A Letter to Santa

presentsDear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is peace on earth and goodwill to come from all people to all people. I know it is a tall order but recently I have seen real progress with groups of people coming together everywhere to help others.

To give just one example, Philip Scholfield recently completed a 24-hour live stint on UK TV for your Text Santa appeal – @ITVTextSanta – which will culminate on 19 December in a three-hour TV gala. Money raised will be split between six charities: Teenage Cancer Trust, Guide Dogs, WellChild, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Alzheimer’s Society and Together for Short Lives.

This may sound small considering all the problems we face in the world, but last Tuesday was Giving Tuesday – #givingtuesday – which was created in the US by a coalition of people who felt they could make a difference, and they were right. According to research by Donor Perfect, the income of charities that took part grew by twice that of those who didn’t join in. So, let’s see many more of those initiatives in many more countries.

Currently, the US is the most generous country per head in the world, according to the World Giving Index published by CAF America. A staggering 68% of US households give to charity and 44% volunteer. It’s not about the amount of money, it’s about the number who think yes I can do something. Here in the UK, giving is held to be a private matter, rather like an embarrassing habit not mentioned in polite society, but in the US it is lauded and those who give gain respect. It’s not impossible to change traditions, I think there is hope that we can establish a worldwide culture of giving and a worldwide culture of respecting those that give.

I am also heartened by the take-off of those selfie campaigns and I’m sure you rejoice like me in the fact that people around the world are coming together to help others – shame on those who mock such things. The famous ice-bucket challenge happened whilst I was in Malaysia, and even there everyone knew about it, debated it on TV, and promptly emptied their ice buckets over their heads. Such global movements are I think to be celebrated, encouraged and emulated. It’s going to take the whole world together if we are to solve global problems, and goodwill is a fine place to start on the road to peace.

As international communications speed up and we are fed problems, disasters and horrors non-stop, isn’t it just great that we are responding right round the world in increasing numbers? Nothing is accomplished by bystanders we need activists, but activists do not arise in large numbers spontaneously. There is that spark that ignites them, and a context whether it is a selfie, Giving Tuesday or your own TextSanta appeal. So let’s also celebrate those that create that context – the fundraisers.

And, I know I’m not alone in asking this, can you also help to rally the world as you fly from house to house?




John Baguley, CEO, IFC


Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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