Net gain for charities

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The Independent Online
THE INTERNET offers an alternative to the seasonal stockpiling of consumer durables. Two websites run by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) make giving to charity easier and more tax-efficient.

Under a Give as You Earn scheme, anyone in full-time employment can elect to give a regular sum to one or more charities. The money comes direct from the donor's gross pay. The scheme uses the employer's payroll system, so there is no need for charities to go through the time-consuming process of claiming back the tax. The Give as You Earn website has full details of the scheme, including application forms that donors can download and fill in, and a donation calculator that works out the value of any gifts, taking tax relief into account.

For donors who want a more flexible way to give, CAF offers personal Give as You Earn accounts. The minimum monthly donation for an account is pounds 10. Again, the money can come direct from gross pay, but the funds are held by CAF. Donors are then given a charity cheque book, which they can use to make donations to the causes of their choice. The account combines the commitment and the tax advantages of regular giving with the option to make spontaneous gifts to causes such as disaster relief appeals.

CAF's other website promotes its Charity Card. This works either with a Give as You Earn account or on its own. Card holders put money into their accounts and can then use the card rather like a credit card. They can give money to charities or other voluntary organisations over the phone or through a secure area of the Charity Card site. The on-line donation section will be a great benefit to smaller charities with limited funds for advertising their appeals.

So far, CAF has 1,640 organisations registered to receive Charity Card donations. These include traditional charities and aid bodies, as well as a range of other good causes, including theatres, arts organisations, conservation groups and housing trusts.

Links: Give as You Earn, http://www.giveasyouearn.org; Charity Card, http://www. charitycard.org

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