Why giving to charity is just like giving Christmas presents

23 December 2009

This post is by Patrick Newton, who is currently an intern at NPC.

Christmas is a time when, amongst the relentless cheer and merriment, springs a will to help those in need. It is the time when giving to charity in the UK reaches its peak.

Usually the first question that we ask ourselves when considering donating at Christmas is ‘how much should I give?’

This question is important. But anyone who reads this blog regularly will realise that giving is not just about quantity, it is about quality. More money does not necessarily translate to greater impact on the lives of the needy, just as a more expensive Christmas present does not always impart greater pleasure or satisfaction for the recipient.

Indeed, the rules of giving to charity share some common features with the giving of presents.

Consider buying a young nephew a Christmas gift. What do you care most about – that you are seen to spend a great amount of money, or that you give him a present which is enjoys and that he finds satisfying?

Of course, if you have the interests of your nephew at heart, you will care far more about the latter. You won’t just ask ‘how much should I spend?’, you will think about what present will be best for your nephew, whether he wants or needs something specific, and how you can best spend the money you have to achieve this.

Similarly, with giving to charity, the crucial questions are about what the donation will achieve and how it will be spent. By far the most important consideration is the impact it will have on the lives of the people it is intended to help.

Like giving Christmas presents, donating to charity is about more than just the amount we spend. At a time when more people are dipping into their pockets, spreading the message about giving effectively is as important as ever.