How to make the most of your charity donations

How to make the most of your charity donations

There's no shortage of charities you can support with over 180,000 registered charities in England and Wales, and 24,000 in Scotland. Choosing who to give to often stems from a personal experience, but we typically donate £16.58 month. But how do you know that your donation is going where you want it to, or even if the request for your support is coming from a genuine source?

Charity collections

If a charity bag or envelope comes through your door, and you're unsure if it's from a real charity, you can check the charity's name on the Charity Commission website. Genuine fundraising materials should feature a landline contact number rather than just a mobile number. If you think the charity named on the bag could be fake, report your concerns to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

Donation websites

If you want to get sponsored to run a marathon or abseil down a local landmark (as our production editor Sam did this summer!) you can collect donations online via websites such as JustGiving or VirginMoneyGiving. Be aware that these sites are profit making and each one takes a different cut of the money you raise. The best for charities is MyDonate which gives £12.35 per £10 donation with Gift Aid, says MoneySavingExpert. If you're a UK taxpayer, always tick the Gift Aid box. Charities can reclaim your tax from HMRC on one-off or regular donations, meaning your donation is increased by 25 per cent or more.

Charity legacy

An amazing 43 per cent of Brits plan to leave money to charity in their Will. Leaving money is inheritance-tax efficient in two ways – gifts to registered charities are inheritance-tax free and if ten per cent of a taxable estate is left to registered charities, the rate of inheritance tax is reduced by ten per cent to 36 per cent. This doesn't increase the amount other beneficiaries receive, less tax is paid and your chosen charities receive even more.

Give your time

Charities welcome your time as well as your money, so volunteer your services or become a trustee or board member, to help ensure it's well run. Trustees' Week runs from November 7-11, 2016 – to get involved, visit Trusteesweek.

Charity practices under review 

When we last covered charities, readers wrote to say they'd been bombarded by requests to increase donations. The good news is charities are taking steps to address this and a new Fundraising Regulator has been launched to investigate such practices and help charities manage contact better from 2017. Until then, you can register with the Telephone Preference Service and the Mail Preference Service to make your contact preferences clear.

5 easy ways to give

  1. Target your donations – it's better for you and the causes that you support if you donate to five charities a year rather than 15. Your money will go further and make more of a difference.
  2. Most 'donation' credit cards actually give little to charity. Instead make a one-off donation directly to the charity and get a better credit card deal elsewhere.
  3. The RSPB was the first charity to produce fundraising Christmas cards in 1898. You can buy birdlife Christmas cards from their website and in RSPB shops.
  4. Donate your car, jewellery or a painting to Oxfam in your Will.
  5. M&S donates 1p to charity every time you shop at M&S and scan your Sparks card. You choose between nine charities and since October 2015 £1.1 million has been donated.