Hello everyone! Here at the Financial Wilderness, we’re big fans of what the power of Charity can do. It’s really amazing what people do when giving up their time and resources to achieve real change.
This site is generally about maximising and using your money, but we also believe that there’s a responsibility to make sure you use some it for good if you’re in a position to afford to, rather than Scrooge McDuck style sitting on a large pile of gold!
This year, that goes double. This is a truly unprecedented situation causing real hardship for people and often beyond their control, and it’s causing real economic hardship for many.
If you’d like to make a difference, there’s a few things that you can do:
A reverse foodbank advent calendar:
The idea of a reverse adverse calendar is that you set aside a food item daily that can be donated to a food bank. At the end of the month, you have a full box of 30 items ready to make an donation.
This is an initiative that the UK Money Bloggers community are trying to pick up on in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, the UK’s leading food bank charity.
Let’s quickly clear up a few myths about food banks as they’re not always understood. You can’t just go in and pick things up from a food bank because you don’t want to pay for them. Going is usually as a result of referral by a professional who’s identified hardship, proceeds are going to the really needy.
The approval isn’t indefinite as well – it allows you to get food for a few days. The idea of the food banks is not just to provide food, but also offer access to services that can provide help to get people back on their feet more permanently – mental health support and debt charity links are good example. They’re set up so people don’t keep using them, not getting them in a constant cycle.
There are several ways to make a donation. In my case a local action group are doing collections from outside supermarkets, – as you go in they’re asking for specific products which they most need and then collecting them from you as you leave.
Other supermarkets have buckets just beyond the tills in where you can leave goods for a direct donation.
You can also find a list of your nearest foodbanks on the Trussell Trust’s website to make a donation directly, which is usually the best method!
Give up your time volunteering for a charity
This may be more difficult during the next month or so, but charities don’t just rely on donations – often they need bodies to help keep things moving along.
A lot of organisations have been affected by the fact that it can tend to be retired people who help out, as they can tend to have more time available. Those people are often in a more vulnerable category at the moment and may not be able to provide the help that they normally can, so you could step in here if you’ve got the time!
If you’re found yourself in a position where you’re not working or facing an uncertain position on furlough this can also be a really powerful tool to help with your job hunt – you often end up using and picking up new skills through working with charities than can provide new strings to your bow and you can talk about at interview (plus it shows you’ve been using your time very productively!)
Not only that, the sense of personal reward can be massive.
Some larger companies also offer the chance for you to take a certain number of volunteer hours each year out of the office – it’s worth checking if yours does this as it’s a great way to contribute!
If you’re got a particular skill as well, charities can sometimes find these pockets of expertise incredibly useful, so keep that in mind.
Donate directly to Charity
If you don’t have the time to help out by volunteering, make sure to send some of the cash you’re earning when hustling to the charity instead!
There’s a few tips I throw out on this. Often, we can tend to give around Christmas but forget to be some generous at other times of the year. Spreading out your donations can be really helpful to charity cash flows – although better to give at one time than forgetting about it and not at all!
An easy way to do this is to give consistently. Personally I use the Give as You Earn scheme where salary is deducted from your paycheck and a donation made immediately instead – it just means I’m consistently giving and don’t forget about it. You can read more about the Give as you Earn scheme and how it works in this post.
(P.S As a bonus tip, some employers also will also partially match charity contributions and boost them – worth exploring if yours does!)
There’s also advantages to you in giving – both Give as you Earn and the better known Gift Aid offer tax advantages as well under a Government scheme. You’ll find any income tax which you would usually have paid on that money gets deducted, with the contribution to charity already getting boosted.
If you’re lucky enough to be a higher earner this can really make a difference – as you’ll get the tax relief at the higher rate of tax if your earnings mean you’re beyond paying the basic rate.
Raise money for Charity by being sponsored
If you don’t have money yourself and time is limited, another idea is to really push yourself and do something sponsored – the amount you can raise from this can be really surprising, and you can experience some fantastic personal growth through doing it.
I wasn’t hugely sporty going up, but a couple of years ago signed up to run the Reebok Spartan Race as a personal challenge. I admit I realised it had obstacles but hadn’t entirely appreciated how hardcore it was until I started reading about the fire jump and had a “what have I done” moment…..
However…….I did do it! I had to really push myself to prepare, but got so much out of the experience and ended up raising over £3000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which I couldn’t believe. For myself, I walked away fitter and with that knowledge that you can “just do it!” (Nike people, clearly the power of advertising works, I can’t believe I just wrote that….)
Here’s the proof – and yes, that mud took a long, long time to get off:
A personal note:
If you’d like to give but don’t have a particular personal charity, I’d just like to encourage you to give to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. It’s a disease that makes breathing very difficult as the body goes into mucus production overdrive, and sadly results in a greatly reduced lifespan for sufferers. You can read more about the charity on their website here.
I have a cousin who affected by this and I can attest that the charity has been excellent in supporting her. If you do donate, please let me know via the Contact Us form so I can personally thank you!
We’re also running a GoFundMe as the UK Money Bloggers for the Trussell Trust which is also very much worth giving your support to – just click the link below.