5-minute guide to charity donations

We're a nation of givers with more than three quarters of us giving to good causes every month, according to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) but you can maximise what your favourite charity gets from your donation with our expert advice.

How much of my £10 donation goes to the charity?

If you give directly to the charity it should get the £10 – plus a further £2.50 if you use gift aid. “But how much of that goes to the actual charity’s cause, rather than salaries or admin costs, does vary,” says Sarah Hitchings at CAF. “Check the charity’s website or ask them directly where your money goes.”

What about charity fundraising websites?

“Some websites take a percentage of donations, while others take a fee, so check each site’s terms as the amount we get from these tends to change,” says Melissa Shelley at Macmillan Cancer Support. MoneySavingExpert research says Givey.com is the most generous, giving the full £12.50 from a £10 donation with gift aid, whereas Justgiving.com passes on £11.74.

There are over 181,000 charities in England and Wales alone to choose from

Stuck for a charity to support?

Search all UK-registered charities and filter by cause and location using CAF's search facility. There are over 181,000 charities in England and Wales alone to choose from.

How can I give safely?

  • Check collection bags are from genuine charities by looking them up on the Register of Charities
  • Check collectors are wearing ID and the collection tin is sealed. Genuine fundraisers will be happy to explain the charity’s work
  • Look for the FRSB tick logo, which means the charity’s fundraising is regulated.

What else can I do?

  • Sign up to Gift Aid... the charity can then reclaim the basic-rate tax you’ve paid on that donation, so a £1 donation is worth £1.25.
  • Give while you earn... payroll-giving allows you to make tax-free donations directly from your salary. Giving £1 costs a basic-rate taxpayer just 80p.
  • Leave a legacy... as well as benefiting the charity, this also reduces the amount of inheritance tax that will need to be paid on your estate.
  • Give while you spend... with a charity credit card. they have a typical gift value of 0.25% of spend, so for every £100 spent, 25p goes to charity. the highest rate is 0.8% from Virgin Charity Credit Card, so you may be better off using a higher-rate cashback credit card and donating the cashback to charity.
  • Use charity shops... the British Heart Foundation offers free collection for unwanted furniture and electrical items (not Northern Ireland). Call them on 0808 250 0030.
  • Shop online... sites including easyfundraising.co.uk and giveasyoulive.com raise money for good causes every time you shop online via their sites.
  • Donate for free... using websites such as TheHungerSite.com or FreeRice.com which helps the starving. Click a link or play a simple game and the site donates for you.

Tip: If you don’t want marketing calls from your chosen charity, don’t forget to tick the relevant disclaimer box

There's more great money advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.