/ Money

How do you like to give to charity?

Charity worker on high street

Brits are a generous bunch – according to the Charities Aid Foundation UK adults donated £9.3bn to charity between 2011 and 2012. And over half of us donate to charity in a typical month. But what’s the best way to give?

There are a wide range of ways people can donate. And if you’re anything like me you’ll often drop a £1 in a bucket with little thought. But what about if you really want to make a difference for your chosen cause?

Of course, charities most value people who donate regularly over the years. Yet, the methods charities use to sign-up donors can sometimes raise heckles.

High street and door-to-door fundraisers are certainly a controversial topic. Our posts on chuggers often gain a mixed response, but this comment from Erin sums up typical feelings:

‘If I want to give to a charity, I will give to them of my own accord. Any charity that harasses me simply ensures I will never give to them again.’

Giving through your payroll

There’s lots of research that suggests the majority or people only donate to charity after being asked, whether in an advert or by someone in the street. But if you know you want to give, why not cut out the middleman and set-up a direct debit directly with the charity?

Or if you’re in work, ‘payroll giving’ is a good way to give to charity on a regular basis. The money comes out of your pre-tax salary and can go to any charity at all. Your employer will need to have an arrangement with a payroll-giving agency – the biggest of which is Give As You Earn.

Regular giving with charity credit cards

You could also get yourself a charity credit card. These are less common than they used to be, with Lloyds notably pulling its charity credit card last year. But Co-op and MBNA both still offer charity credit cards that support a number of well-known charities, such as the RSPCA, British Heart Foundation and Save the Children.

These cards will donate 25p per £100 spent to your chosen charity, which isn’t exactly an earth-shattering sum. In fact,  you could donate far more by getting a cashback credit card that pays back 1% on your spending and then give that cashback to charity. Still, every penny counts, so charity credit cards can still be a valid way to donate.

So I want to know – do you regularly donate to charity? How do you prefer to give?

P Hunter says:
25 November 2013

I work as a volunteer for Cards for Good Causes. They guarantee that a minimum of 70% goes to the charity. You will find these shops in local libraries, churches, tourist Information Centres, etc. and they sell cards from a huge selection of charities.

Neil Stevens Consulting Ltd says:
27 November 2013

Having established my own company 2 years ago I wanted to make regular donations to charity from the company. I set up a Charities Aid Foundation company account and make monthly payments by direct debt – currently £50 per month. I decide every now and again which charities to support – either in response to clients or colleagues taking part in fundraising events, or in response to world events such as the current Philippines tragedy. Every now and again I also make single payments as an individual to support specific events such as Children in Need or Comic Relief.

Stuart says:
12 December 2013

Giving money to Children in Need or Comic Relief is not a good way of donating. You lose the benefit of tax relief and as the money goes to the BBC you have no control over where your money goes. Participating celebrities often take a “cut” and as shown recently the money is not given to charity but invested in inappropriate investments.


I wondered why the article in the December 2013 issue of Which? didn’t mention the Charities Aid Foundation, through which I also have given to different charities for years. It’s a painless method: the money you give builds up in your account each month and the tax rebate is automatically added to it so you choose which charity to send it to. You can send vouchers to the charities of your choice or use a card.

Albert Granville says:
29 November 2013

I was surprised that your recent feature on “Giving To Charity” made no mention of the Charities Aid Foundation. A large number of people, including me, give a regular monthly sum to CAF under Gift Aid. CAF recovers tax and adds the amount received to your charity account. You draw on this account with a Charity Cheque Book or by Standing Order to support the charities of your choice.

Peter Anderson says:
8 December 2013

Charities should be scored and ranked based on how much of every pound donated actually gets through to the actual cause after admin costs, collection costs etc. That would be a good thing for Which to include next time it looks at this topic.


I agree, Peter. The public should have this information before they make a single donation.

This is not the only factor that is important financially. How do we know how money donated is spent? It could be spent very effectively or frittered away on worthless projects or used to pay staff who are not doing a very good job.

Then there are charities doing vital work that should really be supported by governments and those that seek to improve the quality of people’s lives.

It’s all very complicated, but it would a good start for charities to provide the information that Peter has asked for and for Which? to provide us with a report.


Good idea in principle but difficult to define unnecessary admin costs.
A charity which carefully manages how its money is spent on projects and regularly checks on their progress etc will have much higher admin costs but know that most of its money is being spent appropriately than one which which just writes out cheques and posts them to the project providers.


I agree, Robert. I know the problems but certainly don’t have the answers. 🙁