A new campaign is urging businesses to donate their unused Christmas party budgets to charity, to help overcome a significant drop in funding for good causes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report by the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (IoF) and Charity Finance Group (CFG) found that charities are expecting an average 24% reduction in funding this year – equating to a £12.4 billion loss of income for good causes as a whole.
Most charities have seen their entire events season wiped out for 2020, while Britain’s largest organised fundraising events were cancelled such as Cancer Research’s Race for Life, and the Memory Walk hosted by the Alzheimer’s Society.
‘Xmas Party Heroes’ is the brainchild of Mark Hawthorn, the CEO of investor Landmark Group, based in Bolton.
It is expected that Christmas parties will effectively not be able to happen this year, with England currently in a second national lockdown until at least December 2.
With Covid-19 causing most businesses to hold socially distanced celebrations or virtual parties on video platforms, Xmas Party Heroes encourages companies to donate any unused funds to a charity of their choice.
Xmas Party Heroes has so far raised approaching £1,000,000 now in less than a week.
Companies that have already pledged money to charities through Xmas Party Heroes include Timpson, Property Alliance Group, Urban Splash, FK Group and Barratt Developments – and the number is growing.
James Timpson OBE, CEO of Timpson, said: “This is a great idea for companies to help others when they can’t celebrate Xmas with their colleagues. I’m amazed it’s not been thought of before.”
Mark Hawthorn said: “We all know that Christmas is going to be different this year. Due to public health restrictions traditional Christmas parties simply aren’t possible so businesses large and small are choosing to swap them for smaller, socially-distant or virtual celebrations instead.
“We also know that fundraising for charities has been decimated by Covid with many charities unable to run the events which generates the income to sustain them – we hope that Xmas Party Heroes raises awareness of this issue and can help raise some much-needed funds.
“Just over a week ago I started considering our Christmas plans. It was rather obvious that there is little scope for the usual traditional entertaining and events which led to the simple conclusion that we should give all the allocated funds to charity.
“I then discovered that over £1bn is spent in the UK each year on Xmas entertaining by businesses. The vast majority of this will now go unallocated in 2020, so we started the Xmas Party Heroes campaign to get businesses to divert funds to charities, which are more in need than ever.
“I only had the idea a week ago and after making a few calls to sound it out, I’ve been inundated with people wanting to get onboard. The reaction so far shows there is the potential to raise tens of millions of pounds for charity.
“There will be lots of unspent Christmas party budgets this year and this campaign offers a really simple and effective solution that many businesses may not have considered.
“With the help of my team, we’ve launched a Xmas Party Heroes website to support the campaign and keep the momentum going. All we ask is that businesses let us know how much they have donated so we can keep a running total and help make a massive difference to those who need it the most.”
Xmas Party Heroes is being inundated with interest from businesses including FTSE 100 members and SMEs as well as charities keen to adopt the idea to spread word of the movement. In fact, we are currently engaging with so many charities who are now using this campaign to amplify their own fundraising efforts that we can hardly keep up with the requests for information about it.
Landmark Group has donated the funds for its Christmas Party and more to OnSide Youth Zones, a charity building a national network of youth clubs for youngsters aged eight to 19.
Kathryn Morley, CEO of OnSide Youth Zones, said: “We’re delighted to receive this £15,000 gift from the Landmark Group as part of the tremendous Xmas Party Heroes campaign. This gift will help us deliver support through Youth Zones to thousands of young people in disadvantaged areas across the country.”
Property Alliance Group has donated funds to Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.
Jon Haward, Executive Director at Ronald McDonald House Charities UK, said: “The #XmasPartyHeroes initiative is a fantastic way for businesses to show their support for charities at this time, in lieu of the money they would have spent on their Christmas party.
“We are so grateful for the ongoing support from Property Alliance Group over the past few years. It’s incredible they are getting involved in our Christmas Bedside Appeal by being a Xmas Party Hero; Their support will help keep families close to their child in hospital this Christmas.”
Victoria Russell, Director at Property Alliance Group added: “Charities need support more than ever in 2020 and Xmas Party Heroes is a great way to raise a significant amount of money and awareness.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has hit disadvantaged communities the hardest, with increasing numbers of children and young people that would not have previously been identified as vulnerable, now moving into thresholds of higher need.
“Unemployment is increasing, loneliness, food poverty, issues relating to emotional health and wellbeing are all on the rise, which create additional demand and pressure on public services. “It’s great to see so many businesses getting behind this idea and helping to raise much needed funds.”
Charities of all sizes that fundraise for many different causes have voiced their support for the Xmas Party Heroes initiative.
Laura Woodcock, Head of Community Relationships, Central, at Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “In these difficult times young people with cancer face uncertainty and isolation like never before. It’s refreshing to see campaigns like Xmas Party Heroes which aims to unite organisations in coming together to support charities at a time when they most need it. The current pandemic has had a huge impact on our ability to raise funds. Every pound pledged for Teenage Cancer Trust via Xmas Party Heroes is vital in supporting our specialist services for young people aged 13-24 with cancer.”
Rachel Laycock, Senior Corporate Fundraising Manager at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’ve lost a number of fundraising events this year but we’re hopeful the generous support of businesses across the UK could help us turn things around. We fundraise for vital treatment, research and care projects for the children’s hospital and that funding benefits the 280,000 young patients our hospital sees each year.
“Anyone who wishes to support us through Xmas Party Heroes can be assured their donation will make a significant difference to our young patients – not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.”
Tess O’Callaghan, Senior Corporate Partnerships Manager at the NSPCC, said: “We’re really excited to be part of the #XmasPartyHeroes campaign. This year has been really tough for children and young people across the country, with the coronavirus restrictions turning their lives upside down. The NSPCC has remained here on the front line to help vulnerable children and their families, but we need your support to ensure that we can continue to provide that lifeline over the Christmas period.”
Paul Jackson-Clark, Director of Engagement at Parkinson’s UK, said: “It is fantastic to see an initiative like Xmas Party Heroes encouraging companies to support charities like Parkinson’s UK by donating the funds that would otherwise have been spent on Christmas parties. The coronavirus pandemic means that the festive season may be a little different this year – but there are still plenty of opportunities like this to support good causes.”
For further information, visit www.xmaspartyheroes.co.uk or follow @XmasPartyHeroes #xmaspartyheroes on Twitter