The horrific scenes in Nepal and further afield following last weekend's huge earthquake have been hard to avoid. I'm sure most people will have had the conversation that goes something like "oh, isn't it horrible, if only there was something we could do to help". And then forgotten about it. But there is something you can do.
Fortunately, fundraising societies in most of the UK Universities have recently come up with a plethora of genuinely creative and entertaining ways to raise money for charities. Doing something that you enjoy, and at the same time supporting someone in need, is a win-win situation, it acts as a great motive for you to be part of this.
Nothing will give you more of that warm and fuzzy feeling than giving a bit of your time and lending your awesome skills to a cancer charity looking for someone just like you. You see, many charities have little money available to pay for superb individuals like you who are essential for their latest project.
This year, the holiday season is particular important. For much of the world, 2014 was trying a year. Words like "racism", "starvation", "radicalisation", "Ebola", "terrorism", "poverty", "rape", "unemployment" dominated global headlines. We witnessed a lot of pain, and many confronted unfathomable devastation. There was and is so much sadness.
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...