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How to give generously without spending a penny

BRITAIN is a nation of givers. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, in 2017 we donated £10.3billion, a pleasing 7.3 per cent increase on the £9.6billion given in 2016. According to the National Philanthropic Trust UK, most donors — 58 per cent of us — prefer giving cash. But what if that’s not possible? You can still give generously without spending a bean…

Filling charity bags

This is one of the easiest ways to donate, often without having to leave the house. Many charities post empty bags through letterboxes asking for unwanted items, which can be left on the kerb on specific dates.

If you’re worried about goods being collected by bogus charities, you can pop along to your local shop. At most of them, if you are a UK tax payer, you can sign up for retail Gift Aid, which can earn the charity an extra 25p per £1 they raise from your donations.

Recycling as you upgrade

Research from CompareMyMobile says that more than 77million unused mobile phone handsets worth a tidy £9.4billion are gathering dust in UK drawers. Donating your old phone to charity could make up to £70. So far, Recycle4Charity has raised £1.2million and kept 338,861kg out of landfill. They’ll also recycle ink cartridges.

Charities like Oxfam let you donate smartphones via your local shop or courier, or the Fone Bank scheme will allow you to trade your phone in for cash while making a donation of 25 per cent to 100 per cent.

Meanwhile ComputersforCharities need working equipment with an i3 core or above, including laptops, desktops and Mac Book Pros. They securely remove the data for free, refurbish equipment and then work with global charities to set up computer systems in 106 countries.

You can even donate your old banger to Charity Car to help raise money for one of their 70 charity partners. The car will be collected for free, even if it is not road-worthy, and either sold for scrap or auctioned off.

Supporting food banks

If your kitchen cupboards are overflowing with food you don’t want, you could donate it to your local food bank, supermarket collection point or host your own collection at a school, church or business.

Over 90 per cent of the food distributed by food banks in The Trussell Trust network is donated by the public, with 10,573 tonnes contributed in 2015/16 providing more than one million cases of three-day emergency food to people in crisis.

Food parcels contain nutritionally balanced, non-perishable tinned and dried foods plus non-food items like toiletries and hygiene products. Visit trusselltrust.org for your local facility.

Online shopping and searching

Tab For A Cause is an app that helps you organise your browser tabs with photos, notes and to-do lists — and every time you open a new tab, money is given to charity. The app is funded through adverts and all of the profits are given to partner charities. To date it has raised over $610,000 (£470,000) for charity.

Search engine GoodSearch gives half of the advertising revenue generated by your queries to its charity partners, from which you can select your favourites. You can search from the site or install the GoodSearch toolbar.

Shopping app Give As You Live lets you raise funds for charity while shopping with retailers like booking.com, ASOS and Tesco. Users can choose between 4,100 retailers and 220,000 charities.

If you want to flex your brain while fighting world hunger, try Free Rice. Each time you correctly answer a question, the banner advert will generate enough cash for the World Food Programme to buy 10 grains of rice. You can set the level of questions from easy to hard on a scale of 1 to 60, making it satisfying mentally as well as socially.

Sharing rewards

Many retailers offer loyalty rewards for shopping with them and there are a growing number of ways to convert these points into charity cash.

Social enterprise For Good Causes claims there’s more than £7billion of unused points, air miles and cashback in the UK, which they want to help users donate to charity.

By signing into a rewards provider like Quidco you can select a For Good Causes gift card, then the value you’d like to donate to your chosen charity; they receive 90 per cent, with the rest covering admin charges.

Money-saving website TopCashback offers a similar service. Through the website, members earn money back on everything they buy when they click through to retailers, making an average of £325 a year. There is the option to donate this cash back to dozens of charities, from national big names like Macmillan, NSPCC and the RSPCA to specific local charities. To date, members have raised £130,000.

Localised schemes are also popping up, like Loyalty Pro in Chester. Using one loyalty card or app from all participating community retailers, customers can donate excess points to local registered charities.

Become a companion

Do something pawsitive: Be a dog companion and take a rescue animal for a walk PICTURE: ALAMY

You don’t even have to leave home to help. With Age UK’s Call In Time phone befriender service, volunteers ring older people for a friendly chat. If you prefer something face-to-face, join the Befriend In Your Community scheme: you visit someone in their home to build up regular chats and a lasting friendship.

If you fancy exercise, why not be a dog companion and take a rescue animal for a walk? Even if you’re not in a position to adopt a dog you can spend a few hours a week or month walking one at your local rescue centre, keeping yourself and the dog healthy. On the other hand you can even volunteer your own cat or dog to comfort and soothe others. Pets As Therapy provides therapeutic visits in hospitals, special needs schools, nursing and care homes. Your pet just needs to have been with you for at least six months, be over nine months old, fully vaccinated and be able to pass the temperament test.

Giving time

According to the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane, the UK’s army of volunteers donate up to 4.4billion hours per year — equivalent to 1.7 hours per week for every citizen over 16 years old. An hour a week for a club, charity or organisation is worth £750 a year and there is evidence that volunteering improves health and wellbeing for those involved.

Check if your workplace has a volunteer scheme or contact your local council or volunteering centre to see what opportunities are available in your area. There is also more and more micro-volunteering: small tasks as part of a larger project, which can be completed on a smartphone or internet-enabled device.

Donate hair and milk

Little Princess Trust provides real hair wigs to anyone up to 24 years old who has lost their hair due to cancer treatment and other illnesses.

The charity has specific guidelines and can only use hair measuring over 17cm in length of a natural colour, although it can be dyed. Once cut, it can be posted to the organisation.

Giving blood is a fantastic way to support those in urgent need, but less well-known is the donation of breast milk, which can help to save the lives of premature and sick babies whose mothers are unable to provide them with sufficient milk.

There are many milk banks in the UK which will accept donations after sending out a questionnaire, blood test and storage bottles. Check out ukamb.org to find your nearest one

Matched gifting

If you can donate money, it’s always worth seeing if you can make your dosh go further via an employee-matching gift programme. Many UK companies from large multi-nationals to small regional firms will match your donation pound for pound as part of their corporate social responsibility.

It’s usually administered via payroll and it is worth checking your benefits and rewards scheme with human resources to see if they offer it.

Don’t forget to Gift Aid

Donating via Gift Aid makes £1.3billion per year. It costs you nothing but it lets charities claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give.

You need to make a declaration for the charity to claim, and you must pay enough tax to qualify for Gift Aid because it works as a tax relief scheme. Your donations will qualify as long as they are not more than four times what you paid in tax in the current tax year.

According to HMRC, charities miss out on £560million of Gift Aid every year because it is not claimed on about a third of eligible donations — so when you give, Gift Aid too.

Sobering thought…

The average person spends approximately £65 a month on alcohol, says Macmillan Cancer Support, so why not save money, get healthy and raise cash by going booze-free for 31 days? It’s not too late to sign up for Go Sober for October via gosober.org.uk. There is even a get-out clause because if you have a special drinking occasion this month you can buy a Golden Ticket to give you the night off for a £15 donation.