The last few years have been tough for both charities and their fundraisers. With many charities suffering from funding cutbacks, Ian Clark explains how donors can help when times are hard for everyone.
- Charities really appreciate supporters who stick by them through thick and thin. So consider using bank standing orders or direct debits, whether on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis.
- Use Gift Aid. If you are a tax payer, the taxman has taken 20 per cent basic rate tax from your salary. If you sign a Gift Aid declaration it enables the charity to reclaim the tax you have already paid, at no cost to you. If you are a higher-rate taxpayer, you can reclaim some of the tax you have paid. Or if your employer or pension provider runs a payroll giving scheme, use that to ensure the charity gets your tax rather than the taxman.
- Review your giving regularly. Inflation impacts charities just as much as everyone else. So when you are able to increase (or have to decrease) your donations, rethink how much you should give to each of the causes you support. You may decide that some charities spend supporters’ gifts more effectively than others, or have a greater impact on the community in your opinion.
- Give your time and skills. Most charities welcome volunteers, even if you can only offer a few hours each week or month.
- Remember your favourite charities in your will. Next time you update your will, after providing for those you care for, consider leaving gifts to your favourite causes. Gifts to charities also reduce your estate’s inheritance tax liability.
- Give a percentage of your income. Various initiatives have tried to get people to give one percent of their income every year to good causes. Surveys show that typically the wealthy give a smaller share away than less well-off people do. All the major world faiths teach their members to give generously. The Church of England, for example, challenges its members to give five per cent of take-home income to their local church activities and the same to other agencies.
- Give your possessions. Most charities welcome donations of ‘things’ as well as money. These can be items that they can use in their work or that they can sell for a profit. Talk to the charity first, as it may be possible to get extra Gift Aid.
- Give your investment assets. Most charities welcome the gifts of shares or other financial investments, and such gifts may also reduce your personal tax bill, as they are exempt from income and capital gains tax.
Ian Clark works for the Church of England in Sussex, supporting 500 local churches. They need to raise £25 million a year in voluntary donations to develop their local community activities like youth groups, senior lunch clubs, bereavement counselling etc. He writes here in a private capacity, based on several decades of experience of working with a wide range of charities and voluntary bodies.
This article first appeared in Charity Choice magazine