A question of fundraising....

I've been asked a question... From a mate at work... They've been thinking about doing a direct debit donation to a charity and were just curious on my views on what sort of charity to give to...

In the interests of fairness, to them, I should point out that they've got personal interest in a number areas other than this crazy dicky ticker world of mine - so I wasn't going to give them any of the details for Children's Heart Federation... Unless they asked;-) Which they didn't, but they have supported me in the past...

So, how would I decide...

1) Check it's a charity... If it brings in more that £5000 a year they should have a charity number, and you should be able to find them on the charity commission website (of which more later)... If its smaller than that, then I'd probably ask if they've a constitution (there are plenty of model ones out there if they haven't you may be helping them).

That may sound paranoid, but there's unscrupulous companies that'll look like charities in their promotional material that may fool you and the full on scam merchants.

2) Phone them up - do they sound like people you'd like to deal with? Do they chime with what you want your money to do?

3) Do they spend the money others have given them? This is one of my bugbears... If I give money to a charity I expect the charity to use it to support the cause I'm giving it to them for - not to sit in a bank account!!!

This is a point in law - Charity trustees have a general legal duty to spend income within a reasonable time of receipt.

Most charities do need to have reserves - the amount of money it keeps in the bank for those months when fundraising isn't very successful, but when you look at their accounts (I'll show you where in a second) look and see if you think the amount kept feels reasonable (my gut normally says 12 months feels about right - but that's my gut, yours might be different).

Now in coming out of a recession a lot of charities have had to dip long and hard into their reserves to survive, and if they have survived (and plenty haven't) will be working hand to mouth whilst trying to build up a reserve again - hopefully before something else happens...

4) Do you care? My biggest bit of advice is only to give your hard earned money to a cause you care about... That may seem odd but the advent of people on the high street asking you for a monthly donation means that some people give to charities they don't rally care for and end up resenting it.

5) If you care try and be efficient - use giftaid, let the charities reclaim the tax you pay.

So what else is there to say... Not a lot, apart from this - none of this counts if a friend is doing something for a cause close to them, if its a challenge to them support it - be a swim, a walk, a run, getting their legs waxed, sitting in custard or pogoing from Lands End to John O'Groats... make them feel good about helping their cause!

Now I promised some links - all of them are here:

You can search for a charity (and get their annual reports, accounts and descriptions of what they do) here http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/showcharity/registerofcharities/registerhomepage.aspx?&=& if you can search by charity number - some charities have different names for different bits...

Advice on reserves policy - http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Library/guidance/cc19text.pdf

Gift aid is here - http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/charities/gift_aid/index.htm

Advice for small charities (so they should be following this) http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/Start_up_a_charity/Do_I_need_to_register/Resources_for_very_small_charities.aspx

That's pretty boring for a blog of mine, but vitally important - your cash is yours!!! Donate it wisely!

On fun stuff - I'm still deciding whether to do 10km or 10 miles tomorrow... decisions, decisions...




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