Monday, 22 December 2008

Christmas charity

May the closeness of friends,
the comfort of home,
and the unity of our nation,
renew your spirits
this holiday season!!!

Christmas time is a good occasion to think about helping other people. It might include any aid you are able to provide: from food, clothing, toys for children, humanitarian aid to big and expensive presents for disabled people. You can give families joy of Christmas and make them happy.

Contribute a new toy for a child. Make child’s dream come true. Donate a wheel chair for a disabled person. Make their lives a little brighter. Deliver a charitable project for the local community. They need our help and attention.

Let us share warmth, love and provide people with the hope. This is our nearest mission for Christmas holiday. It is high time to change the world around us to good. We appeal to your heart and spirit!!!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Big new concessions to religion in UK charity guidance

The charitable status of religious bodies that encourage their members — who are “consenting adults” — to refuse medical treatment, even if it will result in their premature death, will not be regarded as “damaging or dangerous” and will not be challengeable under the new charity laws. Even if children or vulnerable adults are involved, the Charities Commission says, it would regard any challenge as “contentious” and their acceptance of it would depend on whether any “disbenefit of withholding care outweighed the general benefits of religious freedom”.

The new guidance also says that holding anti-homosexual views is also OK, so long as the charities are upfront about it, so that “members of the public can make informed choices about whether to attend or support those organisations.”

The advice also says: “Charities advancing religion can require their followers or adherents to comply with religiously-derived norms of behaviour promoted by that religion. However, where doing so involves breaking the law, or where there is evidence of detriment or harm, this will affect public benefit.”

The revelations come in new supplementary public benefit guidance for religious charities, which seeks to help such charities to meet the new public benefit test that was introduced as part of the Charities Act 2006. The presumption that charities provide public benefit was removed in the Act, and charities must now prove that they benefit society.

The final guidance was the result of an extensive consultation with the sector, which resulted in a huge push by religious charities lobbying for exemptions from the law which, of course, have been duly granted.

According to the Charity Commission’s finalised guidance on the Advancement of Religion for the Public Benefit, charities that are established to advance religion but that also work to advance other charitable purposes will not have to widen their objects, provided they can show their secular work is an “outworking” of religion.

The finalised guidance also makes a number of other concessions to religious charities. As is usual when religion is involved, the language used becomes all but incomprehensible. The Charities Commission says that the benefits of advancement of religion must be demonstrable but do not need to be “quantifiable or physically experienced”.

But it says any supposed “disbenefits”, which must be outweighed by the benefits in order for organisations to be accepted as a charity, must be “fully substantiated”. In looking at individual organisations, the guidance says the Commission will disregard claims that the religion’s beliefs are unpopular and will have regard to public opinion only “where there are objective and informed public concerns about, or evidence that, the beliefs or practices of an organisation advancing religion causes detriment or harm”.

It adds: “Unevidenced claims made with the intention of causing an organisation trouble because of a disagreement with the organisation's views or stance will not be taken into consideration.”

Terry Sanderson commented: “It seems religions have been given a very wide margin to discriminate and hatemonger and still retain their charitable status. There are several evangelical groups operating as de facto political lobbying organisations that are receiving all the benefits of charitable status. It seems under these new Regulations, they will be unchallengeable.”

Mr Sanderson said that the NSS had once questioned the charitable status of the Christian Institute — a lobbying organisation — when it issued a card for its members to carry in case they were involved in a fatal accident. The card read: “In the event of my death I do not want my children to be adopted by homosexuals.”

Mr Sanderson said: “The Christian Institute were given a slap on the wrist and asked to withdraw the card by the Charities Commission. Under the new rules, it is unlikely that such a challenge would be entertained in future.”


Christmas fundraising helps charities in difficult times

The voluntary sector is devising ways of fighting back against the financial crisis this Christmas, says Pauline Eiferman

The voluntary sectoris heavily affected by the recession, according to a survey this month. Charities are facing higher costs while their incomes are falling. Individual donors are slowly pulling out, and one in five charities reported that they are facing cancellations of direct debits.

Seasonal donations account for a big part of charities' incomes, boosting them in the last month of the year. Christmas is traditionally a busy time for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), says its director of fundraising, Giles Pegram. "We have a special Christmas appeal, and many of our donors feel that families are more vulnerable at this time of the year, so there is always an increase in fundraising."

The NSPCC has been going through a difficult time in general because of the financial crisis, says Pegram: "Right now, the people who have direct debits set up are not giving extra donations and are not upgrading their accounts."

However, many charities are staying positive. They see Christmas as an opportunity, hoping to draw on this time of the year to reinvigorate donations. "We are planning to use Christmas to spread our message and relaunch the fundraising," says Pegram. "So far, we have seen no fall in Christmas donations, but they are extremely important so we must give them specific attention."

Many charities have the same idea. The most famous example of a charity that uses Christmas to boost the incentive to give is Oxfam, with its Unwrapped series of products – gifts from goats to water jugs that are given to those suffering from poverty all over the world. The scheme generates an income of about £8m a year. The charity also runs an emergency appeal around Christmas, which aims to raise about £3m every year.

Every Christmas, the Salvation Army launches its Christmas Appeal to help the homeless, asking for a £19 donation to give a homeless person warm clothes and a Christmas meal.

The British Red Cross is also trying to use Christmas to defy the recession. One strategy is a fundraising initiative called "£1m fortnight", which aims to raise £1m in two weeks leading up to Christmas. The event, which ended earlier this month, raised £1.2m. So although the organisation was forced to cancel its winter gala ball this month, Rebecca Mauger, head of high-value giving and events, said: "considering the economic downturn, our Christmas mailings are doing pretty well."

The charity also launched an innovative initiative in digital fundraising this Christmas, called Pass the Parcel. On the website, donors can fill virtual parcels with pieces of equipment useful to the organisation's aid work all over the world. The parcel is passed on to other donors, who can decide to add more items or "seal" the package and send it to the destination of their choice.

But once Christmas is gone, there may still be benefits to charities following the festive season. A spokesperson for Oxfam also said that January was a very important time for the charity, as donations of unwanted gifts to their secondhand stores rise significantly.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Oxfam and M&S make a magic million for charity

Since it's launch in January, the Marks and Spencer (M&S) and Oxfam 'Clothes Exchange' has raised an extra million for the charity.

The money was generated by the sale of extra Marks & Spencer clothes donated to Oxfam shops through the Clothes Exchange, which encourages donations of unwanted M&S clothes to Oxfam by providing a £5 M&S voucher in return. The voucher is redeemable against a £35 spend on clothing, home or beauty products at M&S.

Promoting the 'clothes exchange' in Enniskillen in the final run-up to Christmas is Brian Quinn, manager of the Marks and Spencer store in Erneside and Loretta Cullen, manager of the Enniskillen Oxfam shop.

The extra revenue that is generated through the Clothes Exchange partnership is enough to;

* to pay for Oxfam's entire Rwanda programme for a year (it includes improving agricultural livelihoods, working to tackle the spread of HIV and working to improve governance in a way that helps national reconciliation), or;

  • To help provide safe clean water, healthcare and other lifesaving services for around 200,000 people displaced by conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo for six months, or;
  • To fund Oxfam's mobile schools for children of nomadic farmers in Kenya for four years.

The positive impact of the partnership – which initially ran for a six month trial – means that the Clothes Exchange will now continue indefinitely. People across the UK will be able to keep picking-up an M&S voucher each time they visit their local Oxfam shop with a donation of M&S clothing.

The Clothes Exchange has also supported one of Marks & Spencer's Plan A environmental objectives to encourage the recycling of clothes, and reduce the one million tonnes of clothing sent to landfill in the UK each year. Barney Tallack, Oxfam's Deputy Director of Trading said: "An extra million pounds is amazing. The partnership has been a fantastic success, and we would like to thank the people who have donated all the great clothes that helped us raise this money.

"Please keep bringing them in as the extra money raised will help Oxfam to make a real difference to the lives of many thousands of the world's poorest people."Richard Gillies, Director of Plan A, Marks & Spencer said the success of the Clothes Exchange showed that it was possible to be responsible and save money at the same time.

"Thousands of people have saved on their M&S shopping by donating M&S clothing they no longer need to Oxfam, which has helped the charity to raise more money to fight poverty. It's also helped to reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill by 1,000 tonnes over the last six months. We hope the campaign will continue to go from strength to strength in future."

From The Fermanagh Herald

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Princess Anne's festive charity

Britain's Princess Anne has visited a festive charity.

The Princess Royal called into the Weston-super-Mare warehouse facility of Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a Christian charity which sends gift-filled shoeboxes from the UK to less-fortunate countries.

Anne watched volunteers prepare a final lorry-load of boxes for dispatch to Belarus, one of 11 countries that will benefit from the programme this year.

The royal visit was to recognise the commitment to the charity by the Nightingale family who have donated units at their Home and Office Storage Company for use by the Christian charity Samaritan's Purse, which runs the annual OCC project for the last three years.

While visiting the warehouse, the princess met Simon Barrington, Executive Director of Samaritan's Purse UK (right), and Geraldine Burgess, Weston-Super-Mare OCC co-coordinator, who introduced her to the volunteers and explained the charity's local role.

The charity distribute over 1million of the boxes to children in need each year.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Lottery cash boost for family charity

A CHARITY that helps families with children who may be isolated or depressed celebrated its launch - courtesy of a £300,000 lottery donation - with a presentation.

Home Start Trafford held its AGM to celebrate the birth of the scheme into the south of Trafford at Longford Park Stadium, Stretford.

It was attended by supporters and representatives from Trafford Council, Trafford Children and Young Peoples Service, the Big Lottery Fund and health care professionals.

Chair of Home Start, Sarah Kelly, thanked the council and he Big Lottery Fund for their support and said: “Over the past year we received wonderful news from our funders. Trafford Council agreed to part fund us for another three years and the Big Lottery Fund gave us a very large grant to expand into the south of the borough over the next five years.

“This grant was one of the largest ever given to a Home Start scheme in this country. I am thrilled to be involved with such a vibrant and exciting organisation. ”

Guest speaker Lisa Shrimpton from Home Start North West praised the work of Home Start schemes and added: “Since April 1, the beginning of our financial year, 35 families have received support from the organisation.”

The highlight of the day, which took place on November 28, was a three-way question and answer session held by scheme manager Kathryn Eckersley and a mother of twins who has benefited from the charity.

By Messenger Newspapers

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