Have you ever wondered what happens to your money when you give it to a charity? Lots of people like to contribute some people run for charity, others shake collection tins, send anonymous donations, or take part in sponsored silences and other similar events, but once the event is over, where does the money go?
A lot of the answer depends on how you give money. If you run for charity, collect sponsorship, and give it directly to the charity, then most of the money will be used by the charity to do whatever it is that they do.
However, if you’re stopped on the street, or someone knocks on your door and asks you to sign up to a monthly direct debit, then there’s a good chance that the person you’re talking to is not a volunteer, but a paid employee of a business that collects for more than one charity. In that case, a good chunk of the money that you donate will go to the business, with the charity getting only a small cut.
Many people are disappointed when they hear that a large percentage of their donations will go to a company that aims to make a profit, but the sad fact is that a lot of charities have been forced to use such companies because it’s too difficult, time consuming, or expensive for them to raise money in other ways.
Charities will use whatever method works best for them, so if you want them to avoid third party collection businesses, take the time to find out whether the person you’re talking to is an employee or a volunteer and if you don’t get the answer you want to hear, take some literature from them and contact the charity directly when you get home so that you can donate directly to them. Add a message to the donation, explaining that you don’t like the thought of giving money via a third party that will take a significant cut.
Time vs. Money
It used to be possible to donate time (or skills) to a charity instead of money, but that’s getting harder and harder to do these days. Many charity shops refuse to take clothes unless they’re designer brands, and avoid taking certain electronic items outright for safety concerns. When it comes to donations of time, getting a voluntary position can be almost as hard as getting a real job thanks to legislation and training concerns.
None of the above is the charity’s fault, just a sign of the difficult time they have staying afloat these days.
If you want to help a charity, then the best thing to do is either a direct donation, or a donation via a sponsored event run for charity in your local marathon or half marathon, take part in a well-publicized event such as a 24 hour famine or a sleep rough for a day” challenge ran by the charity in question. Whatever you do, make sure you’re dealing direct with the charity if you want control over how the money is spent.
By James Harper on behalf of The Poppy Run, who organize 5k charity runs in aid of The Poppy Appeal.