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Charity Xmas Cards

Across the Summer months each year it happens, with more and more charities each year it seems now sending out Xmas catalogues. Many of the smaller charities usually just offer Xmas cards, others go a bit further with limited added items of Xmas paper or trinkets and a few select gifts (some branded for the specific charity) and some go the full monty of a catalogue of many and varied items (Oxfam with its global products being one of the longest runners in this area). Certain major charities have long had a trading arm, Oxfam with its chain of national shops being obviously one of the largest and in my area of London I can count another four charities having shops in near proximity, but the reality is most charities are simply just not in that league.

What has led me to question this approach as being the best use of effort and resources (and expense) for many charities is the increasing number of catalogues simply having the same range of or very comparable Xmas cards – very few attempt their own unique Xmas cards each year! With such a lack of choice the ability of charities to get real benefits in terms of major and recurring sales seems based more on pot luck. In addition one gets the impression that the real beneficiaries are the commercial publishers of such cards who are simply “branding” them with different charities names, and the charity then collecting a commission based on annual sales. I have no idea of likely revenues (many charity accounts do not provide such levels of detail) but always suspected that the income is marginal and not major based on what is on offer.

Is there a better and more efficient way in selecting and helping charities under this form of giving? I did not think so until last year when I accidentally came across “Card Aid”,
(http://www.cardaid.co.uk/catalog/) itself a charity trading organisation owned by the Charity Advisory Trust. They state all net profits each year go to charitable purposes, with details of individual donations made listed on their website. However, more important to this posting’s theme is that you can choose from a wide selection of cards (including images I had not seen before) and then designate the charity (again a very considerable range being available) whose name will appear on your cards. In addition, this means that nominated charity will directly receive the relevant profits on those cards, stated at being around 60% of the sale price. To enable comparison go to the Cardaid Annual Survey of Xmas charity cards on their website with its own Scrooge Award (Harrods being the last winner!) where it is clear most commercially produced and sold cards rarely get above 10% (many being way below) and so answered my earlier question as to whether the charities were the real losers!

And if this were not good enough news , the site this year in being “greener” and more eco friendly offers a very funny and wide range of e-Xmas cards!

Would it not be more interesting (and also more remunerative one hopes) if more of the smaller charities considered simply advising their donors of this service with relevant details rather than producing and mailing their current individual brochures, especially if the profit contributions are so far apart?

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