How to donate on a budget in the UK

Being frugal doesn’t have to be the same as being stingy. You can live frugally and still choose quality, spend in line with your values and be generous. One of the best things about being very intentional with your spending is choosing to put it where it will make the maximum impact.  

This is one area I am really focusing on at the moment because despite believing all of the above I have not been very generous in the past. I’ve been good at saving because I don’t like spending money. Having money signifies having freedom and choices so the tight fists that have made each purchase painful have also prevented me from giving very much. I’ve told myself that I will give more when I’m in a better financial position.  Deep down, I knew that wouldn’t happen if my mindset didn’t change.

In many areas of my life I am focussing more on appreciating the present. Part of this comes through spending on the things that are important to me now. Part of it is also doing the things that will make me the person I want to become. I want to be generous and have a positive impact. Having lots of money won’t make me that way – giving what I can afford now will.

Old habits die hard and even though I’m trying to be generous I still hunt down ways to get the most “bang for my buck”.  I realise I’m not going to win any prizes for giving but I wanted to share these as they do allow you to give more than you would otherwise be able to. If anyone thinks they can’t afford to give anything then there may be some options for you here.

Through your paycheck

Some companies offer Payroll Giving schemes whereby you can donate from your pre tax salary and therefore do not pay tax on that income.  So, if you are a basic rate taxpayer, that allows you to donate 20% extra (or even more if you are a higher rate tax payer).  

The Gift Aid scheme works on a similar principle (except the charity claims an extra 25p for every pound you donate). If you are a higher rate tax payer you can also claim back a further 20% of the total donation through your self assessment.

Through your bank

Reward bank accounts that offer cashback often have an option to donate your cashback instead of converting it into cash or vouchers. My account, with Natwest, even offers a choice of charities.

Another way of supporting charities through your banking is by opening an account at Charity Bank. This bank lends money to charities and social enterprises. Their website shows the impact of the money you are saving (and that they are lending out) so you are able to track how much is going to different regions or different sectors.

Through your shopping

If you use Amazon for shopping then by logging onto Amazon Smile and selecting your chosen charity the site will automatically make a small payment to that cause every time you shop, at no extra cost to you. The donation is 0.5% of the price of the item. So, if you spend £500 a year on eligible products from Amazon, the donation would be £2.50.

Giving “side hustle” money

If your usual budget does not stretch to donations, another way of still being able to give is through setting aside a proportion of an extra money earned (e.g. through selling secondhand items, or doing online surveys) to your chosen charity.

Asking for donations instead of gifts

Asking for donations to your favourite charity instead of receiving gifts is a wonderful way to support a cause if you are low on funds. I personally love the Trees for Life charity which focusses on rewilding the Scottish Highlands. They have options for corporate sponsorships, or you can also buy a grove in memory of someone you have lost.

Keeping motivated

If you are motivated by tracking how your savings, debt pay off and investments are growing then set a goal for how much you would like to give in a year and track it alongside your other goals. Ultimately, the goal is to make an impact, but if making a game out of it is what will spur you on, then embrace that.

Giving time or items can often be just as impactful and in many cases more rewarding. I do do this and will continue to, but I also realise how much impact money can have. Being able to give freely, generously and regularly comes from feeling content and in turn creates more contentment.

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