Baubles to Charity Christmas Cards

Charity Christmas Cards

As the post Christmas clear up started I  reviewed  a selection of Christmas cards. The sample may be slightly slanted towards our circle of contacts but there are some common themes.

  • 57% 0f all cards had glitter and or foil that rendered them useless for recycling (44% of them were charity cards so they demonstrate slightly more concern for the environment)
  • Only 20% of all cards had a Christian theme and of those the largest group represented carols rather than religious scenes.
  • It appears that 74% of the sample were ‘charity cards’ or so it implies on the reverse of the card. ( That may be open to interpretation see below)
  • Only one e-card (1%) was received and there was little thought demonstrating concern for the environment and recycling.
  • For various reasons it seems as though charities sub-optimise the contribution these cards could make but perhaps rely on buyer inertia.

The Mercenary Bit

  • 70% of the charity cards were for single  individual causes. To me these are ‘true charity cards’. Some would be published on behalf of the charity others self published. It was not practical to understand how these had been sold for example direct through supporters and members or via various retailers. The return to the charity could vary considerably.
  • 30% of cards claimed to be in aid of more than one charity and were generally promoted by single major retailers including supermarkets and chains. These I call  ‘feel good cards’.
    • Two types of charitable fund raising were apparent – the lump sum approach was favoured by Tesco, Morrisons and M&S among others. A fixed donation sum was highlighted on the back of the card of between £50,000 and £350,000.
      That did not seem to relate to the volume or value of the card purchased. Perhaps it related more to the retailers  ‘corporate social responsibility agenda’.
    • The other method, a percentage of sale price was used by  Waitrose and Debenhams  contributing 10-20% or 10p per pack. That is more in line with what a purchasor would expect. The Debenham Foundation reg 1147682 raises over £1.75m over the year on various charitable activities.

Observations & Issues


As with many things the devil is in the detail. Even if it seems Scrooge like the card issue is worth giving some deeper thought.

  • It is my view that some of the charities had settled for an easy contribution to avoid the effort of organising a sensible fund raising operation of their own. Some retailers take a marketing advantage by offering low return for the charity cards sold.
  • Other parts of the supply chain including wholesalers, printers packers etc benefit from the card trade sales but it is unclear if or how they contribute to charity.
  • The cards commissioned for individual charities and those who arrange their own direct sales are likely to make the largest charitable contributions. Admittedly this carries some risk and administrative burdens.
  • No cards appeared to use the ‘promotional opportunity’ to solicit donations, highlight current isues or recruit new supporters with adverts and links.


One card came via a defunct publisher with a strong link to 1124224 – THE PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL CHARITY

In previous years funds of circa £30k per annum  were raised primarily for a range of charities through Christmas card sales made by the publisher ‘phoenix trading’ which went into administration in 2017. This bust outfit morphed into a phoenix itself called Flamingo Paperie for 2018 Christmas card sales. Call me cynical but the claim of ‘in excess of £1,887,000 worldwide fundraising’ beggars belief.



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