Filling a collection tin, signing up to a monthly direct debit or giving old clothes to a local charity shop is about as far as most of us go for a good cause in our daily life.
But increasingly, charities are looking to get us to go beyond all this and give not just our money but also our gadgets, printer cartridges, household goods and even our cars.
Giveacar.co.uk is the latest way that people can give to charity by handing over the keys of their vehicle. Taking advantage of the high price of scrap metal and burgeoning second-hand car market, the not-for-profit giveacar organisation offers to take your old, unwanted motor and either scrap or sell it, diverting the bulk of the money raised to charity.
"We all know that cars begin to devalue the minute you drive them out of the dealership, and after 10-15 years of use it is no longer economical for them to be used in part exchange. Rather than its value going back to the motor giants, we thought, 'why not give it to charity?'" says founder Tom Chance.
Giveacar will collect your car for free, then sell or scrap it to raise money for UK charities (deducting 25 per cent to cover running costs) and you can choose to donate all, or half the money raised from the sale. Collections are done within three days from across the UK. You can pick the charity you want to benefit from the cash raised as long as it is registered with the site, which is free. The site will accept old motorbikes too.
There are, of course, other ways to turn your unwanted goods into cash for worthy causes.
Recycle your bike
UK charity Re-Cycle focuses on bicycles, so if you have one lying unused in your garage, it could be used to provide cheap, sustainable transport in Africa instead.
Re-Cycle will take any bike in reasonable condition (tools and parts are also in demand), although you must drop off your bike at their warehouse in Colchester, Essex or sell it on the dedicated Re-Cycle eBay page.
Bulky items such as computers are usually a hassle to get rid of, but matchmaking service Donateapc (donateapc.web-preview.co.uk) enables you to give unwanted hardware to UK charities and education establishments. There are also recognised hardware recycling organisations (find a list at itforcharities.co.uk).
Sell your mobile
Mobile phone recycling is big business today with a host of websites offering to take your old handsets for cash.
You can usually make more money selling handsets that are in good condition yourself (on eBay for example), but if you want to give directly to charity pick one of the companies that will donate a percentage of the value on your behalf.
Recycle your printer cartridges
You can recycle inkjet cartridges with Boots, worth 100 Advantage Card points to you and a 20p donation to Macmillan. Alternatively, use charitable recycling programmes such as Greensource.co.uk, EachOneCounts.co.uk and Recycle4charity.co.uk.
"Everyday office items like mobile phones, inkjet cartridges and laptops can be recycled with Greensource.co.uk," says Jasmine Birtles from consumer website Moneymagpie.com.
Recycle your books
Send them to recycling site Greenmetropolis.com. It will give you £2.50 or £2 to cover postage costs and then credit your nominated charity (The Woodland Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support or Age UK) with 50p or £1.
Recycle your tools
Even your old Black & Decker could help raise money for charity with TWAM (Tools With a Mission), which collects and refurbishes tools to send overseas.
… and don't forget Gift Aid
If you're taking a bag of unwanted items to a charity shop, fill in a declaration form to allow it to reclaim gift aid and boost the money your items can add to its coffers.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies