November and December are the most popular months for charitable donations, with many charities relying on their Christmas fundraising campaigns.
Unfortunately, charitable donations have been impacted by the pandemic, and in December 2020 not only did fewer people give to charity than previous years, they also gave less than usual for the time of year: the average donation in December 2020 was £58, compared to £61 in December 2019 and £67 in December 2018.
But with Christmas fast approaching, and the world in a slightly less precarious position than last year, more of us may be starting to think again about how to make a difference to causes close to our hearts this festive season.
With this in mind, Ben Rogers, Chartered Financial Planner at Equilibrium Financial Planning, and Andrew Evans, Philanthropy Adviser to Equilibrium Financial Planning, offer 10 of their top tips that will enable you to maximise the impact of your charitable gifting, while also ensuring it’s sustainable for you and your family:
1. Choose what you value
There are 185,000 charities registered in England and Wales alone, doing amazing work in everything from education to healthcare, poverty relief to ecological protection.
We do not have the ability to improve all areas of human life, so take time to think about the areas you would most like to make a difference. It’s also worth considering local and startup charities, to whom a gift of a few hundred pounds could make an enormous difference.
2. Consider gifting regularly
Particularly for smaller charities, knowing they have regular income makes a huge difference to how well they can plan.
Regular giving helps charities employ staff, take on a building, upgrade IT systems or start a new area of work, with confidence the bills can be paid. Regular giving also helps you develop a relationship with a cause and see the difference that your gifts are making.
3. Involve your family
In a world where it can feel that we are all on separate screens all the time, giving is something we can do together.
Sit down and talk about the causes you could give to as a family. You might have different priorities (for example older family members may be more concerned about health and medical charities, and younger generations about the wellbeing of the planet), which can provide a real opportunity to talk as a family about the things that motivate or worry you, and understand each other better.
4. Do your due diligence
All UK registered charities have to go through a rigorous process to demonstrate that they are spending their money on genuinely charitable causes, so always look for a charity registration number.
You can also visit the Charity Commission’s website to see a charity’s accounts and list of trustees, which can help you understand how it is managed. While there is a tiny handful of ‘bad’ charities, like any other organisations, some are run better than others, and a little bit of research can help you find them.
5. Remember gift aid is a gift
Gift aid brings benefits to both your chosen cause and your tax bill, with charities able to claim an extra 25p from the government for every £1 you give.
If you are a higher rate or additional rate taxpayer, then remember that you can also claim back 20% or 25% of the donation respectively via a tax return. So, for an additional rate taxpayer, a gift of £100 to a charity would end up costing just £68.75. If the charity claims Gift Aid, then they can end up receiving £125 in total.
6. Gift to bring back benefits
If you give money to charity, your taxable income is reduced by the amount that you choose to give. For those with earnings between £50,000-60,000 or over £100,000, charitable donations can mean that your income could fall below the tax threshold, meaning that you could get valuable benefits reinstated, such as Child Benefit or Tax Free Childcare.
7. Make every day pay
For those in full-time employment, giving as you earn means your donation goes further, it costs you less and your charity gets a regular income. With payroll giving, the donations you make to charity are taken from your pay before income tax is deducted. With organisations like Pennies From Heaven, it’s possible to donate up to 99p from each payslip to a charity agreed with your employer, which quickly adds up across businesses.
8. Give while you shop
Easyfundraising and similar schemes turn your everyday online shopping into free donations for your favourite cause. Just start your online shopping first at www.easyfundraising.org.uk, then shop as normal. Retailers will then make a small donation to say “thank you”.
9. Be in the business of giving
If you own a business and wish to gift, then consider gifting from the business rather than your personal account. Donations directly from a business can be subject to less tax. This can also serve to lower your corporate tax liability, which may mean that you can afford to give more to the charity of your choice.
10. Give when you’re gone
When you give to charity directly from your will, the money is free from inheritance tax. Not only that, if you were to leave just 10% of the entire value of your estate, less your allowances, then the rate of inheritance tax reduces from 40-36% meaning those you love, pay less tax and so the cause you care for, will get more.
There are lots of good causes doing some incredible work to help others in the UK and across the world. Whether you wish to support children, animals or environmental projects your donation makes a difference, and your donation comes with financial benefits such as tax reliefs.
We donated to Crisis for Christmas this year as no one should be homeless at Christmas. Crisis also offering lots or support to getting those of the streets permanently.