Charity says ethical gift sales unaffected by credit crunch

A trip to the dentist, a latrine and a night in a malnutrition ward may sound like the world’s worst Christmas presents but 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, Brits are also snapping up virtual gifts that benefit some of the world’s poorest people.

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 - an increase of 372 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 that figure is increasing this Yuletide.

This growing trend, coined ‘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.

“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.

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