Give a charity gift this Christmas
According to a recent YouGov survey, up to 24% of UK adults have reduced their level of charitable donations in the past year. Another poll, from Survey Sampling International, found that one in five plan to give less to charity as a result of the credit crunch.
But with Christmas round the corner, many charities such as Oxfam, NSPCC and UNICEF are urging people to give a meaningful gift to your friends and family without it having to cost the earth – there are plenty of charitable gift ideas out there, and all for under £20.
“Charitable giving is an essential part of the Christmas spirit, and we are urging people not to contribute to the 'giving crunch',” says Martin Geake, chief executive of charity Send a Cow. “But just as you would shop around for the best price on your Christmas presents, you should make sure your donations are spent effectively too.”
Even if you don't want to give charity gifts this Christmas, there is nothing to stop you from asking your friends and family to give to a good cause on your behalf in place of a present.
It is possible to make a difference and give a unique gift at the same time this festive season without having to worry about your bank balance. Take a look at our guide.
Spend: £5 - £10
For a £5 donation the NSPCC will send your child a personal letter from Santa. Not only will it make their Christmas special, you can be sure you will be helping the NSPCC help bring an end to cruelty to children (10% of the gift's value is donated to NSPCC too). Find out more at nspccwishes.org.uk
Help the Aged
You can help give an education to an orphaned child in Africa being raised by their grandparents by buying a £5 uniform - this will help them attend school and get the education they deserve. You could also buy a vegetable garden for £8, which can help an older person to feed their family and sell their goods at local markets.
Find out more on cowsnthings.org.uk
A £5 seed starter kit is a lifesaver for families in some of Africa's poorest countries. These kits include seeds that will grow into staples, such as maize and pulses that are able to grow in tough climates.
And every family that receives the kit is trained on how to get the best from their crops. Find out more at farmafricapresents.org.uk
Send a Cow
For £5 you can help show a group of farmers how to make 'magic muck', the perfect organic compost. The ingredients include plant wastes, ash from the fire, animal urine, top soil and lots of manure. Find out more at sendacow.org.uk
A £6 gift will provide nutritious dinners to school children in Brazil and Africa and help to keep them in school at the same time. For a little bit more at £9, Oxfam will install water pumps that will help supply clean and fresh water to families - a real lifesaving gift. Find out more at oxfam.org.uk/unwrapped
Spend: £10 - £20
Farm Africa / Action Aid
A £10 gift will buy a brood of chicks for a poor African family, which will provide eggs to eat and any extra can be sold on to buy supplies like medicine and schoolbooks.
Training is also provided on proper care for the chicks. You can even have your friend or relative receive a film of their gift in action emailed directly to them. Action Aid runs a similar scheme in Malawi.
Find out more at farmafricapresents.org.uk and giftsinaction.org.uk
You could bring a smile to a child with HIV or AIDS in Malawi with the Art in a Box gift. Just £12 will buy slates, sketch pads, crayons, chalks, paints and brushes.
For £14, UNICEF will identify a child who has been orphaned by AIDS and provide them with basic health care, proper nutrition, school uniform and supplies and give them psychosocial support. Find out more at unicef.org.uk
For £15 you could buy a family in Kenya, Zimbabwe or Bangladesh a goat, which can be used for milk and breeding. Any extra milk and offspring can be sold to help pay for food, medicines and their children's education.
Find out more at practicalpresents.org
Just £16 will buy a reliable community radio, giving people in remote areas access to news and information and even early disaster warnings, such as floods and tsunamis. The radios are a vital source of information during the flood season in Bangladesh, for example.
Find out more at oxfam.org.uk/unwrapped
£20 will give poor, widowed and other disadvantaged women in Afghanistan the chance to gain skills through workshops such as sign-painting courses. These workshops help women to improve their confidence and literacy, and helps them to find work and support their families.
Find out more at presentaid.org
And the rest…
If you want to go that little bit further it’s easy to make a donation online, and you can even buy some seasonal goods too. Oxfam has a whole range of Christmas wares, such as Christmas cards, decorations and even fair trade chocolate coins.
And, if you’re thinking about buying gifts from Amazon or eBay this year – be sure to visit NSPCC’s website first. As soon as you buy something using the link on the site, the NSPCC will get up to 10% of the purchase price at no extra cost to you. Find out more at nspccwishes.org.uk/shopping
As the credit crunch rumbles on we're all feeling the pinch, but you don’t have to break the bank to give to charity. Just a few pounds can make a real difference, and make a unique present too.