Maugie Lyons: A time for giving

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Made a New Year’s resolution? Maugie Lyons, director of Royal Horticultural Halls, asks: how long will your good intentions last?

The festivities may be long played out, but there’s an expression that, like the leftover turkey, I’m finding hard to get rid of. “Christmas is a time for giving” is a sentiment echoed in carols, greeting cards and the season’s merriment – but why only at Christmas? I know I speak (well, write) in general when I say that, but like New Year’s resolutions, shouldn’t “giving” be a year-round pursuit.

I’m not suggesting that people should be making donations every day of the year, but should we be more discerning about where our money goes? For instance, if you’re organising an event, there are many ways you can ensure that you are giving back. In these recessional times we need to really think about the plight of charities. Supporting venues that invest their profits directly into charities is a great way to support good causes. It not only shows stakeholders that you are spending money responsibly and being aware of your corporate social obligations, but it also means that you are contributing to worthy causes. Many corporate events are facing cancellation, but showing senior management that these events are helping charities could serve in your favour.

Charities tend to be the first to suffer in a recession, and yet for many of them crises are times when they need funds more than ever. If you’re organising the annual corporate dinner, allow for a silent contribution or set up an appeal so guests can feel like they’re contributing a good cause. If your event involves corporate gifts or goodies – why not look at what charities have to offer? Nine times out of 10 it will be more useful than the multitudes of pens and mouse mats that go straight into the stationary cupboards to live out their lives!

With commercial undertakings, donating a small percentage of turnover is another way to support a cause that helps society as a whole. This way the act of kindness, generally associated with Christmas, doesn’t have to take place only on December 25.

Charles Dickens once said: “I have always thought of Christmas time, a kind, forgiving, charitable time.” I’m going to use this as my daily mantra and see if I can maybe bring some of that Christmas joy into my life every day!