5 practical ways you can add value to a cause you care about

Joanna Jenkins

Joanna Jenkins

People Manager

Each year, the annual International Day of Charity takes place on 5 September. Originally introduced by the United Nations in 2012, the day marks the anniversary of Mother Theresa’s death and aims to raise awareness about the importance of charity, volunteering, and philanthropy.

According to data published by the Charities Aid Foundation, 2022 was the most generous year for giving ever recorded. In total, the UK public donated an estimated £12.7 billion – an increase of £2 billion from 2021.

Many charities are noticing the effects of the cost of living crisis

This generosity of spirit is good news for charities, but the ongoing cost of living crisis is having a detrimental effect. Research carried out by Charity Link revealed that:

  • 86% of charitable organisations are concerned about the effect cost of living challenges will have on those that depend on their services.
  • More than 80% of charities expect to face difficulties with increased running costs.
  • More than a third anticipate their organisation will struggle to survive in the current economic climate.

Here are five ways you could support a cause you care about:

1. Volunteer your time

You shouldn’t need to venture too far afield to find local volunteering opportunities, as charity initiatives and events commonly take place in local communities. You can support these projects by volunteering your time, helping to organise fund-raising events, or simply by raising awareness.

For those with an adventurous spirit, you could sign-up for a volunteering opportunity abroad, contributing to environmental or conservational programmes or supporting communities e.g. help to build a school, improve sanitation, or provide safe and accessible drinking water.

2. Share your expertise

Taking a different slant on the traditional charitable work, have you considered sharing your unique skills and experience? Offering your time to talk about an area that you are knowledgeable in, or are passionate about, could enhance opportunities for many individuals.

Alternatively, you could explore public speaking or joining a panel at events run by schools or universities, professional or community networks, or workplace seminars or industry events.

If you’re not keen on the above, an alternative option is mentoring. Drawing from your own career, skills, knowledge, and lessons learnt to date, signing up to mentor a young adult, colleague or someone in their early career could positively guide them on a personal and/or professional level.

Depending on your experience and goals, you could find your first opportunity by:

  • Offering to mentor friends and family
  • Joining mentoring networks or websites
  • Offering your services in your community
  • Seeking out professional mentorship roles.

As a trusted mentor, supporting someone work towards their goals and achieve their potential can be hugely rewarding.

3. Take a seat on a charity board

Subject to your experience and how much time you wish to commit, taking on a non-executive director role could be another way to add value to a cause you care about.

A non-executive director provides an independent viewpoint (when required) and constructive challenges to the existing executive directors of a firm, charity, or non-profit organisation.

According to the Companies Act 2006, there’s no distinction between executive and non-executive directors. All directors, both executive and non-executive, are regarded as “officers” of the company.

Whilst executive directors deal with the day-to-day management of the company’s business, as a nonexecutive, you’re likely to be more involved in strategy or governance.

To become a non-executive director, ideally, you’ll need to have strong skills in:

  • Leadership
  • Analytical and creative thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork.

If this is your first foray into a non-exec role, you could gain excellent exposure by volunteering your skills and experience to a not-for-profit organisation or charity.

Please note that whilst a non-executive director is not part of the day-to-day management team, you will still be registered as a director and have legal accountability.

4. Give financial help and gain a variety of tax benefits

There are several ways you can support causes close to your heart.

Gift Aid

Originally introduced in 1990, Gift Aid is a tax incentive to encourage charitable donations, providing benefits for you and the charity you donate to.

As long as the charity is registered for the Gift Aid scheme, the government adds 25p for every £1 you give. As a result, if you donate £1,000 to your favourite cause, the total value to the charity would be £1,250.
To qualify, your donations must not exceed four times the amount you pay in tax for the year (6 April to 5 April).

An added benefit of Gift Aid for higher (and additional) rate taxpayers is that you can claim extra tax relief on donations. Essentially, it’s possible to claim the difference between the highest rate of tax you pay, and the basic rate of tax.

So, if you’re a higher-rate taxpayer, you could reclaim an extra 20%. As an additional-rate taxpayer, you could claim an extra 25%.

Another advantage of Gift Aid is that you can claim the tax relief in the current tax year. Should you want to claim your tax relief sooner, or if you won’t pay higher-rate tax in the current year but did the previous year, you may be able to capitalise on this potentially useful rule.

Gifting to charity could help reduce your Inheritance Tax liability

Whether you gift money during your lifetime, or in your will, gifts you make to charity are exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT).

It’s also possible to use charitable gifts to reduce your overall IHT liability. If you leave 10% of your estate’s taxable wealth to charity, you could effectively reduce the IHT tax charge on your estate from 40% to 36%.

Keep a record of financial gifts

It’s important to keep detailed records of charitable giving. If you’d like help in managing regular or one-off charitable financial gifts, please get in touch.

5. Offer sponsorship

Whether as an individual, small business, or large corporation, you could help your chosen charity by becoming a sponsor.

This could involve supporting fundraisers with charitable financial donations. Alternatively, you might prefer to offer in-kind support by providing free services, products, or prizes for charity auctions or raffles. This could be a luxury hamper, gift card for dinner for two at a prestigious restaurant, or VIP tickets to a sold-out event.

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