Donating to charity? Make sure your money is being well spent

Almost two-thirds of people did not donate to charity last year, with half of them saying this was because they had no trust in charities, according to new research.

A survey of more than 2,300 UK adults by the discount website VoucherCodesPro.co.uk found that 62 per cent of respondents did not give to good causes in 2015.

When asked why, 51 per cent said it was because they did not trust any charities, 33 per cent said they could not afford to donate money and 24 per cent said they did not know which charity would achieve the greatest impact.

Much of the distrust stems from scandals such as the collapse of Kids Company last summer. Just this week MPs have described the trustees of Kids Company as “negligent” as they outlined an “extraordinary catalogue of failures” leading to the charity’s collapse.

But smaller charities are now urging donors to not tar them with the same brush as the much larger and more well-known causes.

Responding to another report that found some of the country’s biggest charities spend less than half of their income on good causes, Gina Miller, founder of the True and Fair Foundation said: “It is an utter disgrace that so much of the money people generously give is going to feed large charity machines, which are often characterised by obscene overheads and salaries, aggressive fundraising, and bloated marketing and publicity departments; resulting in questionable levels of charitable spending.”

Felicity Christensen from the Small Charities Coalition said that due to their size small charities are “adaptable enough that they can be reactive to the needs of their beneficiaries”, and that with “less red tape to get through, change can be quickly implemented.”

She added: “A little can go a very long way for small charities, as overheads are generally much lower than in larger charities, so a high percentage of the cash you donate will be going directly to the cause you care about.”

Before giving to any charity, people should always check their status on the Charity Commission website which also allows a potential donor to see their financial history and in most cases their accounts (although the smallest charities do not have to post their accounts).

The Charities Commission website lets you search for charities and view a breakdown of income and expenditure. The key figure – the one that’s sparking controversy – is under the heading “charitable spending”.

At face value, this shows how much of the charity’s income goes directly towards helping beneficiaries.

At Nicklin we know that headlines can have a big impact on charities and that the antics of bigger charities often have a ripple effect. We are here to support charities in their efforts and have considerable experience in the sector. For detail about the ways we can help, please contact us.