When it comes to my great passion, dementia, the UK's major charities - Alzheimer's Society, Alzheimer's Research UK and Dementia UK - are all becoming household names. Interestingly though, when my story of my dad's life with dementia was unknown, it was a charity hardly anyone in the dementia world talks about who showed most interest in me.
We are suffering from a lack of leadership, something the Victorians had in spades. By failing to give significantly, the new rich are failing to set an example and inspire those who will follow them. Government makes noises about encouraging more philanthropy but most politicians follow focus groups rather offer leadership...
From then, each month now has a designated charity aim, with January's 'dryathalon' all the way to 'Stoptober'. Alongside these, people will be engaging in so-called fun runs and comedy nights across the country. What's wrong with that? It's all for a good cause, they say as they proffer their jangling buckets.
For charities working in war zones or countries hit by acts of terrorism, the world can be a dangerous and difficult place. Charities dealing with the humanitarian effects of conflict or political upheaval face the task of making sure help goes to the people who need it most, while not inadvertently supporting armed groups or those involved in terrorism...
She had not been given a day off in three years and her employers had taken her passport away. She was shouted at, beaten and the children spat at her, hit her and pulled her hair. I asked why she had not left or run away. She said because her boss had told her that without a passport she would be put in prison by the British police for many years and would never see her children.
Damned if they do, damned if they don't. For the last seven years I have worked with celebrities, their agents, publicists (and in some cases their mums) to coordinate their support of charitable projects. And while no-one invites condemnation like a wealthy celebrity who does nothing for charity, those who do contribute open themselves up to a whole other raft of criticism. The big difference is once you're famous, you'll be judged. Every move a celebrity makes is up for scrutiny, including the issues that concern them; their politics; their faith; and the charities they choose to support.
During this season charity fund raisers actively appeal for the disadvantaged. They almost universally don't ask for presents - much preferring you donate cash - because this is pragmatically the most useful contribution you could make. If it's obviously more helpful than other gifts in the domain of charity, so economists remain perplexed as to the irrational paradox of continuing to buy each other 'suboptimal' presents?
Maybe it's the global economy. Maybe it's a newly discovered sense of pragmatism. Whatever it is, this is without a doubt the first Christmas in recent memory that doesn't have me excited about shopping. And I know I'm not the only one! My friends and family seem to have been struck by the same anti-shopping - and even anti-gift getting spirit. So, while I've received the cookie-cutter answer "nothing" every time I pose the question "what do you want for Christmas?", I still do have my own ideas about the gifts I'd most like to give. I've decided this year to give meaningful gifts - in other words, gifts that keep on giving.