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10 ways to make your charity donations go further

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
The UK is in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis with inflation soaring and many people are struggling financially and in need of help. Giving to charity is more important than ever. Here's how you can make the most of your donations.

With the country in a grip of a cost-of-living crisis, charities are reporting a fall in donations and highlighting the fact that food banks are now at breaking point, giving out more than they are receiving.

One in five people are now considering cutting back on charity donations, according to the Charities Aid Foundation, as they struggle with rising costs.

How to make your charity donation go further

If you are in a position to give money to charity, there are many ways to do this but the way you do it can make a big difference to the amount the charity receives.

One in four people who have given a charitable donation in the last year say they haven’t done any research before giving the money, according to the consumer group Which?.

But there are lots of simple things you can do to make this money go further, such as picking a charity that passes on more of the money and checking the Gift Aid box. Which? has put together the following 10 tips which can help those in need receive more of the money you’re donating.

  1. Check how much money from your purchase is donated: Many shoppers buy Christmas cards that donate a percentage of the profits raised to a given charity. However, charity Christmas cards are a potentially inefficient way of donating if the percentage being given to charity is low. Always check the pack to see how much will be given to charity and consider whether it might be better to buy a cheaper pack of cards and donate the difference yourself.
  2. Consider where your donation would be most impactful: If the cause you’ve chosen is already well funded, your money might have a greater impact elsewhere. If you want to donate to a charity but aren’t sure which is the best to donate to, you could check if there are organisations that might be in greater need of donations.
  3. Systemic change vs direct help: Spend some time thinking about whether you want your contribution to go towards systemic change or direct intervention. For example, donating to a cancer research charity may help develop cures and treatments to prevent more people being affected by cancer in the long term, while funding palliative care and support offers more immediate help.
  4. Consider what to give: Humanitarian aid is often provided through donations of physical goods such as food, clothing and shelter, but monetary donations can be more valuable because they allow charities to buy exactly what they need.
  5. Give time, not just money: Many charities rely on work from volunteers to keep running. If you would like to offer your time to a charity and you’re thinking of signing up, think about how many hours you can commit to working, and what skills you can offer to maximise the value for both the cause and yourself.
  6. Update for inflation: Long-standing, regular financial donations are a very effective way to give to charity. But if you’ve been signed up to give regular donations for a few years, it could be worth taking inflation into account and increasing your donation accordingly – if household budgets allow.
  7. Give tax effectively: Charities miss out on more than £940m every year because donors don’t claim tax relief. Gift Aid means an extra 25% goes to the charity when you make a donation. Your donations should qualify as long as they’re not more than four times what you have paid in tax in that tax year. Payroll Giving deducts your donation from your wages before tax. It must be paid through PAYE from someone’s wages or pension.
  8. Do sense checks: If a charity makes an unsolicited approach, use simple checks to ensure it’s legitimate. Street collectors should have ID, collection tins should be sealed and letterbox collection bags should have a charity number. You should also look out for the Fundraising Badge logo on a charity’s fundraising materials – a purple circle containing the letters ‘FR’. Charities exhibiting this logo have committed to fundraise in line with the Code of Fundraising Practice.
  9. Check the charity is genuine: Fraudsters can take advantage with fake websites, emails and bogus causes – particularly around the holiday season. If you have any doubts about a charity’s validity, you can look up the charity’s name and number on the Charity Commission register.
  10. Don’t feel under pressure: Giving to charity is an important decision and sometimes a significant financial commitment, so never feel under any pressure. Always take your time, ask questions and do your research.

If you’re looking for the best way to give to a food bank, published a list of tips and advice on what you should give and the best way to help.

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