Making Christmas a time for giving rather than just buying presents was the theme of Iona’s festive Young Money show on Share Radio this morning.
She welcomed to the studio guests from Triodos Bank and Care International – whose scheme to lend small amounts to people setting up micro-businesses in the developing world we heard being promoted by Joanna Lumley.
The festive season is also a time for reflection, Iona said.
“You have the ability to take yourself out of day to day life, look at the world around you, and ask yourself how can I make a difference – and that chimes with young people who maybe feel they don’t have a huge opportunity to do good but are quite idealistic in nature.”
You don’t have to be rich to donate to charity. A study found that between 2010 and 2012 there was a big upsurge in the average donations by 16 to 24 year olds, from £6.40 to £13.20, driven by the new opportunities on social media.
Facebook and Just Giving in particular make it easy for young people to support their friends’ charitable activities.
Websites and apps also encourage the instinct. Iona cited Pennies.org, which rounds up card purchases, Giving a Bit And Give as You Live, which pass on retailer commissions to charities, and Help from Home which offers participation in socially useful projects without leaving the house – or even the bed!
There are also ethical banking options, such as the Charity Bank Isa, from the bank that passes on profits to a wide range of charities, paying 1.5% but only till January 15 when the rate drops to 1% – still competitive with standard banking Isas.
Triodos, the Dutch ethical bank, also has savings accounts including an Isa, and head of personal banking Huw Davies joined the show to talk about them.
“Young people have a desire to be part of positive change in many ways and this extends to the use of money,” Huw said. “People realise money is central to so many things and can be used for good –there is more and more awareness of this and a desire to question and look for alternatives in how we use it.”
He said Triodos lends its savers’ cash to “organisations in key sectors which we think are important – farming, clean energy, social projects, fair trade and also certain areas of cultural life”. He said the societal projects, engaging with disadvantaged parts of communities, appeared to strike the loudest chord with the bank’s younger customers.
Next into the studio was Jo Broughton, press officer at Care International, to talk about lendwithcare.org, who began by revealing she had been on hand at Joanna Lumley’s recording of the charity’s promotional trailer.
The scheme has so far loaned more than £5m to over 14,000 people in poor countries since it was set up only four years ago. It works with microfinance agencies to grant loans averaging £300 to people who by setting up their own micro-businesses can escape poverty and send their children to school. It is a crowdlending model, so you can go onto the lendwithcare website and pick your own deserving cause, lending from as little as £15. And you can get it back, because the loans all get repaid within six to 12 months. Then you can decide whether to re-lend to another deserving story.
The Christmas connection is that you can go online and buy a lendwithcare voucher as a gift.
“In terms of an ethical gift, not only are you helping poor people but it is done in an ethical way,” Jo said.
She revealed that out of the 14,500 loans, only five have defaulted, usually because of a death, in which cases the loan is written off. The microfinance agency partners used by the charity have to offer microsavings and support services, not just loans, and must ensure that the business plans they support are ethical and good for their communities. The scheme is now into its tenth country across Africa and Asia.
Jo said donating is fine, but for cash-strapped young people the lending model may have a particular appeal, as it does not mean signing up for a direct debit.
Iona asked Jo about the organisation’s survey on ‘regifting’ – passing on your unwanted presents, and suggested that sometimes we are “giving presents just for the sake of it”. A third of women admitted to doing so in the survey, though it is still something of a taboo. Sometimes it amounted to “the same box of chocolates being passed around from one family to another”, Jo said. “We say that’s a waste. Everybody knows it’s the thought that counts, and a thoughtful gift can benefit people in the third world – but it’s also a nice thing for people to do on Christmas Day.”
If you are short of a family present, downloading a voucher on Christmas morning – and inviting the recipient to choose their own deserving project – is a neat solution. “Our research shows that the most highly-valued presents are those which get the family together,” Jo said.
Iona closed the show with a few timely warnings on office parties, quoting surveys which found 40% of people admitted to “misdemeanours” at a festive workplace event – and one in ten had even been fired for it.
She and co-host Georgie Frost – ahead of ShareRadio’s own Christmas bash tonight – mused over the fact that younger workers are keen to impress, less experienced, perhaps even less alcohol-tolerant, and more vulnerable to embarrassing mishaps. Iona suggested that young employees should join in the fun, but not adopt an over-trusting approach to the office party which might come back to bite them.
DON’T MISS THE NEXT LIVE YOUNG MONEY SHOW ON JANUARY 2 at 9.15 on SHARE RADIO!