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Fly's avatar

Why is it that the holidays suddenly put people in a charitable mood?

Asked by Fly (8726points) December 26th, 2011

Around the holidays, charities always become a big focus. You see canned food drives, Salvation Army bell ringers, and toy drives everywhere. School clubs and organizations decide to adopt families/children, and a donations to charities have become a popular gift.

While I applaud all of the charitable involvement and I certainly don’t mean to undermine it, I really don’t understand why people only seem to become so engaged in charitable activities during the month of December. It’s not as if the people receiving the help, whether they be a person living in a local homeless shelter or an impoverished village in Africa, only need said help during the holiday season.

Why is it that people (including corporations) who wouldn’t make even the smallest effort to help the needy during the other eleven months of the year suddenly decide that they want to make the world a better place?

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13 Answers

Mtrencher's avatar

The holidays are generally seen as the time of giving.

DaphneT's avatar

We have been conditioned over the past century to view this as the only time of giving or as the last time of giving before the new year (tax deduction). If we chose to, we could socialize charity completely differently. Say, rather than give Dad a tie for Father’s day, make a donation in his name. Repeat for Mother’s day, any U.S. Federal holiday, use a great ad campaign and you could convince people to shift their giving into other times of the year.

smilingheart1's avatar

There is a collective energy that causes mortals to want to love others and foster hope. The God whom isn’t acknowledged or recognized most of the year has something to get in the midst of and increase when unity, harmony, goodwill are frontstage as they are during December.

fizzbanger's avatar

Neediness is more palpable (poor kids believe in Santa, too). The temperature drops and people need more gear to keep warm throughout the winter.

Some people can’t afford to make a significant financial donation more than once a year, so for them, it’s a special holiday thing.

JLeslie's avatar

I think some of it is guilt. When we are all spending loads of money on gadgets and fun, we feel worse for those who have very little, and are more willing to share our own prosperity. But, not just guilt, it can be simply a feeling of wanting others to be happy during a time when we feel merry and ourselves.

Also, this is the last few weeks of donating and getting tax deductions for the year. Espeically corporations might get tax advice on how much to spend, or be at the end of their fiscal year and know how much they can spend.

KoleraHeliko's avatar

Cognitive dissonance. When something is being shoved in your face all day, such as in the month of December, it’s quite difficult to ignore things, so one tends to be guilted into doing things. However during the other 11 months of the year, people barely mention the horrors of the world at all, leaving us in a nice place to comfortably pretend that nothing is wrong.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If you’re a calendar year taxpayer, December 31 is the last day you can make a donation and deduct it on this years taxes.

marinelife's avatar

As a thank you for all of the gifts received by the givers. Also, you are making an assumption that these people and organizations don’t give year round. They might and some do.

Fly's avatar

@marinelife Of course there are plenty of people who are active in charity and volunteer work throughout the year as well as during the holidays; I don’t mean to imply that there aren’t. I am mostly referring to people and corporation which do not make that effort year-round in this question. But as a follow-up to your statement, why do people who do engage in charitable activities throughout the year feel the need to do more charity work than they might usually do during the holidays?

marinelife's avatar

Because of tax write-offs, because it is the season of giving, because they are feeling mellow.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Holidays such as Easter, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are times where the contrast between those who have families/friends to be with, share with and those who are alone or in dire straits is easily seen or noticed. It’s a good time for charities to maximize contributions.

whitetigress's avatar

For me I could feel everyone around me being generous and taking a step back in their lives and taking the moment to give to others. As a collective, that culture becomes observable and therefore mimic-able. :) But I like to hand out change to homeless whenever the opportunity presents itself anyhow.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Fly, your question made me curious about giving trends. I can’t seem to find any documentation on monthly charitiable donations. Can you please provide me with the information you are basing your question on regarding holidays and charitable giving? Thanks. : )

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