Band Aid isn't the only charity single looking to raise money this year. A musically minded group of people in Kent have produced their own record in support of a fabulous children's cause called Taylor-Made Dreams.
The charity, established to enable youngsters with life limiting illnesses to achieve their dreams when time is short, has recorded the catchy tune It's Christmas time, which is now available via its website (taylormadedreams.net).
This is just one of the innovative ways in which charities are raising awareness and funds. Even though an impressive £10.4bn was raised in 2012-13, a constant supply of cash is needed to continue the good work. Here is our 10-point guide on how to make a difference.
Have a clearout
Clear out your wardrobe, go through your loft and donate any unwanted items. Charity shops are always desperate for good-quality items, whether it's clothes, electrical goods or books – just as long as they are in a decent and saleable condition. Find a shop by visiting charityretail.org.uk.
Send a charity card
Send charity Christmas cards – and pay attention to how much money from the sale of each pack goes to the cause itself. Check out Card Aid (cardaid.co.uk), where you can design and buy a wide variety of traditional and e-Cards.
Buy a Christmas present
If you are stuck for innovative present ideas then check out Good Gifts (goodgifts.org), which enables you to purchase unconventional gifts. For example, £5 will buy a toothbrush and toothpaste for an African child, £25 will protect a 12-mile stretch of greenbelt land from developers, and £1,250 will equip a poor Indian neighbourhood with a complete library.
Make a donation
Whatever you donate, make sure it's done tax efficiently as this can be a huge help to your charity of choice. Two of the most effective methods are Gift Aid and payroll giving. Charities are able to reclaim basic- rate tax that a donor has already paid on a donation if they have signed a Gift Aid declaration. This would make a £1 donation worth £1.25 to the charity. Payroll giving means people can give directly to nominated charities out of their pay before tax is deducted. This means a £1 donation would only cost a basic-rate taxpayer 80p.
Support charity events
A number of websites are now providing links to good causes to which you can donate. Justgiving.com has helped thousands of individuals raise millions of pounds for various causes.
Make a commitment
Consider making a regular donation to a favoured charity – such as by monthly direct debit or standing order. The Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary (www.barbykeel.btck.co.uk) in Sidley, East Sussex, for example, offers the chance to sponsor one of its residents.
Hand over a few pence
Giving to charity doesn't always mean making big donations. Even a few pence can make an enormous difference. For example, if every household in the UK gave just 25p this Christmas it would raise more than £6m, according to Alison Hutchinson, chief executive officer of Pennies, the digital charity box. Pennies enables people to donate by either pressing 'YES' on chip & pin machines or clicking on the 'Donate' button if shopping online.
Leaving a legacy
People often leave charitable gifts in their wills. This reduces the amount of inheritance tax that will need to be paid on their estate. Charity Commission data shows that legacies are worth around £2bn-a-year to charities.
This is a relatively unknown way to give to charity, but also a tax efficient one. People can give shares directly to charity as long as they are listed on a recognised stock exchange. Donors will get full tax relief on any capital gains tax.
Offer to become a volunteer
Money is obviously important to any charity but committing your time can be as valuable. Find out what's going on in your local area or log on to TimeBank (timebank.org.uk), the national charity inspiring people to volunteer.
Eve Moloney, 74: 'I buy Christmas presents in a charity shop'
For me it's important to give back at Christmas so I do this by volunteering at my local British Heart Foundation (BHF) shop and by buying all of my Christmas presents there. I lost my parents to heart disease. My dad died far too young, at 40. He lost his parents to heart disease too. My mum was diagnosed later on, in her sixties, and lived until she was 84. They say heart disease can effect entire families and, sadly, in my case that is true. It has tried its luck with me. I can't be grateful enough for those researchers who are discovering new ways to help heart patients. Without them I probably wouldn't be here today.
To help give back and to raise money for heart disease, I've volunteered at my local BHF shop in Thornbury for the past five years. I love it. It's a nice place to be and we all work so well as a team.
I started buying my Christmas gifts from the shop as there are just so many interesting things that catch my eye while I'm volunteering. They have so many unique gifts at really low prices, so it's easy to find something for all of the family. Best of all, 100 per cent of the profits raised goes into the fight against heart disease.
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