Blog post

7 Tips for More Cost-Effective Giving

5 min read
5 Aug 2015

Have you taken the Giving What We Can pledge? Maybe you’re trying giving. Or you’ve switched your old donations to more effective ones. Perhaps you’re fundraising for effective charities.

Whatever you are doing it’s fantastic.

Thanks to Giving What We Can we know donating to a top charity makes a huge difference. What you might be missing to make your giving go even further are just a few tips on the method or timing of your giving.

Here are 7 tips to make your giving that bit more effective.

1. Gift Aid

In 2012 only 39% of people claimed Gift Aid on their donations, down from 42% in 2011.

Gift Aid allows charities to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give without it costing you anything. In 2012 the collective charitable tax relief schemes were worth £3.85 billion. To allow your charity to claim Gift Aid when you donate you need to declare it by signing a form or ticking a box when you donate. Your donations will qualify as long as they’re not more than four times what you have paid in tax in that tax year (6 April to 5 April). Higher rate taxpayers can claim the difference between the rate they pay and basic rate on their donation. Just complete a Self Assessment tax return or ask HMRC to amend your tax code. By doing this on a donation of £100 you could raise an extra £25 for your charity through standard Gift Aid and personally claim back £25 (20%, the difference between the base rate of tax and your higher, 40% tax rate).

Which country are you in?

Don’t forget that the tax relief you can claim might depend on which country your charity is registered in. For instance, SCI is a registered charity only in the UK. But Deworm the World Initiative is registered as a charity in the US. If you live in the UK you can claim Gift Aid on all the top charities by donating to the Giving What We Can Trust, which will then transfer your donation to your chosen effective charities.

2. Give Monthly

Approximately a third of all charitable donations are made during the holiday season. Understandably many people save their money throughout the year and see what they have left to donate at the end. It may seem more impactful to send over a large sum once a year but you and your charity could likely benefit by you donating monthly. By donating monthly you are getting into the habit of giving. You also allow your charity to plan. Monthly donations tend to be much more predictable than yearly ones, allowing your charity to make better decisions and plan long term projects. They can also spend less on trying to persuade you to donate again as you stop looking like a one-off donor.

3. Payment Method

Back in 2010 when the crisis broke out in Haiti there was also outrage over the fact that credit card companies were making money off of the donations pouring in. If you’re donating to your charity using a credit card or payment service they may well be taking a percentage of your donation. With the most effective charities even 2% or 3% can add up to a lot of missed opportunities for treatment or prevention. Nerd Wallet gives some insight into the different fees different payment methods incur. Often a simple standing order, whilst involving slightly more paperwork, is well worth all of your money going to your chosen charity.

4. Fundraising Page

Similar to donating to directly to a charity, if you’re fundraising it pays to shop around when setting up your fundraising page. Different fundraising sites such as Justgiving or Virgin Money Giving have different amounts that they charge charities for the service and different percentages they take from each donation. Bear in mind your charity will need to be registered for the service for you to use it and it may not be cost effective for them to join lots of different services. That said, support for newer services with little or no fees such as Givey will only encourage charities to use them. One easy answer on which fundraising site to use is to ask your charity where they are registered and discuss the fees. Money Saving Expert also has a clear breakdown of the costs associated with the most popular fundraising sites.

5. Free money

I mentioned in a previous post how you can raise money for charities by free by installing the Give As You Live or Easy Fundraising bars on your computer. Now, in conjunction with Give As You Live Sainsbury’s have released an Everyday Shopper card. Top it up with the money you plan to spend in store and Sainsbury’s will donate 4% of that amount to a chosen charity –including the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.

6. Payroll Giving

Some companies have charitable giving schemes where you can donate through your payroll. Because the donation is given before tax the charity automatically gets more, regardless of what level of tax you pay. Speak to your HR department where possible and see if this is something your company offers.

7. Don’t get a charity credit card…

...get a cash back card instead. Whilst the name may be enticing and raising money for charity whilst you spend sounds like a great idea, you can do a lot more with a cashback card. If your charity credit card gives you 25p every time you spend £100 but your cashback card gives you £5 and you can just donate it, which is the better deal?

And there you have it. These small actions don’t have any where near the impact that switching to a more effective charity do but if you’re already donating to the top charities why not get as much money for them as possible?

When you think that deworming tablets cost as little as 50p every little really does help.

Do you have any tips for raising more money for the best charities you can share? Just post them in the comments box and help others do that little bit more good.