still support Age UK. Set up a monthly donation of £3, £5, or £10, or make a one-off donation of however much you’d like to give. You can also donate items to Age UK shops to be resold and make money for the charity. Any clothes, electronics, or furnishings that are in good condition but you no longer need can be given to Age UK, or they can collect them from you.
As a global movement to fight poverty, Oxfam aims to improve the living conditions of millions of people across the world. If you want to help make a difference but don’t have much yourself, consider buying Oxfam Unwrapped gifts for Christmas presents. Until 21st December you can get 50% off! This means you can provide survival kits, soap, seeds, fertilizer, solar energy, toilets, and livestock, as well as fixing wells and supporting refugees, for as little as £2 – £20.
If you want a more tangible gift in addition to the donation, you can add little extras like Fair Trade chocolate at checkout. You can also browse hundreds of “pre-loved” and often vintage items in Oxfam’s online shop. If you’re on a low budget, you can buy toys and books as Christmas presents while donating to charity at the same time. With free delivery, you don’t even need to go and visit your actual local Oxfam shop.
That said, why not have a clear out and take your old stuff down to Oxfam? Make some room for the newer things you’ll be getting for Christmas. If you want to donate secondhand clothes to Oxfam, you can even do it at a Marks and Spencer store. With “Shwopping” you can drop off your old clothes at Marks and Spencer for either recycling or resale in Oxfam shops.
The British Red Cross organization supplies first aid, emergency response, and health and social care, as well as supporting refugees and protecting people in areas of conflict. Based in the UK, the Red Cross has 8 overseas branches and operates wherever people need them. Red Cross volunteers do vital work in all the aforementioned areas.
You can help by making a single or recurring donation to a particular appeal. Support people closer to home by donating to the UK Solidarity Fund or London Fire Relief. After the terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower tragedy earlier this year, many families need your support more than ever this Christmas. Further abroad, many Caribbean islands were devastated in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria. Donate to the Hurricane Appeal to help the people who desperately need disaster relief. The ongoing conflicts in Syria and Myanmar have left millions of homeless refugees in need. If you don’t know where to direct your donation, you can donate to the General Fund to support people in crisis across the world.
You can also support the Red Cross by purchasing items from the online gift shop. Cards, gifts, books, toys and games, home accessories are all available. Donate to charity and help someone you know with a chronic illness or disability at the same time. The Red Cross sells products to assist with independent living and make life easier. You can buy first aid manuals and first aid kits as well if you need one.
Tips to Help You Be Charitable
When you make a donation, if you are a British taxpayer you can help the charity get more money using Gift Aid. Whether you make a financial donation online or in person, or donate old belongings, request a Gift Aid form. This allows the charity to claim the tax on your donation back from HMRC, meaning they could get an extra 25p for every £1 you donate. Your donations only qualify if they aren’t more than four times the tax you’ve paid in the current tax year. If you haven’t paid enough tax for future donations, you’ll need to tell the charity.
If you have some spare change in your purse or pocket, don’t be a Scrooge. Many shops have charity donation boxes at the tills you can drop your change into, even if it’s only a few coins. If you see someone selling the Big Issue, buy a copy. Or if you see a homeless person sleeping rough, give them whatever you can. A good way to help them without handing out cash is if you have a free coffee card. Many retailers like McDonald’s provide loyalty cards, where you can collect stickers or stamps to get a free drink. If yours is full up, a homeless person could use it to get out of the cold for a bit and have a hot drink. Have a heart and spread some warmth this Christmas.