It’s that time of the year again where we’re frantically buying presents for loved ones, decorating our homes and planning Christmas dinner. Despite the hectic nature of it all this is a great time to think more about giving, and to encourage others to do so too.
#GivingTuesday took place on 2nd December and promoted just this; it asked people to donate to charities and to make their donations public, motivating more people to join in. The idea was launched in the US in 2012, and this is the first year it has been promoted in the UK as well. It was a cleverly timed antidote to the shopping frenzies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and the event’s promoters, Charities Aid Foundation, reported a 43% increase in donations compared with any other Tuesday this year.
It’s fantastic that campaigns like this have an immediate high impact by increasing interest in charitable giving. However, such seasonal awareness-raising also bring new opportunities to encourage one another to think more deeply about charity. In fact, in the past few weeks students in Cambridge have been doing just this. A campaign, initiated by medical student Ravi Patel, is inviting people this Christmas and New Year to take Giving What We Can’s pledge to give 10% of their income to effective charities. So far it’s raised incredible support and this December Giving What We Can has already received more new pledgers than in any previous month. Besides joining the campaign, here are a few ideas for anyone who would like to really make a difference this giving season:
Keeping a lookout for offers of donation matching is a brilliant way to make your donations multiply in impact. This usually involves an individual or organisation offering to 'match' the amount donated to their cause. For example, for every £1 donated, they will add £1 of their own money. Excitingly, this December a member of Giving What We Can has offered to match donations up to a total of £5000 when made through his fundraising page for the Against Malaria Foundation, one of our top charities. In addition, Charity Science will double the amount raised, resulting in the original donations being quadrupled! For anyone considering where to give this December, this is an option well worth checking out.
Years of dedicated research have led up to Giving What We Can’s recommendations of its top charities. These are all organisations which we believe will use your donation in the most effective way. If you find the evidence compelling, you could make a donation to one of these as a gift to a loved one, or ask your friends and family to donate on your behalf. One of the charities, the Against Malaria Foundation, even offers a gift option for buying mosquito nets which allows the gift recipient to track where their nets go.
If you are already interested in, or perhaps already involved with, effective altruism, why not communicate this to others around you? We already list our pledgers’ names on our site to encourage openness and enthusiasm about giving. In addition, Christmas offers many of us valuable time to catch up with our friends and family, and can be a good chance to discuss the things which matter most to us. It can sometimes be difficult to persuade people to give more, and to more effective organisations. One of our earlier blog posts offers useful advice on ways to discuss ideas which encourage others to be more receptive to them.
Try Giving is an excellent option for people who want to increase their charitable impact but don’t feel ready to commit to the Giving What We Can pledge. You can choose what percentage of income you aim to give and how long you wish to donate for. After your initial donation period ends, you can then decide what to do next. If it worked for you, you can extend the period, increase the percentage you give, or take the pledge. This is a brilliant way to ensure that your charitable giving continues into the New Year.
These are just a few thoughts about ways we can all make the most of seasonal giving and maximise our impact on the lives of others as we move into 2015. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at Giving What We Can!