Giving to charity doesn't have to involve filling out loads of forms and setting up standing orders.
Here are 10 easier ways to donate your cash.
Use charity cashback
We’re increasingly familiar with cashback websites like Topcashback and Quidco, where we click links to our favourite retailers through the site, and for everything we spend, we get a percentage back. Easyfundraising.org.uk and Giveasyoulive.com do the same thing, but for your favourite charity.
Around Christmas, you can make a surprisingly large donation to your chosen charity, just by buying those things you would have bought anyway, and taking advantage of charity cashback.
Use normal cashback
There is a way to give a little more with this method: by using a normal cashback site and donating the money you make to a charity. That way you can take advantage of the fact that sometimes you get better rates of cashback from the bigger players.
No one site offers the best cashback for every single retailer, but the large players often offer more. It simply comes down to whether you can spare the time to work out your cashback earnings, and then arrange to donate it to charity.
Use a cashback credit card
You used to be able to get a huge number of charity credit cards – offering donations to charity when you took them out, plus cashback every time you shopped. These are thinner on the ground nowadays, because a number of banks have pulled out of the sector, but there are still a few available, including one for the RSPCA, and a range of Co-operative Bank cards for charities including Oxfam and Save the Children.
Unfortunately, as a general rule, these are not terribly generous, so if you want to use a cashback credit card to give to charity, you are far better off getting a normal cashback card, and then making a donation yourself.
Of course, the normal rule applies: if you think there’s ever any risk of you paying interest on one of these cards, steer well clear, because the interest rate will quickly wipe out any cashback you receive.
Cashback on travel
Booking.com has launched a pilot fundraising service, which lets you raise money for the local community charity of your choice.
The new Community Programme lets you sign up the charity, and once it has been vetted by the Booking.com team, you will be sent a link. You can then forward it to anyone else who is interested in the charity, and every time they book travel through the site, it will donate a percentage of the booking price to the group.
Given that we spend so much on holidays, the cashback soon adds up. If you're interested, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book a seat in a restaurant
ChariTable is a fundraising website, which enables you to donate money just by going to a restaurant. You just use charitablebookings.org, or the app, to make a telephone booking direct with the restaurant, and then confirm it.
That way you’ll raise £1 per diner for any one of more than 7,000 charities at no cost to you.
Eat in a restaurant
There are a huge number of charitable events running in restaurants throughout the year. One of the most famous is Action Against Hunger, which runs in September and October, and will either ask you if you want to donate when you eat, or the restaurant will donate when you order a specific dish.
A new idea for this year is Cook for Syria, which runs between the end of October and the end of November. A number of restaurants will be giving a Syrian twist to one of their dishes, and making a donation to Unicef’s work in Syria for each one ordered.
Shop with a partner
Large charities will often tie up with retail partners, offering special deals when you shop with them. If there’s a charity that’s close to your heart, it’s worth checking their website for partner deals.
The RSPCA, for example, has arrangements with everyone from Laithwaites (which offers £50 off your first case plus £10 for the RSPCA), to Hoseasons (which offers 5% off your holiday plus a 5% donation to the charity too).
Vote in a mutual’s AGM
If you save, take out a mortgage, or invest with a mutual society, you will often become a member. This gives you the right to vote in the annual general meeting.
To encourage you to do so, a number of mutuals will make a donation for every vote received. This year, for example, the Yorkshire Building Society donated 25p for every online vote cast and 15p for every postal one to Marie Curie.
They said at the time that if every member voted they would help Marie Curie nurses provide 2,000 hours of care. So if you are a member of a mutual, don’t just throw the AGM pack away.
Search the internet
You can raise money for charity every time you search the internet, if you use Savoo.co.uk. It’s powered by Bing, so will produce the same results as a Bing search, but for every unique search you make, the site will donate 1p to your chosen charity.
While you’re there, you can also check out the Savoo voucher codes, because if you use a voucher code to save money, it will donate up to 50% of the commission it makes to the charity too.
Tick the Gift Aid box
There’s a decent chance that you already know that every time you donate to charity, you may be able to Gift Aid your donation. This option is open to anyone who pays income tax in the UK, and allows the charity to claim back the tax you have paid on your charitable donation.
It can only claim basic rate tax, but if you are a higher rate taxpayer you can reclaim the rest through your tax return.
The amount the charity can reclaim is not to be sniffed at as it adds another 25% of value onto your donation, which can make an enormous difference.
It may also be news to you that you don’t have to donate money to qualify for Gift Aid – any kind of donation can count. When you donate to a charity shop, ask if they have a Gift Aid scheme.
In many cases, you can sign up online and receive tags to attach to your bags of donations, to enable them to easily reclaim the Gift Aid. Alternatively, you can sign up when you drop your bags into a shop.
Save in a charity account (when rates get better)
In times of higher interest rates, this list would also include charity affinity savings accounts. These are savings accounts that will donate a portion of the cash in the account to a specific charity.
There are plenty of these accounts still on the market. The trouble is that because we are struggling to make a meaningful amount of interest from our savings at the moment, most savers need to focus exclusively on making enough in interest to keep pace with inflation.
Take the NSPCC charity account from Furness Building Society, for example. It offers 0.1% interest, plus a donation of 0.5% of the total balance in your account to charity.
It’s a generous enough donation, but 0.1% interest is going to see the value of your savings significantly eroded by inflation.
It means that, for now, these kinds of deals are unlikely to appeal, but they are worth bearing in mind when interest rates rise again.