Having the motivation to support a charitable cause is fantastic. The next step is putting all that positive energy into action, but where should you start? As you may have seen from your Facebook feed, there are a hundred and one different answers to the question:
“What can I do to raise money for charity?”
From tipping a bucket of iced water over your head and plunging from a crane as part of a sponsored bungee jump to getting sweaty in your local charity run and setting up a cupcake stall at a village fête, there are as many charitable money-raising techniques as there are charities to donate to, so where should you start?
In this blog post we’ll be sharing lots and lots of different fundraising ideas and charitable actions you can do yourself. From great big gestures to small but invaluably helpful acts, we’ve compiled a big, bumper list of ways to save money for charity, whether you have lots of time and money of your own to invest, or want to help but need a shoestring solution.
We’re always excited to hear new ideas too, so if you’ve come up with an even better answer to the question: “How can I save money for charity?”, we’d love to hear from you.
Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and get fundraising!
Cheap Fundraising Ideas
Fundraising is all about making a noise and doing something which people can get excited about. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve forked out lots of money to swim the English Channel in order to raise sponsorship donations or have just enough to make a few brownies for a cake sale – if you can capture people’s attention and imagination with your fundraising activities, you’re onto a winner!
Whatever you decide to try, one of the very best things you can do is get online to promote your fundraising mission. You’ll no doubt have seen plenty of charity fundraising activities going on with your Facebook friends. That’s because social media really is a great place to get started, whatever approach you decide to take. Setting up a website or a charity page is free and easy, while shouting about your fundraising on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram takes mere seconds – yet can attract the interest of thousands of people.
So how can you save money for charity when you don’t have many resources to draw on? That’s what this section is all about…
1. Ask for donations
It might sound ridiculously simple, but asking for donations is one of the most basic and effective ways to raise money for charity. You may not get as much attention as you might if you undertook a sponsored activity, but the direct approach can be effective, especially if you’re passionate about the cause you’re fundraising for. It’s also low cost. If you don’t have much money to put into a more ‘showstopping’ fundraising technique, this approach will cost you nothing but your valuable time.
If you want to raise as much money as possible for your chosen cause, asking for donations is rarely as simple as asking. There is a ‘right’ way to ask and there are also lots of different people you can approach through a range of different mediums to help you earn more for your charity.
How to ask the ‘right way’
Asking for money can be difficult, especially if you’ve never done it before. Whether you’re asking friends, colleagues or total strangers, asking others to cough up their hard-earned cash is always going to be intimidating. However, there are a few things you can do to make it easier and increase your chances of success…
- Expect a “yes”
…but accept there will be plenty of “no”s. A positive attitude can make all the difference when you’re asking for donations. If you believe the people you ask will all say no, your pessimism will be reflected in your approach. A positive attitude and expecting the best will make you much trickier to say no to. The “no”s will happen, but accept them and don’t let them affect your positivity.
- Be concrete
If you can tell someone exactly what their donation will do and how it will help, they are more likely to donate. This doesn’t just help build trust in your cause, it also shows the people you ask precisely what their generosity will achieve.
- Be personal
If you’re approaching people you know, don’t be a cold-caller. Spend some quality time with them and have a conversation before you ask for a This will help to reaffirm your connection before you ask for a favour. Transition into your request carefully, but don’t try to be sneaky as this can make you seem insincere. A simple “I’ve been working hard to raise money for a cause and I was hoping you could help” can be effective.
- Use the right words
“Small donation”, “Instant effect”, “Immediate reward”, “Expert”, “You”, “Because”. These words and phrases can help make your request all the more persuasive. For example: “With just a small donation you can instantly help fund expert research into X. This research is so important because…”
Where to ask
If you’ve exhausted your friends, family, colleagues and the public out on the street, there are a few other places you could try to ask for donations:
- Social media
Using social media is a great way to spread the word about a charity. Use all of your profiles and encourage your friends and family to share your message. Use a heartfelt story, an engaging image and clear links to places people can donate to get the best effect.
This can be a difficult approach as people are often suspicious of emails which ask for money. However, if you research your recipients carefully and put together a persuasive email full of information which proves your authenticity, an email campaign can reap some returns.
- Local businesses
Approaching local businesses is a great way to solicit donations, especially if you can offer them a little good publicity in return. Start by using sites like LinkedIn to connect with local businesses in your area, then contact their business manager or corporate social responsibility (CSR) executive. Often businesses are more comfortable giving tangible items like raffle prizes or a service like free printing instead of cash, so keep an open mind and think carefully about how you can help them in return.
2. Raise money from your hobbies
Not everyone is comfortable asking for donations directly; if this is you, taking a softer approach can often help you raise more money. If you’re looking for a low-cost way to save money for charity which isn’t as intrusive as a direct approach, it might be time to turn your unique talents to raising money for charity. Here are a few ways you can use your hobbies to raise money for charity:
Get your Great British Bake Off hat on and cook up a storm to support your cause. Whether you sell your tasty treats at local fairs, fêtes or markets, go door-to-door around your neighbourhood, set up an honesty box at work or do a sponsored bake, there are lots of ways to turn delicacies into donations!
Whether you’ve got a killer set of pipes or can play the sax like a jazz legend, use your musical streak to raise money by busking (make a sign to tell people about the cause you’re raising money for – and check with your local council for the latest guidance) or by organising a charity gig.
From making jewellery to upcycling furniture, if you have a crafty side, embrace it and use it to raise money for your charity. Offer your services in return for donations, offer classes in jewellery-making or crochet to raise money or set up a stall full of your handmade wares.
3. Fundraise at work
Two heads are better than one, especially when you’re fundraising, and when you have all of your colleagues on board, you could make an even bigger impact! Whether you’re bringing treats into the office to help raise money or you get all of your co-workers involved in a big fundraising mission, your workplace is a great place to raise money for charity. Why not…
- Do a sponsored walk to work
The office is an excellent place to raise money for charity through sponsorship. From water-cooler gossip to workplace chats, word has a habit of getting around, and everybody likes to join in with the latest fun thing – especially if it’s a distraction from the daily grind!Why not get some exercise and raise some money for charity by getting sponsored to walk to work for a week? You could even get your colleagues involved and get everyone to walk to work to support your cause. The sponsorship from their fundraising will help you to earn even more for your charity.
- Set up a swear jar
Are you the office potty mouth? Perhaps your boss is prone to effing and blinding? It sounds like it might be time to set up an office swear jar – all for a good cause! Set up a jar in a prominent workplace location and make sure your co-workers donate a set amount every time they say something blue. You’ll be surprised how quickly the donations add up!
- Have a “Dress Down” day
Everyone likes an excuse to get out of their 9-to-5 work attire. Why not hold a workplace dress down day and ask everyone to contribute a set fee to wear what they like to work?If your colleagues are up for something a little more fun, you could set a theme for the day, from a come-to-work-in-your-pyjamas day to a dress-up-as-your-favourite-animal event. At lunchtime, take your colleagues on a fundraising drive around other local workplaces with charity buckets to help raise a little extra for your cause. You’re sure to brighten up someone’s day!
- Arrange a sponsored silence
Do you have a real chatterbox in your workplace? Perhaps you’re the talkative one! Setting up a sponsored silence for the office’s most vocal team member can raise a lot more money than you might expect! To raise a little more, open the silence up to everyone in the office and communicate purely by email and notes for a whole day. Encourage all participants to ask friends and family members to sponsor their silence to raise a bit extra.
- Hold a cake sale
Every workplace loves snack time, particularly when there are home-baked treats on the menu. Use your baking skills to raise money for charity by setting up a cake sale in your place of work. You could encourage even more participation and donations by holding a Great Office Bake Off event, with judging by your resident sweet tooth! If there are too many treats for your team, take your goodies around to other local spots to raise even more money.
- Have a charity tea round
Nobody likes doing the tea round at work. From forgetting how many sugars your boss likes to never having enough water in the kettle, the whole task is a real frustration – plus there’s always a tea-drinking team member who always escapes their tea duty!To help avoid workplace tea politics and raise money for charity at the same time, arrange a charity tea round. You can do it once a week or as a one-off, but making tea for a small donation each time is a fun way to save a little money for charity.
- Raffle a day’s holiday
Time to sweet-talk your boss. Can they afford to offer one day’s holiday to help raise money for charity? If you work as part as a large organisation, this is a fantastic way to get your colleagues interested in donating to your cause. Each team member can buy as many raffle tickets as they like and enter the draw to win a whole day’s extra holiday. With a prize like that on the table, who wouldn’t want to participate?
4. Make and sell
Are you feeling crafty? Whether you’re fantastic at making and doing, or not very good with your hands, there are lots of fun items you can make for next to nothing which you can sell to raise money for charity. Whether you sell your creations at work, at local fairs, at markets or door-to-door, we’ve collected a few fun projects you can try on a shoestring.
Why not get friends and family involved too? The more hands you have on deck, the more great products you’ll have to sell for your favourite cause.
- Beauty products
Home made, natural beauty products make really tempting treats, and there are loads of recipes you can find online which use accessible and affordable homemade ingredients. Start saving up jam jars and ask your friends, family and colleagues to do the same. Once you’ve collected enough you can sterilise them with boiling water and fill them with lovely home made beauty products like:
- Cake & brownie mixes
If you’d rather not fill your carefully collected jars with cosmetics then pre-measured cake, biscuit and brownie mixes make really attractive gifts which lots of people will be eager to buy – and you’ll only need a few ingredients to make them. Accessorise your creations with pretty labels and ribbons to make them all the more tempting, and choose a simple all-in-one recipe which buyers can easily add simple ingredients to to create an easy-peasy treat for themselves! Don’t forget to include instructions so your customers know how to make your yummy concoction.
- Oils, vinegars, chutneys & jams
Who could say no to a delicious flavoured olive oil or homemade jam? Whether you have an apple tree in your garden or your neighbour has a glut of redcurrants on their allotment, use any surpluses as an opportunity to create a treat you can sell for charity. If you don’t have any spare ingredients to hand, infused oils and vinegars are brilliantly easy to make, whether you concoct a zingy chilli oil or a yummy herby vinegar.
If you want to invest a little money in order to generate an even bigger return for charity, making and selling calendars (particularly cheeky ones!) is a tried and tested idea. The more people you get involved in your project, the more you’ll be able to raise through their friends and family. Don’t worry about financing a professional photographer, there’s almost always someone in your social circle who’s a keen amateur.Once all of your models have been snapped for their month, try sites like Photobox or approach local printers who may be able to give you a discount, to get the finished product printed. If you’re short on cash for printing, why not contact local businesses and swap sponsorship for the money to finish the job? Let them print their logo on your calendar (which is fantastic publicity) and start selling your creations to benefit your chosen charity.
A packet of seeds costs just a few pence, but could help you grow dozens of plants you can sell on to benefit your charity of choice. It’s likely that you and your friends and family will already have a few unused plant pots lying around the place, so ask around, then fill them with compost and plant your seeds! You could even decorate the pots if you have a little extra time. Once your plants have grown, hold a sale outside your house, at work, door-to-door or at a local fair or market.
5. Host events
Everyone likes getting involved in a good cause, especially when that also means having some fun! There are lots of different events you can set up to help you save money for charity, from the sedate to the risqué! Decide which kind of event will attract the most attention and participation from people you know and those in the local area and get planning! Why not try organising…
- An auction of promises
Sell tickets at a rate which will cover simple food and drink for the evening and ask your attendees to come with a prepared skill or service they’re willing to auction-off for charity. From gardening, accountancy and aromatherapy to personal butlers and dog walkers, everyone has a skill they can bring to the table, making this a really fun way to fundraise. The money raised from the auction will go to your charity.
- A raffle
Raffles are a really easy way for you to save money for charity. Ask local businesses to donate prizes, then sell as many tickets as possible. The winners walk away with prizes and your cause earns a decent donation.
- Come Dine With Me
If you’re a fan of cookery shows, this is a great way to get people together for a good cause. Sell tickets to a Come Dine With Me-style dinner at your house and lay on a special spread for your guests. If your attendees are especially keen, you can go all the way: dine at each guest’s home and set up a ranking system so you can crown a winner.
- Office Olympics
The 100 metre coffee run, the pencil toss, the paper aeroplane throw: there are dozens of office-based games you and your colleagues can participate in to raise money for charity. Ask for a £2 donation for every event your co-workers participate in and award homemade rosettes or medals to the victors.
- A Zumbathon
Like getting hot and sweaty? Zumbathons are super fun and great for getting lots of people involved in good causes. Book a local hall and invite a Zumba instructor (or fit friend) to run an extra-long class to really test your attendee’s stamina! Make sure everyone taking part is given sponsorship forms well in advance to ensure you collect as many donations as possible for charity.
- A quiz night
Who doesn’t like pitting their knowledge against the people they know? Quiz nights are really enjoyable to plan and a great way to raise money. Charge enough money for tickets to cover a little food and a drink and leave some extra for the charity of your choice – you can also make extra money on the bar.
- A car wash
In good weather a car wash is a fun way to raise some cash. Whether you go door-to-door or offer your soapy services in a local car park (don’t forget to ask permission from the proprietor!), lots of cars can do with a good scrub, making this an easy way to earn for your cause. To make extra money, why not dress up before you start the scrubbing – you’re sure to put a smile on people’s faces and win some positive attention for your charity.
How to Give to Charity for Free
If you’re short on cash but still want to help make a difference, there are lots and lots of different ways for you to make a positive impact.
Perhaps your friends and family can’t face another charity quiz night and your neighbours have already bought several crafty projects to support your good cause. If you’ve exhausted your financial resources and your acquaintances’ generosity, it might be time to pursue a different charitable route.
Your time is one of the most valuable things you can donate. Whether you have a special skill or a few hours free a week, there are charities and causes which can make very good use of your time. In this section we’ll be taking a closer look at the wide range of volunteering and ‘money-free’ giving opportunities you can pursue.
Donating goods is another great way to give to a charity without spending any money. Giving your home a good old decluttering will turn up all sorts of stuff you can donate to charity shops or other places. If you’re feeling brave, blood, bone marrow and plasma are always in demand and can be life-saving. Meanwhile, working to heighten awareness of an issue, cause or organisation will also do lots of good.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of the best money-free charity donations you can give…
We’re willing to bet there are more places where you can volunteer with a charity than you’ve had hot dinners. Giving your time to an organisation or cause doesn’t just give the charity an extra pair of hands to work with – it can also save them valuable time and money.
But with so many diverse opportunities to volunteer your time, how can you choose your ideal arrangement, harness your strengths and work with a charity which really means something to you? Here are a few types of volunteering you may want to investigate more closely…
- Traditional volunteering
This is the type of volunteering most of us think of when we consider signing up to help with a good cause. The tasks you undertake and the roles you perform will vary widely depending on the charity, but ultimately it is your time and hard work you will be donating, which can have a hugely positive effect on the people you help. Take on a traditional volunteering role and you could find yourself:
- Working in a charity shop
- Supporting older people with home visits
- Supporting youngsters at a youth club
- Offering assistance to disabled people
- Getting involved in projects (renovations, building etc.)
- Helping in a hospital
- Acting as a driver
- Running a support phone line
This form of volunteering often works best when you are able to commit to a concrete schedule over the long term, helping the organisation you’re working with to get organised and depend upon you.
If you have three or more hours spare a week and can sign up for at least three to six months, you can be of great help to a huge number of people. This type of volunteering really is an invaluable donation to the cause you support.
- Volunteering from home
If you have less time on your hands, have a busy family life to work around or have difficulties with transportation, there are now lots of ways you can volunteer your time to charities from home. This form of volunteering is easy to slot into your lifestyle, making it ideal for busy parents and professionals too.Whether you’re stuffing and addressing envelopes to help raise awareness, putting together donations in baskets for delivery to those in need, writing bids for funding, researching policies, designing graphics or supporting an online marketing team, there are dozens of home-based things you can to do give your time to a good cause – particularly if you have a helpful skill you can bring to the table.Get in touch with your charities of choice today to find out whether you can assist them from home.
- Volunteering online
Sometimes referred to as microvolunteering, this is a relatively new way of donating your time to a charity on a more casual basis, particularly using the internet.When you microvolunteer you take responsibility for a small task. Meanwhile, hundreds (or even thousands) of other microvolunteers are doing the same thing, making short work of projects like transcribing historical records, contributing to psychological studies, helping homeless people find housing and much, much more.Whether you have five minutes or a couple of hours to spare, you’ll find a microvolunteering opportunity online that’s perfect for you and great for a positive cause.
- Volunteering abroad
Would you like to experience the thrill of travelling overseas and experiencing other cultures while also doing some good? Perhaps you feel particularly drawn to an international cause and want to help out somewhere specific. Volunteering overseas could be the right choice for you.A significant commitment in terms of time (and money – most trips will need to be self-funded), adventurous sorts frequently use gap years and sabbaticals to contribute to international causes.There are a huge number of programmes out there to facilitate this, but it’s well worthwhile doing thorough research into any opportunities which catch your eye as many will not be for reputable charities and could leave you out of pocket, having done little good for the region or cause you’ve chosen.From building schools and teaching English to working to protect endangered species and deliver food, medicine and clean water to those in need, there are all sorts of volunteering roles you can take on all over the world. If you have a specialised skill – perhaps you are a psychologist, teacher or a nurse – you’ll find many charitable applications for your talent right around the globe.
- Non-cash charity donations
Is your home crammed with clutter and odds and ends? Getting these bits and pieces tidied up, parcelled up and sent to your local charity is a great way to combine a spring clean with a non-cash charitable donation. You can send your items wholesale to your local charity shop, pick out unused toys for local children’s charities, or sell items yourself via eBay to raise some cash for your favourite cause.If you’re fortunate enough to own an allotment or a flourishing vegetable patch, fresh fruit and vegetables make great donations to local residential charities, plus those offering meals on wheels or grocery shopping to individuals with mobility issues. You could even make food yourself and deliver it to those in need.
2. Blood and organ donations
If you’re not frightened of needles, donating your blood, plasma and bone marrow are all incredibly generous things to do. Your donation will not cost you a penny but could go on to save a life.
While blood and plasma donation are relatively pain-free and straightforward, donating bone marrow is a much more painful and long-winded process. It’s extremely rare that you’ll be found to be a match for bone marrow donation, but if you are, it’s likely you’ll be one of very, very few people who can help a particular person in need.
Registering as a bone marrow donor is simple. When (and if) you attend a blood donation session, your nurse will ask you to fill out a form and extract a very small amount of extra blood. This extra blood will be analysed and kept on file, only ever receiving an alert in the unlikely event that a matching patient in need comes to light.
Blood and plasma donation are much simpler and faster, although blood donation is a much more common process. You can register to donate both blood and plasma with the NHS by following the link. Don’t forget to nab your free biscuit on your way out!
Another type of donation you may want to consider is organ donation. It’s not always the most comfortable topic to consider, but donating organs is one of the greatest gifts you can give individuals and families in need. Register as an organ donor today to ensure that, should the worst happen, your body will leave a positive legacy.
3. Donate a percentage of your purchases
This is a nice easy way to donate money without lifting a finger or spending a penny. If you’re an avid shopper, there are now lots of helpful applications and services you can use to make your purchases just a little more charitable. Here are a few options you might like to consider:
- Browse for a Cause
Just like CauseCart, the Browse for a Cause extension is all about taking a percentage of what you’d be spending anyway from each online purchase with a major web retailer and using it for charitable causes. The key difference? This tool lets you pick your charity.
- Register with a cashback site
If you’re not already using cashback sites like TopCashBack and Quidco, you’re missing out on some very decent savings when you make online purchases. Instead of keeping the savings yourself, why not save up these extra windfalls and donate them to your chosen charity? Sign up with your chosen cashback site and, every time you make an online purchase, make sure you do it through their platform. Over time you’ll save money for charity on your online shopping. Easy-peasy!
4. Help vulnerable people
They say charity begins at home, and indeed there are lots of different ways you can make a difference in your community and beyond – without needing to go through a specific charity.
From stopping to talk to local people in need to discover practical ways you can help them to taking reheatable meals and providing company to older people in your neighbourhood, helping vulnerable individuals in your area is a great way to do something charitable which needn’t cost you a penny.
If you’d rather offer help through an official organisation, there are lots of charities with volunteering opportunities which can hep you get involved in supporting the vulnerable in your community. Why not…
- Help the elderly
Loneliness is one of the biggest issues for older people in Britain. Often isolated due to mobility issues and living away from family, many older people are desperately in need of company to improve their quality of life. In fact, studies frequently show that loneliness can have serious health consequences for older people, leading to depression, malnutrition and other health issues.From getting to know your neighbours and chatting to older people in your community in passing to volunteering with your local care home or getting in touch with charities like Age UK, Contact the Elderly, Friends of the Elderly, Independent Age and the Royal Voluntary Service, there are lots of great ways to spend your time charitably, helping older individuals.
- Help individuals with disabilities
From depression to MS, there are millions of individuals in the UK suffering from health, mobility and communications issues which can make life harder. Talking to and building positive relationships with individuals in your community is a great way to start providing help and support.Educating yourself about and understanding the struggles of people with disabilities is a good step towards offering your support. There are lots of very small ways in which you can become more informed about the issues surrounding disability and to show your solidarity with the struggles of differently able individuals.
From learning the correct terminology to describe disability to ensuring you always communicate directly with the individual you are addressing – not their interpreter or carer, and always gaining permission to provide assistance before doing so, there is a wealth of small ways you can contribute to improving the lives of people with a disability.
There are also many charities who welcome volunteers to help support their members’ needs. Whether you record audiobooks to give those with vision issues access to literature and information, offer transportation and driving assistance, give your support as a gig buddy for music lovers with learning disabilities, or find one of hundreds of alternative ways to offer assistance, you’ll be giving your time to help make the lives of others a little better.
A few very varied charities you could consider volunteering with include (but are by no means limited to):
- Raise awareness about a charity
It’s not just money or immediate support which charities need – getting the word out there about a cause is just as important as offering cash or hands-on help. If you’re short of funds and don’t have time to volunteer directly, helping to raise awareness about an organisation or charity is an incredibly valuable thing to do. Spreading the word is that charity’s pathway to more donations, more volunteers and greater awareness of their key issues and messages.Whether you’re fighting to gain recognition for a social cause you care about, or getting the word out there about a better-known charity’s latest fundraising venture, this is an easy way to donate your time and energy to something good. The beauty of contributing in this way is that you can do as little or as much as you have the budget or time for. You could retweet and share messages on social media, create viral videos which show your support, wear a t-shirt to work, hand out flyers or leaflets or simply take the time to tell people you meet about the cause you’re working to promote.If you’re keen to give your cause a voice in your area, there are lots of ways to start getting attention. If you are speaking for an existing cause or charity though, make sure you do your homework, know your stuff, stick to the party line and always contact the charity before arranging any awareness-boosting events of your own. ‘Going solo’ could misrepresent your cause, confuse people or even land you in hot water.Once you know all your facts and have permission to go ahead (if necessary), why not try…
- Putting up posters (always ask permission from the council or property owners)
- Hosting an educational event or talk on the subject
- Arranging a flash mob (always get permission first)
- Writing to your local newspapers and publications
- Setting up a website
- Setting up a stall at local events
As you can see, there are hundreds of ways you can raise and save money for charity. If you’re still wondering: “How can I save money for a charity?” at the end of this guide, we’d strongly recommend going back to the beginning and reading through our ideas again!
Part of the beauty of volunteering is that there really is a way for almost everybody to chip in. Whether you have an hour a month for a little microvolunteering online, or have hours each week which you can spend helping to support vulnerable people in your local area, there is a style of charitable giving which will fit into your lifestyle and cater to both your personal resources and your unique skills.
Are you a people person? Why not volunteer one-on-one or fundraise by talking to people directly in the street? Are you a creative person? Why not arrange an unusual fundraising event which inspires people to donate and gets lots of press attention for your chosen cause? Perhaps you are short on time and prefer to do things individually, from giving blood to setting up a website to promote your cause – there are dozens of useful ways you can help charities – all you need is a little time and a little imagination.
We hope this guide has inspired you to get active and help out however you can. Good luck with your next activity! Do you have any great ideas or ways to support a charitable cause which we haven’t included in our guide? Tell our readers all about them below.
Generic advice is not a service regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority thus does not require authorisation.