Hastings and Napier households are due to receive a $220 dividend, with those who do not want the money being urged to donate it to charity - rather than let it go to waste.

Unison customers are set to receive an early Christmas present of $220 each, as Hawke's Bay Power Consumers' Trust dividend cheques start arriving in letterboxes from next week.

While many will see it as a welcome bonus to ease the burden of the festive season, last year about $300,000 of power dividend cheques were never banked at all.

"Imagine the impact this money could have if it was channelled back to help our local charitable sector," Hawke's Bay Foundation development manager Linda Calder said.

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"We're encouraging people who can afford it, to consider how this dividend could be used to help those in our community who are less fortunate."

The foundation has now set up an online donation facility on its website to make it easy for people to gift some or all of their HBPCT dividend to charity.

"If just 1000 people each gave their $220 dividend to the Hawke's Bay Foundation, that would result in $220,000 invested in our region, forever.

"In 10 years' time, the original investment will have grown to around $280,000, and more than $87,000 would have been returned to the community through grants."

Power consumers in Hastings and Napier will this year get an increased annual dividend - up from $200 last year - from the Hawke's Bay Power Consumers Trust, which owns electricity distributor Unison Networks.

Christina McBeth, manager of food redistribution charity Nourished for Nil, said she was "happily giving my HBPCT dividend to the Hawke's Bay Foundation".

"I absolutely love the Hawke's Bay Foundation model because it is future-proofing. It thinks beyond today and now."

For more information or to make a donation, visit hawkesbayfoundation.org.nz or phone 870 4648. All donations over $5 are eligible for a 33.3 per cent tax rebate.