For a long time, Valentine’s Day in the UK on February 14th was a bit overlooked compared to the extravagances of our US counterparts, who always seem to ’go big or go home’ on any holiday.
But like many trends that originated across the pond, its popularity is growing among Brits. The spending figures for Valentine’s Day in the UK are no small change - data and analytics company GlobalData predicted Valentine’s Day spending in the UK would top £1bn this year – up to 0.7% higher than in 2018.
The days of people just sending some classic roses and chocolates to their partner are over. These days, Instagram and social media mean people want to show off their love in all kinds of fun ways, and the giving is not just limited to partners but can include friends, children and even a counterpart day just for celebrating ’gal pals’.
Trends like Valentine’s Day trees might seem a bit cheesy, but with the long, dreary months after Christmas marked by dieting, Brexit anxiety, flu pandemics and endless storms, who can blame people for wanting to bring a little bit more cheer in their lives?
However, while people are embracing Valentine’s Day, a 2017 YouGov poll found that 87% of Brits think it’s becoming too commercial. Could there be an opportunity for charities to tap into Valentine’s Day and help people embrace a more sincere form of giving, in the spirit of love and compassion for others?
For charities, Valentine’s Day represents an untapped day of giving that could help give a boost to otherwise lacklustre Christmas fundraising totals. So before your charity completely overlooks this day as an opportunity to raise funds or just spread the love, here are some ideas.
There’s nothing new about the idea of charity greetings cards, which are a particular staple of charity shops at Christmas time. But why not encourage people to exchange virtual cards for Valentine’s Day?
It makes perfect sense when you think about it - they’re easier on people’s wallets after the excesses of Christmas, and sending them in the name of a charity is in keeping with the spirit of love and generosity that Valentine’s Day represents.
Sites like Don’tSendMeACard.com allow people to send charity e-cards for the cost of sending a physical card, with the cost going to charities, and over 500 charities signed up with their choice of imagery. Homeless charity Shelter almost doubled their donations over Christmas thanks to the platform.
Charities based around environmental concerns are especially suited to the virtual card strategy as a major benefit is saving paper, and cute animal imagery lends itself to Valentine’s Day. Wildlife charities like Somerset Wildlife Trust, Friends of the Earth, Sumatran Orangutan Society, Forever Hounds Trust, and Ape Action Africa all have virtual Valentine’s Day cards for sale.
It might seem a bit impersonal, but for corporations or organisations wanting to send out higher volumes of cards, the lure of quick and easy e-cards is not hard to understand, as they’re quick to send and download. Charities can give them to option to add their own company logo alongside the charity’s.
It’s also straightforward for charities to sign up and get started. Many platforms come with free content to let charities promote their cards on social media, and come with a choice of card imagery, or charities can create their own using free graphics software like Canva Card Maker where it’s simply a case of dragging and dropping the elements.
The virtual charity gifts trend is on the up, with charities like Oxfam and Christian Aid widening their range every Christmas as they seek creative ways for people to donate.
Since Valentine’s Day is the first holiday after Christmas, giving someone the gift of planting a tree, helping a family or adopting an animal in their name feels like the perfect antidote to all the consumerism and excess.
There are also a growing number of online retailers aimed specifically at supporting charities with a percentage of the proceeds. Platforms like Ethical Superstore allow consumers to sidestep traditional mass-produced products to choose gifts that are unique, one of a kind and directly support good causes – and they have a page marketed just as Valentine’s Day gifts.
Other charities have set up timely e-commerce on their own websites – Unicef and Save the Children have their own Valentine’s gift boxes for sale on their sites, set up to coincide with specific campaigns.
Lastly, could your charity offer donors a chance to a dedicate a place, monument or virtual dedication wall or garden to their loved one as a gift that will endure for many years?
The British Heart Foundation encourages supporters to honour someone they love by engraving their name on a sculptural steel heart that stands in Yorkshire. The heart contains over 15,000 names of people who want to show their dedication to the cause of fighting heart disease, remember loved ones or mark a milestone.
The National Trust offers the chance for people to dedicate a special place under their care to a loved one, to mark a wedding day, anniversary, a special memory or just as a romantic gesture. The dedications are stored on a virtual map that anyone can view.