A 9 Step Guide to Better Giving

So you want to give to charity? Pretty quickly you'll realise it's not that simple. With around 170,000 charities in the UK alone, it’s a challenge to choose where and how to invest your money, time, and attention in order to make the biggest possible difference in the world. Effectiveness lies at the heart of great giving. We’re narrowing all of this down for you, so that you can give the smart way, while supporting your favourite causes. Here is Serendipity's 9-step guide to giving:

1. Pick one or a few causes that matter the most to you

Although there’s a bunch of stuff out there that needs changing, channeling your money and focus to fewer causes make your giving more effective. You care about the planet, but don’t really know how to help. Try asking yourself what it is about the planet you really want to see a change in: Is it finding sustainable solutions? Is it ensuring that endangered species are protected? Or is it developing technologies that will mitigate the effects of likely climate catastrophes?

2. Follow your gut instinct

Allow your inspiration to lead you to the specific causes that make you want to make a change. Think about the kinds of topics that stir you up when you’re reading the news. Try to recall situations that made you think twice about an issue. Allow yourself to feel what makes you the most passionate. What kind of injustice makes you angry? What kinds of poverty make you most upset? Those initial feelings are clues to those causes and charities that you can best support.

3. Choose an approach

As overwhelming as it may feel to face a challenging cause, making a difference doesn’t need to be so complex. Just think about what you can do. Consider all the possibilities, and choose what works best. Head over to a local community centre and offer your help. Give away your old clothes. Get a volunteering job at a local charity shop. Bring surplus food to the nearest food distribution centre. Set up a monthly donation amount to a charity that inspires you. There’s always something you can do, and everything counts. Based on what gives you the best return for your investment either in time, money or otherwise, pick the approach that will suit you as an individual, and the one you know you’ll enjoy most. Don’t let it overwhelm you - keep it simple and follow your heart.

4. Learn more about the causes you’re passionate about

You don’t have to go through an encyclopedia’s worth of information, but it is helpful to know a little bit about who and what you care for. By learning about the specific issues related to your favourite cause, you’ll be better equipped to assess the impact of your donation. This puts you a lot more in control of your giving. So read books. Skim through articles. Follow the news. Listen to podcasts. Watch documentaries. Chat with your friends about it. Ask around. Seek recommendations. Expand your reach. We’ll be sharing lists of great resources to do this in future posts, so stay tuned. 

5. Do a bit of research

You want to know what your money will be used for, but you probably haven't got time to become a full-time charity researcher. There are plenty of ways to learn more about the specific issues related to your cause and how charities are tackling them.  Sites like Charity Commission, GuideStar, Effective Altruism Organizations and Charity Navigator all give you detailed reviews of different charities, their approaches, and their level of impact. It’s not about going all Sherlock Holmes on it either. It’s just a matter of making sure you understand how an issue is being tackled and treated, in order to decide on the most appropriate charity for that issue (i.e. find the charity that will give your donation the most bounce for your ounce. Platforms such as Serendipity aggregate and digest this research for you, saving your time and worries. 

6. Choose an amount to give that suits you

How much one should donate is such a difficult question to answer, as it is relative not only to each person’s salary, but also their spending, saving goals, and interests. Ultimately, you should give as much as you want if you can afford it. To help you estimate how much could this be, we’ve come up with our very own giving calculator, which you can find here. You will be able to estimate a good monthly giving amount based on what your peers are donating, your income, or what you spend in your day to day. We hope it will help you gauge how much money you could most optimally and realistically give to charities.

7. Remember the tax benefits

In the UK, donating to a charity offers tax relief. This government scheme is called Gift Aid and means that charities can claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give. Watch out for platforms that will not offer you to GiftAid on your donations (hint: that means it’s not a donation). On Serendipity, donations made by UK taxpayers are 100% Gift Aid eligible for donation. Best thing of all - you only need to confirm your eligibility once, and from there on a bonus 25p will be added to your account, forever. No need to fill a new form every time to set up a donation.

8. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon

When donating through social platforms such as Facebook, it’s easy to fall into the trap of donating to more popular and mainstream charities whilst there are many others out there that work just as hard at generating the same degree of relative impact. Big-name charities are known for their expansive work and ability to change millions of lives, but that doesn’t mean smaller charities working on more niche subjects are any less impactful. They often can do things that bigger charities cannot. Give them a chance by supporting their unique and often more cost-savvy approaches to delivering aid, support and wellbeing to local communities. On Serendipity, you’ll see how we screen and select a bunch of smaller charities that are doing an amazing job in their local communities. All set for you to pick.

9. Engage

Just like becoming informed about the cause you care about and the charities you support, staying informed is equally important. Learn what’s been done with your effort, time and money. Our interconnected world makes it so easy to keep up with the latest news, so take advantage of it! Subscribe to newsletters, follow your charity’s social media accounts, and see how your donation is helping people and the world. By keeping up with what’s new and engaging with the cause, you get closer to the lives you are changing. What’s more rewarding than that?

And that’s it! We hope this will help you in your journey of giving. If you’re looking for a platform that will make this the easiest for you and help you manage all your donations from one single app, check out the Serendipity app, available for iOS and Android. We are a tech-for-good charity giving platform that wants to make giving as easy and meaningful as it could be and help you keep track of your impact.