How to make the most of what you give to charity

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gift of giving

gift of givingChristmas is over, so what are you going to do with your unwanted gifts? If you take the children’s discarded toys to the local charity shop, you can not only clean up the house but also help a good cause. What’s not to like?

The statistics show that we are a generous bunch, willing to dig deep to help others. But when money is tight, it’s important to make the most of any charitable donations.

If you are a UK taxpayer, always tick the Gift Aid box when you give to charity. The charity can then claim an extra 25p from the taxman for every £1 you donate. Higher-rate taxpayers can claim the difference between the basic and higher rates of tax on their donation when they complete their year-end tax return.

Gift Aid is a great way to boost the money you give to charity and it doesn’t cost you a penny, yet the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) estimates that around £750m of Gift Aid goes unclaimed each year.

You don’t have to be wealthy to help a worthwhile cause. The Pennies Foundation allows you to donate your “loose change” when you pay with your card online, or in shops of participating retailers. Find out more at Pennies.org.uk.

If you are shopping online, sign up to a site such as www.givingabit.com or GiveAsYouLive.com. The sites earn commission for directing customers to online retailers to make purchases. The commission is then donated to the charity of your choice.

You can even give while you surf the net by switching your search engine to EveryClick.com, which donates 50% of its advertising revenue to charity.

Finally, why not make a New Year’s resolution to Give As You Earn. Donations are then taken from your pre-tax pay. In other words, a £10 donation will cost a basic rate taxpayer just £8. If you are a higher-rate tax-payer it will only cost you £6, and if you pay tax at 50%, a £10 donation costs just £5.

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