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How to make 2022 the year of good causes

·4-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

Billions of pounds may be given to charity every year – but a constant stream of new causes are emerging that are in desperate need of public support. Although many are small organisations that struggle to attract publicity and funding, their work can be life-changing for people in local communities.

Dom’s Food Mission in Hastings, East Sussex, is a prime example. The charity, set up six years ago by Dom Warren and his wife, Alex, helps feed the less fortunate and reduce food waste. “The idea was to feed children with surplus and donated food,” he says. “I set up a Facebook group explaining what we were doing and people started donating.”

Dom and Alex would then ensure the items reached the schools and other places where food parcels were most needed. Word quickly spread and the project suddenly took off. The mission currently saves the equivalent of 6,000 meals going into the bin every week and has partnerships with household names such as Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, KFC and Greggs.

This food is distributed by Dom’s 20-strong team to schools, refuges, hostels, churches, private drops to families in need and referrals from both the NHS and the police. “We’ve even received national awards and met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge,” said Dom. “It’s been a crazy whirlwind but I love every second of what we do.”

Of course, such important causes are competing for donations against other registered charities, as well as various fundraising through websites such as GoFundMe.

This site, which enables people to raise money for various projects and causes, has so far raised $15bn (£11bn) through more than 200 million donations. They’ve included helping families to rebuild their lives after house fires, helping pay for children’s cancer treatments, and cover the cost of memorials.

More broadly, the amounts donated to charity hit £11.3bn in 2020 – significantly higher than the previous year’s £10.6bn, according to the UK Giving Report from the Charities Aid Foundation.

However, the number of people helping good causes is declining, with 1.6 million fewer people donating last year, according to the UK Giving Report from the Charities Aid Foundation. Neil Heslop, CAF’s chief executive, said: “Although those who give are giving more, we know that for charities to survive and be there for those they help, they rely on mass giving.”

How to help charities

There are plenty of ways to help good causes. For example, you can volunteer or give money. If it’s the latter, and you are a taxpayer, then make sure you donate through Gift Aid. This scheme means charities and community amateur sports clubs can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give – but it won’t cost you more.

You need to make a Gift Aid declaration for the charity to claim. You usually do this by filling in a form. Contact the charity if you have not got one. It’s also worth thinking about charities when you sell shares, according to Emma Watson, head of financial planning & advisory services at Rathbone Investment Management.

“Capital gains tax (CGT) can eat up quite a chunk of any profit you make, but charities do not have to pay this charge,” she says. “Giving shares to charity can be a tax-efficient way to donate.”

Set up your own charity

How about if you have a particular cause that you want to help? One option is setting up your own charitable organisation. However, Emma Watson at Rathbones suggests considering the alternatives before going down this route.

“If you’re keen to give time and money to a particular cause, or group of causes, one option is setting up a charitable trust with a one-off gift and, potentially, further contributions over time,” she said.

Other options include community foundations, which make grants to projects in their local areas, or donor advised funds for philanthropists looking for more control and involvement over gift making.

If you still want to set up a charity, then here are the key steps:

Step one: Be clear in what you want to achieve – and who it is that will benefit. For example, it will need to have clear descriptions of purpose, such as the prevention or relief of poverty. You should also check to see if a similar charity already exists as it’ll probably makes sense to work together.

Step two: Do your research. There are restrictions you’ll need to follow as a charity so make sure these won’t derail your plans. Other important steps will include naming the charity, deciding on its structure, and writing a governing document, which sets out its legal framework.

Step three: Sorting the legalities. For example, you’ll usually need to find at least three trustees to act as guardians of its aims. You must apply to register it with the Charity Commission if its income will be at least £5,000-a-year, or it’s a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO).

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