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Giving charity donations as Christmas gifts can be harder than you realise

As Christmas approaches, charities across the UK are embarking on festive fundraising campaigns – often their biggest campaigns of the year.

As they do, they may wish to bear in mind a story I heard recently.

A friend’s grandmother has taken the laudable decision that, instead of buying Christmas presents for her nearest and dearest this year, she will donate £500 to the charity Sightsavers .

How wonderful, you might reply. If only there were more people like her.

Or, if you’re one of the more driven fundraisers, you might be wondering how your charity could encourage more people to do this. Oxfam, for instance, has made great strides in persuading people to swap presents for donations.

But wait – things are not as simple as they seem. How did this generous donor’s son-in-law feel about her announcement that he shouldn’t expect a gift?

“I can’t believe it,” he huffed to another relative. “It’s Christmas and we’re not getting a present! I think it’s because she doesn’t like us.” The charity donation had sparked the reopening of an old family conflict.

There’s a lesson in here for festive fundraisers. Yes, do encourage people to swap their Christmas gift budget for a donation – but be aware of its implications. If a donor’s gift has given them a headache, they might need more thanks than you realise.