How can you help charities hit by £1bn slump in donations?

| October 29, 2012 | 0 Comments

Toby Walne

16:20 EST, 27 October 2012


11:49 EST, 29 October 2012

Thousands of clean-shaven men will sprout moustaches from Thursday in the latest manifestation of one of Britain’s most popular charity drives. The ‘Movember’ campaign – raising cash to fight prostate cancer – is just one of several innovative and successful ideas from charities struggling to raise cash in a recession.

Last year’s Movember raised £80 million from almost a million bristled supporters.

But such triumphs stand out from the trend. The total given to charities in Britain last year was £11 billion, down from £12 billion three years ago. The days when fundraisers could rattle a tin and wait for cash to pour in are long gone.

Today’s charities, and their supporters,
use increasingly inventive means of raising awareness. They also have to
make use of every possible tax break and financial innovation – as
Financial Mail reports here.

Payback: Sarah and Steve Rebus will leave their entire estate to good causes

Payback: Sarah and Steve Rebus will leave their entire estate to good causes

‘We are repaying a huge debt of gratitude by leaving everything’

Only seven per cent of people include a
charity in their will, though this form of giving accounts for
£2 billion of  yearly donations.
and Steve Rebus paid a solicitor £150 five years ago to draw up a joint
will so they could leave their entire estate to good causes.

death, money will be shared out equally between the Royal National
Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Diabetes UK, the MS Society and their

Sarah, 43, a
diabetic who like Steve, 36, is also registered blind, says: ‘We have no
dependants or family in need, but owe a huge debt of gratitude to good
causes that have helped us in our lives.

a teenager, doctors told me I might not live beyond the age of 21.
Thank goodness for all the support that helped to prove how wrong they

Sarah, from
Epsom, Surrey, is a marketing officer for the RNIB and believes without
its support – and that of Diabetes UK – she would not be enjoying a full
and active life.

a musician, lost his mother to multiple sclerosis ten years ago. As
churchgoers, the couple also want to continue supporting local youth
groups linked to the church.

Cope of the Institute of Fundraising says: ‘You do not have to be a
rich philanthropist. A small donation on top of money left to family and
friends can make a huge difference.’

who leave at least ten per cent of their estate to charity in their
will can take advantage of a reduced rate of inheritance tax, at 36 per
cent for estates worth more than £325,000.

Without giving to charity, the amount above the £325,000 threshold is taxed at 40 per cent.
Any charitable donations have full relief from IHT.

After cancer, James Morley raised £3,000 on a sponsored bike ride

Spirit: After cancer, James Morley raised £3,000 on a sponsored bike ride


Web developer James Morley 44, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and operated on within weeks.

in remission, he uses charity payment system ‘Pennies’ at his local DIY
shop to donate small change to good causes at the till. The ‘electronic
charity box’ gives customers the choice to round up bills to the
nearest pound for charity.


A website, Easy Fundraising, empowers shopper to earn money for their favourite charities just by shopping.

When you decide where to shop, be it Amazon, John Lewis or Argos, you first go to the company’s website – – and pick the charity you want to support.

A donation is made automatically for every purchase.

Adoption First has become the latest charity to join ahead of National Adoption Week.

The idea is a twist on the cashback websites, where shoppers earn money for themselves each time they buy something.

This is because online stories pay marketing fees – through so-called affiliate links – to websites that push consumers to their cyber tills.

Pennies Foundation charity, set up two years ago, developed the system
that enables shoppers to hand over spare cash from the bill when they
pay by card. They simply press ‘Yes’ on the chip-and-PIN payment
machine, and the extra money is sent electronically to the charity.

James, from Ealing, west London, says: ‘I was at a Screwfix store buying tools and at the checkout got the option to donate my change to charity Everyman, which raises money for prostate cancer research. It was such an easy and convenient way to help out.’

He raised more than £3,000 last year for cancer charity Macmillan with a sponsored bicycle ride. Of this, £600 was from Gift Aid tax refunds (see below). He provided blog updates to attract sponsorship and is now developing a website to encourage more online sponsorships at For details of The Pennies Foundation, visit

More businesses and shoppers are using online payment system PayPal to donate. It can offer a ‘donate’ button as an option at the electronic checkout counter. Charities pay a transaction fee of 1.4 per cent of the amount received – plus a further 20p administrative fee – that is paid to PayPal for offering the charity facility.


The easiest way to boost giving is by ticking a Gift Aid box when making a donation.

The scheme allows charities to reclaim basic-rate tax on the cash. It means for every £10 donated, the charity receives a total £12.50.

It is not just charities that can benefit. Higher-rate taxpayers can also claim tax relief on the tax level above the basic rate level for their donations. This can be done on self-assessment tax returns with the option for any tax refund being sent direct to charity as a Gift Aid payment. It means 40 per cent taxpayers handing over an initial £10 can boost their gift with an even bigger rebate.

To make a Gift Aid donation it is necessary to make a Gift Aid declaration. A charity will typically ask a donor to complete a simple form, with name, address and charity details.

Caring: RSPCA fan Louisa Ingleton walks Lucy for its elderly owner

Caring: RSPCA fan Louisa Ingleton walks Lucy for its elderly owner


Anyone can provide vital support by helping with a fundraising event or volunteering their free time.

Ingleton, 14, from the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, helps the RSPCA by
holding coffee mornings. She has raised more than £200 with two
fundraisers at the local village hall in recent years.

Her mother Julie, 52, says: ‘She loves animals and cannot stand the thought of any cruelty to them. By getting family and friends involved – baking cakes and getting us to volunteer to run tombola stalls and serve tea – Louisa has shown how much she cares.’

Louisa wants to work with animals when she grows up and takes an elderly neighbour’s dog for walks. 


Donating from a salary enables people to help good causes from their gross salary before they have been taxed.  Payroll Giving is also offered under schemes such as Give As You Earn when donations can also be matched by employers wishing to help good causes. As an employee, it might be worth asking about setting up a scheme if one is not already offered.

People who receive a company or personal pension through a Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme can also give to charity via Payroll Giving.

Charities benefit particularly from payroll giving as the system lets them receive a regular income,  and it helps them plan ahead with budgets. 


Mobile phone users can also give to good causes by using charity applications or ‘apps’. allows users of smartphones such as iPhone, Android and Blackberry to donate to more than 80 charities signed up to the deal. The outfit takes three per cent of donations as an administration charge and charities pay £100 a year to use the platform.

Phone giant Vodafone offers a text service called JustTextGiving, which allows users to donate to a chosen charity or helps fundraisers collect money. Once signed up to the deal users are given a unique code that gives them access to charities.

The texts are sent free and users can also use GiftAid to reclaim tax for a chosen charity. Twitter account users can send a tweet using the ‘giv2’ hash tag with the charity user name and amount to be donated, for a minimum of £2.

A personalised link is then sent by JustGiving to the Tweeter so they can complete the charity donation. For details go to


Opening one of these enables users to put money aside into a separate account for good causes, and use it for donations when they wish. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has a charity account that offers a donation-holding facility. All donations automatically benefit from the 20 per cent basic rate tax amount under Gift Aid.

Donations can be made to any charity – by direct debit, electronically over the internet or by using a charity account cheque book. Statements and balances are provided like any bank account.

There is no overdraft facility so if there are insufficient account funds CAF will ask for a top-up.

Account holders do not earn interest on any money in the account but must pay a total of three per cent a year in administration and charity fees. Charities Aid Foundation details at


Investors with a small number of shares – perhaps worth less than £100 in total – can use a specially established scheme called ShareGift. This pools shares provided by donors to cut the cost of selling them. Once sold, it passes proceeds to chosen charities. For more details, visit


Donations to good causes can be made by shoppers spending on a charity credit card. The cards make a small donation to a favourite charity with every transaction.

Data collector Moneyfacts says among the most competitive at present is Co-op Bank’s RSPB Fixed Rate Platinum Visa.

This donates £18 when opened and pays the bird charity 0.25 per cent on purchases. Interest on uncleared balances is 11.9 per cent.

The Virgin Money Charity Credit Card Visa does not offer an opening donation but pays out a more generous 0.8 per cent value of purchases to charity. Interest on uncleared balances is 12.9 per cent.

Shoppers might find it is better value to take out a cashback credit card and later hand over the extra money to charity – and also claim Gift Aid tax relief.

Among the best deals is the American Express Platinum Cashback Card. This pays back five per cent for the first three months of spending, up to a total £100 cashback limit, and 1.25 per cent cashback on further spending. It has a £25 annual fee and 18.5 per cent interest rate.

The comments below have not been moderated.

Before giving to any charity I like to know how much those running the charity are earning – if they earn more than me then no deal.
Supporting a charity is one thing, supporting the rich is something else.


29/10/2012 17:25

There is a lot of money in charity…

Lucky Lulu

29/10/2012 10:38

Sorry – but I just cannot afford to give to charity anymore, I just dont have any money spare, thanks to our caring Government.


29/10/2012 09:26

Gift is not verb. Is this another irritating Americanism?

Spitfire Charlie

29/10/2012 07:08

I think that a lot of our charity organisations should look at themselves as the Majority that i get asking for donatios are based in nice parts of the South. Where housing and living costs are not cheap yet they all have well paid CEO’s and staff and constantly send out trivial gifts as bribes instead of spending all or most of the money on research. I think it is time to move to the North to find a saving in their costs.

David North Yorks

29/10/2012 00:28

If you want to increase charitable giving then ban lotteries.


29/10/2012 00:02

It’s worth pointing out that legacies to registered UK charities are exempt from Inheritance Tax (but if you only give that way, charities can’t benefit from Gift Aid while you are alive!). Most points for giving of yourself, though.


Surrey, United Kingdom,
28/10/2012 19:04

As Chris from Doset said there are so many charities many covering the same cause, well meaning people set up a charity when a loved one dies, why not add their weight behind an existing charity for all those already set up there must be one which follows your ideals, the extra help and costs savings especially to some of the smaller charities would go to improving the lot of those it was helping.


28/10/2012 17:49

Toby mentions my new website – – which will give people the opportunity to turn things that they do every day into donations for whichever cause they like, and the plan is that could even be to raise money for say their local school, or straight to an individual who needs help, for example to fund medical treatment or buy a wheelchair. At the same time if people do want to raise money for a major charity then they can rest assured that the money will go straight to them, making it a very cost effective way of raising money. After all, having had cancer and survived thanks to treatment that simply wasn’t available just ten years ago, I’ve got every bit of respect for the big charities like Cancer Research, Prostate Cancer UK, and of course Macmillan who provided such great support.


London, United Kingdom,
28/10/2012 13:54

Last time I checked there were over half a million charities in the UK, many of which are rich beyond imagination, for example the RNLI has over half a billion quid in the bank but that pales into insignificance compared to the Church Commissioners who have over five billion quid. RJimmer’s advice is sound – find (and check) an “at home” charity which you can see is good and which applies donations to relieving hardships rather than paying wages, pensions, company cars, private health care etc. and support them, if you are going to support anything at all. Definitely don’t bother supporting the Church roof fund – they can afford it a thousand times over.


28/10/2012 07:06

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