It is the season of giving – and not just to our nearest and dearest. This year, help make a difference to these wonderful charities.

The past couple of years have tested us in a myriad of ways. The charitable sector has, however, been particularly hard hit, with 60 per cent of philanthropic organisations reporting a loss of income and 32 per cent dealing with volunteer shortages. And yet they have soldiered valiantly on, with – relatively-speaking – very few collapsing under the strain; instead most have had to adapt their operations in the way they deliver services; by cutting staff; and in focusing on core projects. We remain awed by their staying power and by their drive to do good in the world, and at no time should we remember them more than at Christmas. There are hundreds that we could single out; here we suggest just ten who could do with any extra you may have.

Know of a charity that should make this list? Tell us at


As we hunker down and prepare to feast on Christmas lunch, it is feels especially pertinent to spare a thought – and some money – for those facing Christmas without a roof over their heads or enough to eat. Centrepoint’s More Than A Gift initiative encourages you to give £10 that will cover a Christmas meal for someone who may otherwise go without; £50, meanwhile, will secure a hamper to help them feed themselves over the festive period. There are lots of other gift options too, from Christmas jumpers to help a homeless person feel warm and festive to counselling sessions. Donate here.


Back in the first lockdown, the National Domestic Abuse Helpline reported a 65 per cent increase in calls, our confinement in our homes having acutely exacerbated the dangers for those at risk of physical violence and coercive control. When women and children flee from their abusers, their escape often poses a significant danger to them and is frequently made with just the clothes on their backs. A Christmas gift will help a family as they rebuild their lives – whether you choose to give a specific toy or present bundle, or simply give a donation. Donate here.

Medicins Sans Frontieres

In August 2021, Afghanistan was taken over by the Taliban. In the wake of the takeover, key international donors suspended aid, and now everyday life remains chronically unstable. Particularly hard hit are essential services and not least medical care, as hospitals and clinics all over the country have been forced to close. MSF is running five different operations in the country, across Lashkar Gah and Kandahar, both in the south, Herat in the west, Kunduz in the north, and Khost in the east. Their work includes helping the war wounded and caring for malnourished children. Your much-needed donation to MSF will help to deliver medical care at this devastating and critical time. Donate here.

Afghan Charity Organisation

If you wish to support the plight of the poor in Afghanistan by supporting a non-profit local organisation on the ground, Afghan Charity Organisation – which has a PayPal link on Instagram – is an excellent way to do so. Every single penny goes direct to helping those in dire need of food, clothing and shelter. Donate here.

The Book Trust

Illustrations copyright: Kate Hindley (2021)
The magic of Christmas is bound up inextricably with stories. The Book Trust does a fantastic job in supporting vulnerable children to discover the transformative power of reading, and this year it aims to give out more book parcels than ever before, to some 16,000 children. Half of these will be sent to children in care, while the other half will be distributed through community foodbanks. £10 covers one book parcel for one child. Donate here.

Age UK

For 1.5 million older people across the UK, many of whom might recently have lost their partners, Christmas can be a very lonely time. Many go for days if not weeks without speaking to another soul, which is why Age UK’s telephone friendship service is a lifeline. A gift of £15 can ensure that there is always someone there for older people in their loneliest hours. As they say, no one should have no one. Donate here.


Christmas is always a busy time for the RSPCA, as incidences of abandoned and abused pets skyrocket. This year, with 3.2 million homes having bought lockdown pets, that surge is only expected to be greater. They say, ‘This year, like every year, many of our animal rescuers will be spending Christmas on the road, responding to every urgent call they can. Everyone at our animal centres will also be working hard to give every rescued animal the emergency treatment and loving care they need. For them, the best Christmas gift is knowing that another abandoned pet will be brought to safety. And other frightened wild animals will be given the urgent help they need.’ Donate here.

Christian Aid

All the money raised for Christian Aid’s Christmas Appeal will help people living in poverty across the world. This year, its focus is on those whose daily lives force them to make terrible, often impossible, decisions, frequently as a result of being on the front line of the climate crisis. They say, ‘Dirty water, or none at all? A morsel of food each, or a bigger portion for one? School fees, or materials to rebuild the family home? Through your gifts you could help families in South Sudan and around the world stand strong with more boreholes, farming support and the chance to set up a small business.’ Donate here.


A cancer diagnosis, whether it is your own or that of someone close to you, can be devastating. Macmillan does astonishing work to support those who are ill and their loved ones, in ways both practical and emotional. Your gift could help fund its vital helpline, assist children dealing with grief or pay for the support centres that so many rely upon. Donate here.

Great Ormond Street

Having a seriously ill child is distressing at any time. Not being able to come home for Christmas can feel heart-breaking. Donations to the astonishing Great Ormond Street Hospital will be put towards both its medical research and pioneering technology and creating child-focused environments to help young patients feel safe and calm as they prepare or recover from treatment. Money raised will also go to GOSH’s child and family support services, which make the wards feel festive and also pay for parent accommodation so that families can be together over Christmas. Donate here.

By Nancy Alsop
December 2021

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.