The Best of Christmas 2023

Christmas lights

The Best of Christmas 2023

This week we're looking back at the holiday season. It's been a tough time for a lot of people, but the charity sector continues to rise to the challenges the nation faces. Read on as we share some of our favourite stories about how charities made this year's Christmas fundraising a little bit special.

Ben Roberts

January is sometimes said to be the least exciting month – it’s all the grey skies of Winter without the build up to the holidays that we enjoy. So even though we’re back and hitting the ground running for 2024, for a bit of fun this week we’re going to be looking back at the small charities that made a big difference this Christmas, either through their fantastic supporters, incredible impact, or just by making fundraising a bit more fun over the holidays.


Making the best of post-Holiday giving

We’ve noted before that charity shop visits increase around Christmas, with a growing number of people – a third of the public at this time last year – telling us that the holiday season gives them more cause to stop in. A similar number say they donate more around this time. But, many small charities are making the most of the holidays in alternative ways.

First, what to do with the less-than-stellar gifts we’re all bound to get from time to time? Well, several charities have made appeals to their local area to send these on to charity shops, capitalising on this being the perfect time for a donation drive. It's a no-brainer, but vitally important to communicate to the public where their re-gift can do the most good. And wouldn't it be great to find the perfect recipient for that present that your Aunt Lucy really should have have checked was in the right size before buying?

Another holiday tradition we're seeing more and more is for Christmas tree collection and recycling. Getting rid of a tree can be a real pain, but for a small donation there are many charities who are collecting and disposing of trees around the country. It's the perfect way for a charity to engage the local community with a friendly service and a smile while taking home vitally-needed funds. And who knows, you might recognise some of the wood-chips around your local park as last-year's tree!


Creative fundraising

There's something about the holidays that make fundraising events and opportunities even more compelling, and this year there was no shortage of exciting chances to donate coming from all around the UK and Ireland. Some charities make the most of this time by making traditional appeals in the spirit of the season. Donations taken at popular Christmas light displays, communal Christmas karaoke, or gift appeals for local children found phenomenal success this year. But some appeals are zanier than others: for example, what says Christmas better than a tractor run? It's a strange concept to a Londoner like me, but up and down the country tractors decked out in Christmas finery paraded through their communities while money was collected for vital causes.

And how about a feat of athleticism and bravery? Alongside Cancer Research UK's 12 Dips of Christmas challenge, which saw some huge successes from their clearly VERY passionate supporters, ice-cold swims got a lot of attention this year. Annual traditions making an advantage of the cold weather draw huge crowds to participate and even more to spectate and sponsor their friends and family to brave the cold. 

These events are great for one-off collections, but it goes deeper. Engaging communities and rallying supporters around these events creates a sense of fun and fellowship which is likely to bring those on the periphery of your cause towards the centre, giving them a strong connection with your brand and making you their likely go-to cause in the future.


Helping those most in need

Every charity we've mentioned here, as well as the people supporting these causes, deserves a lot of praise for their efforts. Many have been in aid of those who need it most: this time of year can be far from joyful, with the cold and loneliness of the season dramatically impacting health and wellbeing. It's worth reflecting on the huge impact that initiatives can have on these lives, such as the recent pledge from St Mungo's and Crisis to extend their accommodation scheme for rough sleepers. We've seen more local charities are making a difference as well. Homelessness charity Cymorth Cymru shared the stories of their beneficiaries this week alongside a vital message urging for support from the public and government, using their voice to not only benefit themselves, but other housing charities around Wales and the UK. 

This isn't the only way that people can be brought in from the cold. 'Third spaces' like libraries have been severely underfunded in recent history, losing the attention of the wider public despite their massive utility in the lives of those without access to safe indoor spaces, internet, or books. Thankfully, a scheme has been launched over the Christmas period by Libraries Connected to combat the decline of the UK's libraries and fund them where necessary, which will hopefully see more care given to these institutions. 


This Christmas saw charities reach people in their homes, bringing together communities, and creatively advocating for those who need extra support. We're excited for the upcoming year and to share our ongoing research with charities big and small - but we couldn't resist one last look back at the terrific work done by small charities in the past weeks. We hope to see this momentum carry on into 2024!

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