Almost 1 in 3 are considering donating to a charity for Christmas instead of giving a gift Image: Open Government Licence v3.0

Charity regulator issues advice to donors on how to donate safely during festive period

The Charity Commission has issued advice to help the public give safely to charity during the festive period. Research found that almost a third of the public say they are considering donating to a charity for Christmas instead of giving a present.

The Commission welcomes the findings and is encouraging the public to follow some simple steps to ensure that their donations reach their intended causes.

The YouGov research found that 28% of those surveyed are considering donating to charity for Christmas this year instead of giving presents and that:

  • Over half of those are driven to do this by a desire to support specific causes
  • 28% per cent want to do this to give back to society generally (highest amongst 45-54 year olds (34%)
  • 10% said this as they are conscious of the environmental impact of gifts and want to reduce waste; the highest number of these respondents are London-based (18%)
  • 3% said donating is easier than buying a gift

Men more likely to give as it is ‘easier than shopping for gifts’

Further analysis of the findings shows that women are more likely to consider swapping Christmas presents for charity donations than men. Although men are twice as likely to do this because it is easier than shopping for Christmas gifts.

Households with 3 or more children were also more likely to consider donating to charity for Christmas than giving a present than any other group.

Helen Stephenson CBE, chief executive of the Charity Commission for England and Wales, said:

“We already knew that the British public are generous, and so I am thrilled that almost 1 in 3 of us are considering giving to charity instead of giving presents this Christmas. I want to make sure this benefits legitimate charities, so it’s really important that people give with their heads as well as their hearts by carrying out some simple checks.

“Swapping presents for donations is a purposeful step for many and we want to help people who will be thinking carefully about who to give to. There’s a charity for every cause – our online register allows the public to access key information about registered charities, including how they spend their money, what they do, and who their trustees are. I encourage everyone to use this tool to inform their choice.”

The Commission’s top tips for giving safely are:

  • Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information. You can do this by checking the charity’s name and registration number(most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered)
  • Check whether street collectors are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed and undamaged
  • Never feel under pressure by a fundraiser into making a donation immediately. Ask the collector for more information if in doubt
  • Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to check whether they are from a genuine charity
  • Check whether fundraising materials are genuine. They should feature the charity’s name, registered number and a landline contact number (check their contact details on the register

After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to the police. You can also complain about a charity to the Commission and the Fundraising Regulator.