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Charity booming despite the crunch

Brits are shunning traditional Christmas presents in favour of gifts that support charity. As sales of ethical gifts rise this Christmas a new craze  is being born - ‘Yuleanthropy’.

A trip to the dentist, a latrine and a night in a malnutrition ward. Sound like the world’s worst Christmas presents?

Not according to figures released today by Present Aid, the ethical gift shop for charity Christian Aid. As the high street slashes prices in the run up to the Christmas period, it seems Brits are snapping up virtual gifts that benefit some of the world’s poorest people – making us a nation of ‘Yuleanthropists’.

Present Aid sales are defying the high street slump as the charity announces that its latest order figures topple those from the same period last year by almost five times (472 per cent)*.  Based on current sales figures, Present Aid is in line to exceed last year’s fundraising total of £2.1 million substantially. One in six of consumers (15 per cent) already buy ethical gifts at Christmas, and this figure is increasing this Yuletide.

This growing trend, called ‘Yuleanthropy’ by Present Aid, means to give ethical gifts at Christmas and comes from the words ‘Yuletide’ and ‘Philanthropy’. The trend has been inspired by celebrity charitable giving throughout 2008, with high profile celebs like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Bill Gates making it fashionable to have a social conscience.

Daniel Charles, head of Present Aid, said: “You might think that with the economy as it is we’d be seeing a decline in the number of people buying ethical gifts like these over the festive period.

“However, from baby buffalo to cans of worms, watering cans to mosquito nets, it seems Brits are shunning socks and soap on a rope in favour of virtual gifts to help people in the developing world.

“Christian Aid needs these funds more urgently than ever before.  As the economic crisis deepens it is the poor who are hit first and hardest and we will see millions more people across the developing world plunged into extreme poverty.  With Present Aid you are able to make a significant and genuine difference to people’s lives – more than can be said for many of the novelty gifts that end up gathering dust once Christmas is over.”

Eastenders actress, Kara Tointon, who plays the character Dawn Swann on the soap, is a supporter of Present Aid. She travelled to Zambia where she saw first hand the difference that giving an ethical gift can make.

Kara said: “When I went to Zambia one of the things that really struck me was the amount of children who didn’t have shoes, it’s so dangerous walking bare feet. That’s why I’m going to be buying the school shoes gift this Christmas, it’s a great gift for friends and family and I know that it’s going to make a real difference to people who need it.”

British model Daisy Lowe recently travelled to Brazil with Christian Aid and is encouraging shoppers to buy a painting kit for women as an ideal ethical gift for people to give for Christmas. Daisy said: “When I went to Brazil I saw how important it was to give women who are struggling to survive a skill which they can then use to earn money with.  The painting kit available through Present Aid is amazing as it gives women the chance to support their families by painting traditional advertising signs.”

The proceeds from Christian Aid’s ‘Present Aid’ gifts go to support work with some of the world’s poorest communities in over 50 countries. Present Aid gift prices start at just £8. Log on to www.presentaid.org or call 0845 3300 500 for a catalogue.

The deadline for Christmas Present Aid purchases is 15 December to ensure guaranteed delivery of the cards before Christmas.

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For case studies of Yuleanthropists, further information and images please contact:

Christian Aid
Karen Hedges/Kate Wills
020 7523 2418

Notes to the Editor

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th - 28th July 2008.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

*Sales figures compare the number of Present Aid orders from October 2007 to those in October 2008