In 1843 Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published. This book is arguably Dickens’ best known novel and it really has stood the test of time, being reproduced in popular media and film countless times including the unforgettable A Muppet Christmas Carol.
If you don’t know the story, A Christmas Carol details the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from a Christmashating, stingy misery guts to a giving, gentle man who helps the family of his employee, Bob Cratchit, who can’t afford to eat by sending food on Christmas day.
The idea of charity has been linked to Christmas time for hundreds of years, a tradition that endures to this day. Charitable donations are at their highest in December, but this doesn’t mean that you need to break the bank to help.
In this feature we will be looking at different ways you can help animal charities to continue to do their important work of campaigning, safeguarding and advocating for exploited animals all around the world.
So, what is a charity? It is a word we use frequently, but what does it actually mean? According to the Charities Act, ‘a charity is an institution which is established for charitable purposes only and is subject to the control of the High Court’s charity law jurisdiction.’ What does all this mean?
Well, to be considered a charity, the organisation must be working for public benefit — it must fall under 13 set purposes, one of which is the advancement of animal welfare — and the High Court must have the power to make decisions about the charity.
In 2015, there were over 1.5 million registered charities, and the number is ever growing. Interestingly, according to Charities Aid Foundation, Africa is the only continent to have increased its giving behaviours over the last three consecutive years and Myanmar is placed at the top of the rankings for countries which give the most to charity.
The UK is 11th in the world standings and, on average, households give just under 0.5% of their total spending to charity. Animal charities don’t often make the top ten lists in the UK and therefore, we want to highlight the ways in which you can help. In fact, it may be that you want to help a start-up charity or a lesser known organisation who are working tirelessly for improved animal welfare.
In a world where information is so accessible and internet fraud is rife, how do we know if a charity really is helping animals or not? We all want our hard-earned cash to go to causes close to our hearts and consequentially, you can search the charity register here.
The next decision is picking a charity to support. There are so many worthy causes and, unfortunately, so many different animals which need our help to escape lives of exploitation, torture or enslavement. Choosing a charity to support is a very personal choice and we suggest that you do research into causes you are particularly passionate about.
As vegans we love all animals and it can be hard to choose one so it may be that you decide to support a charity which does work for lots of different animals like the WWF, PETA or Animal Aid. If you have an affinity with a particular animal, however, you may decide to focus your support on charities working to liberate them.
For example, Grey2K are working tirelessly to close greyhound tracks around the world. Earlier this year, four tracks closed thanks to the work of this charity. One of the tracks which closed was the Canidrome, China’s only legal dog track. Grey2K don’t simply walk away once a track is closed though, they work to safely transport and rehome these animals. You can find out more about the work of Grey2K at grey2kusa.org
Whether you have a skill to offer, your time, knowledge or a monetary donation, every little helps. Charity isn’t just about money. Charity is about giving what you can and caring about injustices.
As a vegan you are giving countless animals their lives by choosing to avoid eating, wearing or buying animal products.