Making change without loose change: supporting UK charities during the cost of living crisis
You’ve probably heard the saying “time is money”, and it’s all the more true when it comes to the charity sector. Givto's own Joanna Gresty leads a much-needed discussion about meaningful alternative ways to support UK charities amidst the cost of living crisis, without breaking the bank.
Over the last few weeks, I must have picked up the phone to around 10 different fundraisers and had just as much post from charities I’ve donated to in the past.
“Don’t you have £25 to give a child a proper education, Joanna?”
“Joanna, it costs only £15 to adopt a dolphin. Can we count on you?”
“Joanna, the elephants have had their home destroyed once again. A small donation will help secure their future!”
Let’s be honest, if you and I heeded every charitable call for money that came through our letterbox, we’d both be broke. Research shows over 50% of Britons are in debt, with the average amount reaching £33,410 as of March last year, a £1,767 increase since January 2020.
“Can we count on you, Joanna?”
Right now, probably not!
Fortunately, those of us who are strapped for cash should not feel excluded from supporting the charities we resonate with in meaningful ways. There’s so much we can do to be of service without loosening those fraying purse strings. By volunteering your time, skills, and resources, you can make a significant impact and help bring about very positive change.
I’ve written up four ways we can support charities even amidst the cost of living crisis. Beware: some of them are a lot of fun!
Volunteering your time
An incredibly valuable way to support charities! Myriad charities rely on the dedication of volunteers to carry out their essential work. Here are some contenders for your time:
The Trussell Trust: These guys operate a network of food banks across the country, providing emergency food supplies to individuals and families in need. Volunteer your time to sort and distribute food, or help with administrative tasks if that’s more up your street.
Age UK: One of my personal favourites. A tremendously supportive charity of our elderly neighbours, friends and family – they work to combat that long dark cloud of loneliness by offering advice and providing essential services. You can’t go far wrong visiting the elderly people in your community, engaging in friendly conversations, or assisting with practical tasks. You may even make a new friend!
Crisis: Crisis is a charity dedicated to ending homelessness in the UK. Why not volunteer at their annual ‘Crisis at Christmas’ campaign, where you can help serve meals and offer companionship to individuals who find themselves homeless.
Donate skills and expertise
Sometimes, the most welcome resource is yourself! Consider offering your professional services pro bono to support your favourite charity’s initiatives. Here are a few examples:
Citizens Advice: They provide free, confidential advice to individuals facing various challenges. You could volunteer to become an advisor, helping people navigate legal, financial, or personal issues. Knowledge is power.
Samaritans: The Samaritans offer emotional support to individuals in distress. As a listening volunteer, you would be a pragmatic and sympathetic ear for those in need of someone to talk to. This position is a tough one but extremely rewarding if you’re up to the task.
Givto: I volunteer with the Better Giving Partnership who’ve recently launched their unique charity donation service, Givto, nationwide. It’s a platform that makes it easy for people to give to a different charity each month with one simple Direct Debit – and it’s run entirely by volunteers!
Donate your possessions
Donating goods or services can also be an impactful way to support charities without giving money. Consider the following:
British Heart Foundation: A household name, they fund life-saving research into heart diseases. Donate second-hand clothing, furniture, or household items to their high-street charity shops, where sales help fund their projects.
British Red Cross: The British Red Cross supports people in crisis, both in the UK and internationally. Items like blankets, clothing, or toiletries are still very much welcomed in their charity shops. Welcomed also are people who can participate in their emergency response efforts.
Oxfam: Oxfam works towards alleviating poverty and responding to humanitarian crises globally. Donate books, clothes, or other items to Oxfam’s charity shops, or contribute to fundraising efforts.
Increasing awareness about charitable causes has its own profound impact and will inspire others to get involved as well! Here’s how:
Social media advocacy: Share stories, campaigns, and updates on your social media platforms. Use hashtags and tag the relevant charities to amplify their message and reach a broader audience.
Blogging or vlogging: Start a blog or YouTube channel where you discuss and promote causes that resonate with you. Share success stories, challenges, and ways people can support their chosen charities.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) reported that volunteers contributed approximately 776 million hours of their time in 2019/20, equivalent to around £18.2 billion worth of work. During the COVID pandemic, the Office for National Statistics reported that 37% of adults in the UK spent their time volunteering for the causes they normally wouldn’t have time to support. These hours of manpower, this labour of love, brought about more positive change than you could possibly imagine.
So if, like a lot of people, you’re not feeling very financially secure at the moment, it doesn’t mean you have to sit out on charitable giving. I’d love as much as anyone to be of the means to write a great big cheque to my local animal sanctuary, but I bet bringing down supplies and walking a couple of rescue dogs on the weekends will feel just as meaningful. Every little helps! And, who knows, if I’m ever feeling flush again, I might not just adopt another charity, but maybe a little dachshund as well!