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The importance of vouchers for charities, donors and those they are helping

The importance of vouchers for charities, donors and those they are helping

For the UK’s one million people who fall well below the poverty line and all those just above the cutoff on minimum incomes, vouchers and discounts can be a real lifesaver. The nation has seen an increasing reliance on food banks as the effects of austerity are hitting hard, and over three quarters of the population now uses discount vouchers for purchases as we all seek to keep the cost of living down. Vouchers can be issued in lieu of money, which helps charities ensure that vulnerable people are getting the food and other essential items they need. Food vouchers – often issued by food banks – are most common, but accommodation and clothing are also important items that charity vouchers can be exchanged for.

Research suggests that the general public are far more likely to donate unused vouchers and unwanted items than they are to part with cash. Charities can make the most of this willingness to give by accepting a range of different and deals that they can share directly with service users or use themselves to buy food for those in need. Giving something back to donors in the form of a discount or reward can greatly increase their desire to make a donation, so vouchers can work out well for all parties involved in charitable processes.

Extreme couponers make huge charity donations

Couponing – making voucher collecting a full-time hobby – has become a popular pastime for a lot of people, with a lot . Some very community-minded citizens around the world have been putting this love of coupon hunting to good use. A young woman from Suffolk recently broke the record for largest voucher shop in the country – and she gave the whole lot to charity. Holly Smith collected up to 300 vouchers a day and picked up £1,164.39 in shopping without paying a single penny. She then gave everything to a local charity which helps young homeless people find accommodation and settle in.

Before Holly’s incredible effort, the UK record was held by 16-year- old Jordan Cox who got £572.16 of shopping for just 4p. He also donated all of the shopping to a local charity. Meanwhile over in the United States, 20-year- old Hannah Steinberg has donated over $110,000 to various charities in the past ten years through her own coupon collecting. She also collects donated coupons from other people all over the world, and puts them towards her food donations.

Although people who will go to such extreme lengths are rare, most people will have a few spare coupons around the place. If you have in date vouchers that you won’t use, your local food bank or homeless shelter might be able to make good use of them.

Coupons can encourage more charitable donations

Many online and offline charity fundraisers are finding that vouchers and rewards encourage more donations. Almost everyone wants to do their bit to help out, but money is tight for many people and we are all seeking to cut our spending in the uncertain economic climate. Studies suggest that poorer people are actually more likely to give to charity than those on higher incomes. It helps if there is some little reward or bonus for donating, experts have found. Research by found that just 39% of visiting voucher hunters regularly donate to charity at the moment, but a huge 91% would be “more inclined” to give something if they received a reward themselves.

There are lots of schemes which encourage practical donations in return for discount vouchers. For example, children’s aid service Barnardo’s and catalogue retailer Argos have teamed up to offer shopping vouchers to people who donate unwanted toys. A slightly different approach is that of gift-swap site GiveAGift: a scheme which takes unwanted gift cards as donations, and returns a portion of the balance back to the donor with a different brand’s card as a thank you for the donation. Cancer charity Marie Curie recently ran a book donation program with stationer WH Smiths, and all those who donated books received 25% off their next book purchase at the store.

When it comes to raising funds or donations for charities, offering a voucher as thanks can go a long way to boosting the public’s interest.

Whether you work for a charity, donate to one or accept help from one, vouchers can benefit you. If you want to know more about receiving help or donating in your area, get online and search for information on local charity voucher schemes. There are many ways you could help make a difference to someone’s life through something as simple as a free dinner ticket or a discount on clothing – and you might get a great deal back in return as well.

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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