The gift of charity: Harry and Meghan’s royal effect

May 16, 2018
2 min read

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have asked people to donate to charities instead of sending wedding presents. The couple have chosen seven different charities, representing a range of different issues: Children’s HIV Association, Crisis, The Myna Mahila Foundation, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, StreetGames, Surfers Against Sewage and The Wilderness Foundation UK.

The so-called “royal effect” has been well documented, describing how the wider population often takes direct inspiration from the monarchy. The effect is perhaps most widely associated with fashion, with items of clothing often selling out quickly after they have received royal endorsement. But there is even evidence to suggest that the trend applies to baby names, with George and Charlotte increasing in popularity following the birth of the royal children in 2013 and 2015.

In line with this, people could be encouraged to take inspiration from Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s decision to ask for charitable donations in lieu of traditional gifts.

Cash proves most popular wedding gift

Mintel UK research on attitudes towards weddings shows that cash and gift vouchers are the most common gift given by wedding guests. By contrast, charitable donations appear to hold no appeal for guests, with Mintel data suggesting that no guests made a charitable donation as a gift at the last wedding they attended. Indeed, as well as marrying couples possibly asking for other types of gift, guests themselves may also prefer to give a present that the couple can personally benefit from.

The gift of charity

Despite their limited uptake, a number of charities do offer wedding gift donation services, including the Alzheimer’s Society and Cancer Research, although these are focused exclusively on the monetary benefit to the cause.

By contrast, Oxfam’s Unwrapped initiative is an example of how charities can make charitable donations more tangible for gift-givers. It allows users to choose from a variety of provisions needed by developing communities in Africa, ranging from £50 for a pair of goats to £500 for safe water for 500 people.

Marketing campaigns can help to boost interest in charitable gift lists, as well as fostering a greater association between weddings and charitable giving. Campaigns can also focus on how giving to charity can help share the joy people experience on their wedding day with those in need.

Jack Duckett
Jack Duckett

Jack Duckett is an Associate Director for Consumer Lifestyles Research. He specialises in reports exploring the attitudes and behaviours of different demographic groups.

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