Thursday, 17 December 2009

Charities and Business - The Christmas Crunch

This is one of the highlights of the year for many charities. In the run up to Christmas, they can rely on a higher place in many people's thoughts and in past years have been able to benefit from corporate Christmas generosity.

Things may be a little different this year. I have spoken recently to a number of charities who have seen a Christmas corporate donation of cash turn into, at best, a Christmas donation of time from employees. Now please don't think that any charity would be anything other than grateful that a gift of any sort is forthcoming. Gifts in kind, however, take a little more organisation that does cash. The charity needs to be sure what they want volunteers to do - and be sure that what they are doing is useful. Not only that, they need to provide work for the volunteers that satisfies them - while useful for the charity, it is unlikely that a charity for the homeless could (without some very good communications work) satisfy volunteers at Christmas by asking them to paint the offices, no matter how urgent that was.

I have looked from the other side too. A number of the law firms I work with have felt unable to support charities with cash as some of them have done in the past. Most are hoping to be able to increase their donation in kind, however, and some have said that this is how they see their support happening in the future.

So - a small crunch for charities this year. The key is to expect the change and have programmes ready for volunteers. Make sure that donations in kind are valued - for example if a team of ten from a law firm spend a day with a local children's charity, this could be worth, say, £2,500. The charity's administration should consider this value of donation and be appropriately grateful. If the Patron of the charity personally writes to donor who gift, say, over £10,000 then the Patron should also write to donors in kind of that value.

All gifts are good - every charity just needs to be ready to receive them.

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