It needn't cost you a penny to give to charity

Charities are suffering from shrinking donations, but you can still help good causes even if you think you can't afford to

Donations to charities have plummeted since the recession, as belt-tightening has left many hard-up people unable to afford to give to their favourite causes. Figures released on Thursday reveal that donations plunged £70m last year, leaving many charities little better off than they were five years ago.

Cass Business School said voluntary donations slumped for the second year running, by 1.1 per cent to £6.05bn. "Charities are subject to a pincer movement, with their donated and investment incomes reaching a low point just as government spending cuts begin to hit their budgets," warned Professor Cathy Pharoah of the ESRC Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy.

Many people have had to cut back on giving to good causes. But even if you can't afford to make a donation, you can still ensure your favourite charities benefit. By switching credit cards, savings accounts or even your cashback website, you can ensure that you're giving, even when you're can't afford to. Here are some painless and cost-free ways to give to charity.

1. Use a credit card

Switch to a charity credit card. Then, when you apply and every time you use your plastic, your favourite charity can get cash. With Co-operative's Shelter card, for instance, the charity gets £20 when the card is first used, then 25p for every £100 spent. Other charity credit cards include Amnesty, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, Oxfam, RSPB and Save The Children. This only works, of course, if you pay your balance off every month. If you run up a debt on plastic, choose the cheapest card.

2. Build up your savings

Open a savings account with Charity Bank and your money will earn interest while the bank lends your money to charities and social enterprises. Charity Bank's best deal is an ISA paying 2.5 per cent. For a better rate of interest, Coventry Building Society's Poppy Online Saver pays 3.1 per cent. The Royal British Legion will then a get a donation based on the average balance you keep in the account over a year.

3. Get discounts on shopping

Register for free cash rewards at and when you use your debit or credit card at certain retailers you'll earn cash back which can be given to your chosen charity, or shared with it. Buy a BT package under the scheme, for instance, and you'll earn up to £80 cash back which you can share with or hand over to a charity. There are similar schemes offered by and

4. Surf the web

Instead of using Google, use It raises money for charity every time you search the web, shop online or trade on eBay. It uses the Yahoo search engine to return exactly the same results as it would normally, but has raised about £2m for charities.

5. Shop around for insurance

There are a number of websites which offer a donation when you choose a new insurance deal. At, for instance, you can search a number of providers for home, car and personal insurance and when you sign up for a new policy, the website will donate up to £25 to the charity of your choice.

6. Vote!

If you're one of the millions of members of a building society, exercise your right to vote while helping good causes. Most building societies offer a donation to charity of up to 50p in return for members voting, which led to £440,000 being handed over last year. The biggest – Nationwide – has its AGM vote coming up, with the deadline to register votes being Monday 18 July. Last year it raised £240,000 for Macmillan. This year three charities – the Alzheimer's Society, Macmillan and Shelter – will share the money raised.

7. Download music

You can buy music online and help charities at the same time through It donates 50 per cent of all profits to charity and new releases cost 79p, the same as most songs on iTunes. You can even buy a song as a gift for other people and Fairsharemusic will send it to them via email.

8. Give as you earn

Payroll Giving allows you to make donations to charity directly from your pay or company/personal pension. The donations are made after National Insurance but before income tax is deducted. That means you get tax relief on your donation immediately – and at your highest rate of tax. If you pay tax at 40 per cent, for example, and authorise a monthly donation of £10, it would actually cost you just £6. Ask your employer.

9. Write a will

If you don't have a will, you should have. Under Will Aid – which runs in November – a local solicitor writes your will, but instead of paying their fee you are invited to make a donation to Will Aid. The suggested minimum donation is £85 for a basic single will or £125 for a pair of basic mirror wills. Last year the scheme raised more than £1.5m.

10. Buy some retro fashion

Charity shops are a limitless source of good quality, cheap clothes which means you can get some great gear while raising cash for good causes. To find charity shops local to you, go to

11. Round up the pennies

The Pennies Foundation works with major retailers – such as Domino's Pizza and Zizi – to allow customers to round up their purchase to the nearest pound, with the balance distributed to charity. Find out more at

12. Give some time

Be a volunteer through Time Bank using your skills, such as marketing, cooking, sports or accountancy. There are also mentoring projects where you help people on a one-to-one basis. Go to

13. Do good while you're waiting

Orange has a nifty "Do Some Good" app through iPhones – and other phones later in the year – which works out your location and finds small volunteering tasks you can do while waiting for friends or at lunch.

14. Be more tax-efficient

Whenever you make a donation, use the Gift Aid scheme. It allows good causes to reclaim tax on your gift. Find out how to sign up at

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    The benefits of being in Recruitment at SThree...

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: SThree, International Recruitme...

    Test Analyst - UAT - Credit Risk

    £280 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Test Analyst, Edinburgh, Credit Ris...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little