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Charities tailor Christmas gifts to pandemic

18 December 2020

Hand cleansers and face masks among the items for sale

Traidcraft

A facemask available to buy from Traidcraft

A facemask available to buy from Traidcraft

CHARITIES are “making their annual gifts address the current pandemic”, despite facing a Christmas of falling donations and rising needs from service-users, the CEO of Bond, Stephanie Draper, has said.

Statistics released in October from a survey of 93 charities, conducted by Bond, an umbrella body that represents international development charities, suggested that 48 per cent of NGOs might not survive the next two years. Only 13 per cent expected their income to go up in 2021, and 24 per cent expected to close within the next year if their fund-raising situation did not improve.

Ms Draper said that he hoped that the public would support charities’ efforts to offer gifts that helped to prevent the spread of the virus.

“This is undoubtedly going to be an incredibly challenging Christmas. It is great to hear how both at home and abroad, charities are making their annual gifts address the current pandemic by including PPE equipment, as well as the basics that we know so many are in need of, such as shelter, health-care provisions, and food.

“Donations are falling, however, just as the need is increasing. Many smaller community-based organisations, including development and humanitarian ones, are struggling to survive; so we really do hope that both the British public and the Government stand by charities, and the many millions of people they help, through the tough times,” she said.

World VisionOne of the hand-washing stations with facilities supplied by World Vision’s gifts catalogue

CAFOD’s virtual gifts include a Keep Clean Kit, which provides items such as laundry powder and masks, as well as a set of PPE for a health-care worker containing gloves, masks, aprons, rubber boots, and goggles. The charity’s director, Christine Allen, said: “Every gift is an ongoing commitment to supporting vulnerable people overseas and an act of us standing together, in these challenging Covid-19 times.”

World Vision has a similar range, offering supporters the chance to buy anti-bacterial hand cleanser; mental-health support packs; and an activity pack for 100 children, which provides maths and literacy activities to children whose schools have closed because of the pandemic.

Action Aid’s gifts include a quarantine kit, hand sanitiser, antiseptic cleanser, a digital thermometer, paracetamol, masks and tissue paper, PPE to protect frontline workers, and a washing kit with water purification tablets, a water filter, handwash, and a bucket.

In October, Tearfund introduced a range of pandemic-themed gifts permanently available to supporters, including a scheme through which people can twin their taps and lavatories with those in developing countries. The CEO of Tearfund, Lorraine Kingsley, said: “This year has been all about flexibility and innovation in fund-raising — and we’ve been humbled by people’s generosity. Many people have told us that Covid has taught them to appreciate things they perhaps took for granted before, including water on tap, or bin collections.”

Other charities, such as Traidcraft, which specialises in providing Fairtrade goods, are offering cotton face masks in a range of sizes and designs for personal use.

USPG is encouraging people to fund their provision of pandemic equipment in a more indirect way. The charity has calendars available to buy for 2021 which contain photographs from the countries where the charity works. Funds from sales will be used to assist churches in countries such as Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and North India in their work, providing PPE, food packages, hand-washing facilities, and sanitising equipment.

CafodA Keep Clean Kit, one of the gifts available from CAFOD to help prevent the spread of Covid-19

Similarly, Embrace the Middle East has formed partnerships with local organisations to set up a hand-crafted mask-sewing project. The charity set itself the target of providing 15,700 masks to vulnerable communities by the end of the year, and plans to continue in January 2021.

The CEO, Tim Livesey, said that 2020 had provided a mixed picture in terms of funding, but he had hope for the future: “Despite all the hardship and disruption of 2020, our income has held up well, and we have not had to reduce our support.”

Steve MacLaughlin, the vice-president of Blackbaud, a company that provides advice and resources for charities, reported a recovery in giving, after a drop earlier in 2020. “The last three months of the year represent one third of all giving, and charities should continue to emphasise the importance of year-end giving to supporters,” he said.

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