Five alternative ways to give to charity

There's more to charitable giving than just getting your wallet out

Rosie Murray-West – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Rosie Murray-West | Independent Money Mentor

Award-winning personal finance and news journalist


It’s official: donating to charity can be good for you as well as for other people. A whole body of research, including the influential Journal of Economic Psychology, suggests that giving can improve your health and provide a psychological boost. But giving to others can be about more than just money. If you’re strapped for cash, but still want to do your bit, here are five other ways to give to others.

1. Give blood

You probably take them for granted, but the ten pints of the red stuff you have running through your veins could save lives. The Blood Service requires 6,000 donations of blood a day to treat patients in England under normal circumstances, and it is worried about the ageing profile of its donors, half of whom are over 45. Technology makes it easier than ever to check that you’re eligible and to book a donation appointment near home. 


2. Look after a Guide Dog puppy

If you love dogs and have some time on your hands, you could become a puppy walker for a Guide Dog in training. It’s a commitment of just over a year, and you’ll need to work hard to produce a puppy that is socially well behaved, friendly and responsive. In some areas you could also provide bed and breakfast to dogs in training or look after some of the mum and dad dogs that produce the next generation. Find out more information about volunteering for a Guide Dog by visiting the Guide Dog website.


3. Be a GoodGym goer

If getting fit isn’t enough of a higher purpose for you, join a GoodGym to combine your workout with community tasks. They encourage people to run to an older people’s home or community area, meet up with other runners to complete tasks from changing lightbulbs to tidying gardens, and then run back again. Runners are background checked to assure that everyone is safe. 


4. Get the toddlers involved

It’s hard to make a difference when you’ve got young children. Sometimes it feels like a struggle to even get out of the house. But for some people, a visit from your kids could brighten the day, and give you a boost as well. Acorns & Oaks, currently in Bristol, is setting up pop-up playgroups in care homes, so that the residents can spend time with youngsters. The organisation is hoping to expand throughout the UK, or there may be other initiatives in your area. Or offer to set one up yourself –many care homes are happy to host a stay-and-play.


5. Go for Givetech

Technology is part of everyday life, but you could optimise yours to help others too. Join World Community Grid to donate your unused processing power (on computer or mobile phone) to advance scientific research on health, poverty and sustainability. When you shop online, go through sites such as www.giveasyoulive.com or www.thegivingmachine.co.uk to generate a free donation for a chosen charity whenever you shop online.


Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.