Thrive CEO’s Christmas Tree Appeal Helped Northern Ireland’s Homeless

Real Social Impact by Individuals, in Real Time

What happens to old Christmas trees when the decorations get put away for another year? Well, one has gone on to become a local landmark and has raised money for the Simon Community, a leading homelessness charity…

And it just so happens to live in the front garden of our CEO Neil Macdonald!

Social impact is not just for big businesses. Individuals and families can also make a big difference. It’s often easy to see the tangible benefits your efforts can have. When we can quantify the impact of our endeavours it can spur us on to do more as explained below.

Recycling an old tree for new life

Having been planted outside some 30 years ago by former residents once its indoor days were over, the Macdonald’s tree is now nearly 50 feet tall and continues to grow.

During winter lockdown, they decided to deck it out with lights. And that’s when it all started…

“We didn’t think much of it at the time, but as the weeks went on we noticed queues of cars lining up to look at the tree and it quickly became a popular local attraction.”

Neil told Belfast Live when they came to cover the story.

“Last year we thought we would capitalise on this and held a fundraiser for the homeless charity, The Simon Community. We were thrilled to be able to raise £1,000 which went towards taking a group of vulnerable people out for a Christmas dinner.”

That’s over 100 people who would otherwise have had no special dinner on Christmas day. While many of the rest of us were sharing a day with family, for these 100 people it would have been a day like every other. By supporting them, the impact can be immediate. You can influence their wellbeing.

Simon Community Logo

Simon Community NI is Northern Ireland’s largest homeless charity, supporting 636 people every day.

That’s not just a matter of putting roofs over people’s heads. Their work also includes:

  • Supporting people battling to overcome family traumas, financial difficulties, unemployment, bereavement, addictions, and poor mental health.
  • Providing a 24-hour helpline that received 18,000 calls last year
  • Helping to save the lives of people in overdose situations – 67 in 2021, to be exact

Homelessness in Northern Ireland has risen by 30% in the last five years, and as the economic situation gets worse, the demands on groups like The Simon Community will continue to rise.

Simon Community Christmas Tree

Increasing the Impact

This year, the Macdonalds went even further, holding a Christmas lights switch-on event to spread the word about their appeal, the goal being to beat last year’s total. This was easily achieved with the increased exposure; the total now standing at £1200 but still rising.

If you would like to help support Simon Community NI yourself, take a look at these figures:

  • £500 can provide emergency food or clothing to 50 people impacted by the cost-of-living crisis
  • £500 can pay for 35 of the Welcome Packs, containing essential everyday food and toiletries which we give to people who may have very little, when they come to stay with at one of Simon Community’s accommodation sites
  • £1000 can provide all the essentials needed for 4 Home Packs to help people move on to a home of their own
  • For every £1 Simon Community receives, 94.8p goes directly to front-line services and support, 4.2p goes towards generating funds and 1p is spent on governance.

And while it may be time for the lights to come down, you can rest assured that the Macdonalds’ Christmas tree isn’t going anywhere.

You may even see it from the sky while flying over Northern Ireland!

What social impact do your individual activities have?

Can you get feedback from the charities you support to learn more about what your donations achieve? Knowledge of where our donations go generally increases the likelihood for us to do more – so get digging for information and be proud of the impact you can make as an individual!

And if you want to learn more about how to quantify the impact your organisation has, talk to Thrive today.