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Giving the gift of Christmas: Sponsor a run, swim, or have a Christmas jumper day

How corporate giving and staff fundraising can make all the difference to charities

Christmas is almost upon us and hopefully it’s looking more merry than last year. For many people, the Christmas period isn’t necessarily the celebration we all wish it could be. Add in the affects of the pandemic and this year some people need more help than ever.

Sue Lamon-Diver, board member at Barnardos, says: “We are all aware of the hardship created by Covid-19 over the past two years. It has brought hardship to many people, but none more so then the 18,000 children and families Barnardos works with across our 41 centres nationwide.

“They were already in vulnerable and precarious situations before the pandemic began and they are among those who have felt the impact of Covid-19 most acutely.”

Amy Carr, director of fundraising and marketing at Focus Ireland, agrees. “One of the main things is that Christmas is really a time of reflection. And it’s a time of reflection for those that are not in the same position, for those that are homeless and don’t have somewhere safe and secure and don’t have somewhere safe to spend Christmas.”


Time for giving

At this time of year, people wonder how they can help charities. Many businesses have a budget for Christmas giving, or encourage staff to fundraise, often matching money raised, and corporate giving and staff fundraising at Christmas can make all the difference to charities at this time, says Carr.

“It’s time to look at the charities you want to support and do it in a meaningful way.  We would encourage people to think about the charities they want to support, what resonates with them and where they can impact with their donation.”

Lamon-Diver says: “This is where corporate Ireland can help and we have already seen many examples of this over the past two years. Irish business, despite everyone’s personal struggles, has stepped up and has done what it can to support those in need.

“This has helped us provide the vital resources needed to support these children and families in crises and to be able to put plans in place to continue to support them in the months and years ahead.”

How to support charities 

There are many ways to support charities whether over the Christmas period or throughout the year. Carr says that despite – or maybe because of – the pandemic, their “regular giving” donations, where people commit to giving a regular amount every month, increased by 16 per cent over the last year.

The regular giving is important “because it means we have a core group of donors who support us. We can plan and look at the next year, knowing we have that guaranteed income coming in. It’s an important mechanism for us,” she says.

“During lockdown having that regular giving gave us financial stability and security. I don’t think we really understood the impact of that until you’re facing a crisis and unknown territory and we didn’t know the impact the pandemic is going to have on the public.

For staff and businesses looking to fundraise over the Christmas period, there are also many options, says Lamon-Diver. “This is going to be a difficult time to bring work colleagues together for any sort of Christmas celebration. Many people are still working from home or working between the office and home, so they are not getting a chance to see many of their colleagues.

“Companies still need to find a way to bring everyone together, to give them a shared sense of purpose and keep their culture alive. Coming up with a creative way to fundraise together, while staying apart, will help boost morale and provide everyone with a real sense of achievement.

“Whether it is an online shared activity such as a fundraising run, swim or a Christmas jumper day, it doesn’t have to be complicated and everyone can benefit,” she says.

Carr agrees. “Make it fun. Do a few activities. Corporations can sponsor a star on the tree on Grafton street, or have a Christmas jumper day.”

Morale boost

The benefits of charitable giving don’t just affect the homeless and the services these charities provide. There are many benefits both at a staff and corporate level. From boosting team morale to helping the community or even “shining a light on your brand”, Lamon-Diver says the benefits are many and varied.

Speaking about how fundraising can affect staff, Carr says: “They get a lot out of the corporate partnership in general and the activities that they might take part in to fundraise. They feel they’ve really done something meaningful for Focus Ireland customers.”

This morale boost goes above and beyond the Christmas period too. “There’s a lot of pride in being in a company that aligns with these values,” says Carr. “They feel they’re in a company that’s not just good at what they do but doing good too.”

Both Carr and Lamon-Diver speak about the importance of long-term corporate partnerships. “We are also interested in building long term successful relationships with corporate partners,” says Lamon-Diver. “For us this means, we can plan our work over the next number of months and years, as we have a planned and steady income.”

Corporate partnerships are very important, says Carr. “We’re lucky to have some fantastic corporate partners, and they get a lot out of the partnership.”

Edel Corrigan

Edel Corrigan is a contributor to The Irish Times