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UK Charity Plea - Keep Buying Charity Cards

An estimated £50 million is generated for hundreds of good causes every year

In the UK, the sale of greeting cards is the number one charity fundraiser at Christmas. More funds are raised by the sale of charity cards than by any other individual product.

However, in the run up to Christmas, confusing and often misleading information appears in the media about the varying amounts of money charities receive from the sale of charity Christmas cards, and charities fear that this may discourage the public from continuing to buy them.

Sheila Morgan, Trading Manager at the British Heart Foundation explains why it is so important that the public keeps buying Charity Christmas cards:

“It’s vital that the public understands how important charity cards are to charities at Christmas. They are a major source of revenue for charities and a great way for us to raise our profile in shops across the country. Cumulatively the amounts and the benefits are enormous; we estimate Christmas cards are worth £50m for charities each year in the UK. We want to reassure the public that however they choose to buy a charity card; whether it’s from a charity catalogue or shop, from a high street retailer or from a temporary card shop such as Cards for Good Causes, it’s still the best way to send Christmas greetings, keep in touch with family and friends and a great way to raise money for all of the charities involved. So please continue to support us in this way!”

Christmas Card Schemes Explained:

There are three main routes that charities can take to raise funds from the sales of charity Christmas cards. Many charities use one or a combination of the following routes:

Route 1:  Selling Direct to the Public

Where the charity publishes and sells the cards, the gains are potentially high but like any retail operation there are risks, as it involves upfront investment costs to run their own trading operations. The charities either purchase or publish the cards and sell the range through their own shops, manned by volunteers; through mail order and on-line, as well as through their volunteer groups. Of the hundreds of thousands of charities in the UK, only a very small percentage of the charities have the resources and customer support to run their own shops and/or mail order catalogues.

  • Pros: All profits go to the charity via their trading company (charities are not allowed to be involved in commerce themselves).
  • Cons: Up front costs and the risk that there may still be stock left over, which the charity has paid for. This route is not open to smaller charities.

Route 2:  Buying to Sell On

In this scenario the charity buys its cards and has them branded from one of the specialist charity Christmas card publishers and then sells them on via the multi-charity (temporary) card shops that are set up over the Christmas period and run by Cards for Good Causes, Card Aid and other smaller organisations.

  • Pros: Charities can gain valuable shelf space in a few or all of the 300 Cards for Good Causes outlets which for many of the 350 participating charities is their only access to the public.
  • Cons: Up front costs and the risk that there may still be stock left over, which the charity has paid for.

Route 3: The High Street Route

In this case the charity has a contract with either a card publisher or high street retailer whereby their logo is printed on greeting cards in return for an agreed contribution.  The publisher takes on the investment costs and the risks and the cards are sold through its distribution channels into the high street. For many charities this is their only outlet for selling Christmas cards.

  • Pros: There is no investment or risk and virtually no costs to the charity. The returns are high because of the huge quantity of cards involved. The charities gain shelf space in shops such as department stores, as well as high street shops and supermarkets. This raises the charities’ profile on the high street, earning additional income without having to make any investment in product or distribution.
  • Cons: NONE, charities love this way of raising money as it is virtually free.

Hear Sharon Little on Radio 4's Today Programme speaking up for Charity Christmas Cards - play audio
She discussed the three ways that charities can raise funds though charity cards, detailing how the publicity criticising high street charity cards is misleading. She pointed out that charities love the high street deals as they are risk free and raise millions of of pounds for the charities.

For further information/images contact:

  • Sharon Little, Greeting Card Association, T: 020 7619 0396
  • E: gca@max-publishing.co.uk
  • This press release was issued by the Greeting Card Association (GCA).