A goat’s not just for christmas

There’s been a bit of a furore over Charity gifts recently. In particular two organisations Animal Aid and the World Land Trust have both been campaigning on the message that gifts of animals provide unsustainable assistance as in the long term they cause more problems than they solve. Their messages have been partially discredited, Animal Aid are not, as their name implies, an aid charity, but animal rights campaigners ideologically opposed to the use of animals in… well anything. The World Land trust have their own charity gift scheme, in competition with .

I have yet to find out any independent analysis of the goat giving phenomenon, that isn’t either repeating the received wisdom of the two organisations above, anecdotal reportage in a lower quality Sunday newspaper, or on the lines of “well they would say that, wouldn’t they, they have a vested interest”. However I would still not be that pleased with a charity goat as it would show the giver didn’t even bother to look at the catalogue and find something less ubiquitous!

From the publicity you would think goats were the be all and end all of charity gifts. Oxfam unwrapped list loads of different types of gift, most of which lead to projects that don’t involve animals in any way shape or form. However isn’t the charity gift just clever marketing, a way of packaging up what is really just a simple charity donation? Oxfam Unwrapped are quite clear, open and honest about the fact that your money doesn’t actually directly buy the thing that represents the gift. For example if you buy someone some exercise books, your money may not actually buy exercise books, but something from a list of things relating to education. So if I was a vegan, giving my charity catalog gift, how sure could I be that my gift of a school desk wouldn’t fund the purchase of livestock? I’ve no problem with my gift of an Aids education session turning into condom kits, but if it turns into something totally unrelated I may as well have just avoided the expensive marketing and just put the money in the collecting tin.

Certain charities do ring fence your money, and what you pay for is actually bought. However, I’m not sure I’d really want to be so fussy as not to trust my chosen charity with any flexibility over what they did with my gift. I also have an image in my mind, probably erroneous, of the charity telling the recipient of the nice person from England who paid for the gift, and I’m not sure I’m so comfortable with that!

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