Sea­son’s bleat­ings!

Christ­mas presents that ben­e­fit good causes

The Dominion Post - - Your Money - Su­san Ed­munds su­san.ed­[email protected]

If you’re won­der­ing what to give your dif­fi­cult-to-buy-for brother this Christ­mas, what about a bucket of fish? The Dunedin Wildlife Hos­pi­tal is the lat­est char­ity to of­fer do­na­tions as gift ideas – sup­port­ers can give, on be­half of some­one else, items rang­ing from the fish for $10, a pen­guin ban­dage for $20, right through to shark-bite surgery for a pen­guin for $500.

It’s a com­mon theme through­out the char­i­ta­ble sec­tor at this time of year. Ox­fam, Tear­fund and World Vi­sion are among those also pro­mot­ing char­i­ta­ble gifts – a goat, im­mu­ni­sa­tions, a chicken or money for girls’ ed­u­ca­tion are some of the op­tions.

Dunedin Wildlife Hos­pi­tal chair Steve Walker said there seemed to be more de­mand for en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, eth­i­cal gifts and it was more ef­fec­tive than seek­ing cash do­na­tions.

‘‘We have so many great sto­ries to tell at the hos­pi­tal so this was a great way of tak­ing those sto­ries and pack­ag­ing them into the gifts we’ve got. A bucket of fish is cer­tainly a unique gift to re­ceive this Christ­mas.

‘‘So many gifts have no mean­ing and come with so much waste and pack­ag­ing and more of­ten than not are thrown away or never used again. It’s an op­por­tu­nity with these gifts to buy some­thing that makes a real im­pact.’’

He said ef­forts would be made to use the money for the purpose the gift-giver in­tended.

‘‘What we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to try to do is make sure we can tag it as much as we can. What we might do early in the new year with the money that comes in is ac­tu­ally post sto­ries, show­ing us feed­ing fish to the pen­guins with a thank you message.

‘‘We’ll en­deav­our where we can to tie it as ac­cu­rately as pos­si­ble to the six things high­lighted there. What we can say is all the money we re­ceive goes into the hos­pi­tal op­er­a­tion.’’

Jes­sica Wil­son, head of re­search at Con­sumer NZ, said it was an is­sue for all the char­i­ties sell­ing char­i­ta­ble gifts.

Some­times the money might be used for the purpose the gift-giver in­tended, but other times it would be used for other work.

‘‘As Chris­tian World Ser­vice pointed it out, some­times that flex­i­bil­ity mat­ters: ‘Get­ting a goat that you don’t know how to look af­ter or which you can­not feed could cre­ate more prob­lems – or end up as goat curry’.’’

San­dra Smith, a se­nior lec­turer in the Univer­sity of Auck­land grad­u­ate school of man­age­ment, said char­i­ta­ble gifts were a way to make the work of a char­ity more tan­gi­ble.

‘‘This is a very busy mar­ket in its own right. In or­der to at­tract peo­ple’s dol­lars into the char­ity mar­ket, you have to over­come peo­ple’s gen­eral mis­trust of ‘where does my char­ity dol­lar go’. Hav­ing some­thing like a chicken or a goat

helps peo­ple to imag­ine more clearly how they’re go­ing to help a per­son or com­mu­nity.’’

Her col­league, Mike Lee, of the Busi­ness School mar­ket­ing depart­ment, said it was a way to com­bat ‘‘donor re­morse’’.

‘‘Peo­ple re­gret giv­ing some of their money away to a char­ity that doesn’t do what they had hoped they would do with their do­na­tion. This ex­plains why it is im­por­tant for donors to know ex­actly how their money is be­ing spent, hence the pop­u­lar­ity of highly tan­gi­ble – al­beit not as ef­fec­tive – char­ity presents, such as goats.

‘‘Even though the money may be bet­ter spent if pooled into es­tab­lish­ing some in­fra­struc­ture or bulk fund­ing of large scale im­prove­ments, a ‘goat’ is very spe­cific and con­crete, so the donor knows ex­actly what their money is sup­posed to be used for.’’

Wil­son said peo­ple could achieve the same im­pact for a char­ity by giv­ing a cash do­na­tion.

‘‘So many gifts have no mean­ing and come with so much waste and pack­ag­ing and more of­ten than not are thrown away or never used again.’’ Dunedin Wildlife Hos­pi­tal chair Steve Walker

IAIN MCGRE­GOR/STUFF

A fan of yellow-eyed pen­guins might ap­pre­ci­ate the chance to throw a bucket of fish their way.

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