Charities Get the January Blues, Too

January is generally a hard month to get through.  Christmas has been and gone, leaving us poorer and more than a little emotionally flat as we return to work through the dull, wet weather.  Shorter days leave us with less time to enjoy the outdoors and spend more time in our homes, which can be lonely and depressing.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, charities in the UK also find January difficult.  Fewer people are willing or able to afford to give money through donations, or attend fundraising events.  Bills for heating and lighting are also higher because of the cold weather and longer nights.  Some of their regular volunteers who might work in charity shops or stand outside with collection tins are elderly and unable to travel to do their usual work in bad weather.

For charities UK tax relief and the Gift Aid scheme set up by the government means that they can maximise the amount of money generously given by members of the public but they constantly have to think of new ways to appeal for donations.   The RSPCA has created RSPCA Choices, a new way for people to donate or fundraise for them.  Instead of fundraising for the charity as a whole, people can choose projects undertaken by the RSPCA – perhaps in their local area, or relating to a species that is particularly dear to their hearts – and raise or give money to that particular project.

Every project has its own target amount to reach, and everyone who chooses to fundraise for a project can create their own webpage to promote their event.  So for example if a person wanted to support the RSPCA by fundraising to employ and train Inspectors to respond to concerns or allegations about animal abuse or neglect, they could select the project ‘Everyday Heroes’ and make a donation or choose to raise money for it.  It’s easy to select a project and to create your very own webpage that you can use to promote your event or activity and to ask people for their support.  Share your page on your favourite social networking site and you will reach a wider audience than if you were only to put up a poster in your local post office.

The RSPCA Choices site provides regular updates to its project supporters to tell them how close their chosen project is to reaching its goal, and how their money is being put to good use.

By allowing people to choose to support a specific project rather than one of several generic, large UK charities, RSPCA Choices is empowering people to give impassioned, informed reasons to potential supporters of their cause.  For instance, whether you decided to do a sponsored skydive or a cake sale you would want to be able to tell people why you wanted them to sponsor you.  You could explain that your local shelter is badly in need of more blankets, or that urgent veterinary care is required for local wildlife and you could explain exactly what a person’s sponsorship would mean to the animals in need of help.  Hopefully that way you will generate some much needed funds at this difficult time of year!

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