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5 key ways people can give for free

A stash of coins. By Kelvin Stuttard on Pixabay

There are lots of ways people can support charities at little or no cost to themselves, and that can provide a useful source of income for good causes. These range from shopping through affiliate sites that convert the commissions these sites earn into donations, to loyalty point donations, and search engines and browser extensions that raise donations or plant trees when people perform a search through them. Here are 5 key ways with some examples of each.

Loyalty point donations

nectar donate ad

Nectar Donate

Through Nectar Donate, people can donate Nectar points to support local and national charities. Nectar has teamed up with Crowdfunder to do this. Customers need to create a Crowdfunder account and link their Nectar account to donate their points to fundraising projects, and must be logged-in to this account when donating. Points can be donated in increments of 200, with a minimum of 200 and a maximum of 1 million per donation. 200 points is equivalent to at least £1 to the chosen charity, and 100% of the donation goes to the chosen fundraising project.

Nectar expanded its donate function to all UK charities in January 2022.

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M&S Sparks

Every time someone shops with Sparks, whether in-store, online, or on the M&S app, M&S donates to their chosen charity. So far this has raised over £10 million for good causes. Customers can update their chosen charity at any time in their Sparks account, or elect to ‘support all charities’.

American Express

American Express lets customers use their Membership Rewards® points to donate to more than 9,000 UK charities when making a donation via JustGiving. To do this, they have to search for a charity or fundraising page on JustGiving.com and click Donate. Once they have entered your payment details they can choose to pay, or part-pay, with their points. Customers must use a minimum of 200 points each time and there is no maximum limit. 1,000 Membership Rewards points is currently equal to £4.50 spend.

Perkbox

Corporate perk providers also sometimes enable employees to donate their points or perks. Perkbox for example is a benefits and rewards platform that companies use to reward their employees through a variety of perks and benefits including offers on food and drink, electronics, and entertainment. Last year also saw it give employees the option of donating their Flexi points to UNICEF’s Help Protect Children in Ukraine’ fund, with Perkbox donating the relevant amount in cash to the charity. Between March-May, they raised over £8,000.


Search / browser-based donations

Give with Bing & Microsoft Rewards

People who join Microsoft Rewards earn points when they use Bing, and can redeem them for free gift cards, games, and more for themselves, or donate them to a nonprofit, with more than 1.4 million national and local nonprofits to choose from. Give with Bing and Microsoft Rewards members have donated $13 million and counting so far.

Ark2030 Rewards

Ark2030 Rewards can be added as a browser extension, and supports ecosystem restoration projects when people shop at 30,000+ online stores. Not only do users get discounts when they shop at these stores, but they also earn points that they can donate to the project of their choice. Those on offer include regreening degraded landscapes, the great rivers clean up, and the restoration of global whale populations.

Ecosia

Ecosia is a German-based Internet search engine that uses 80% of its profits from advertising revenue to reforestation and conservationism projects. Over the past year for example, University of Sussex students have carried out more than 600,000 searches using the site which has led to the planting of more than 8,000 trees and the removal of 500 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. People can add it to Chrome for free.

Tab for a Cause

Tab for a Cause enables people to raise money for charity every time they open a new browser tab. Over 200,000 people are using it through Chrome, according to the site, and so far it’s raised more than $1.5mn for charity. People can choose where the money goes – such as to feed children, plant trees or preserve oceans.


Affiliate sites

The Giving Machine – Shop&Give

Shop&Give raises funds by converting sales commissions into free donations for shoppers’ chosen causes. Charities can register for free. They also get free materials to help them promote the service to supporters, and a dedicated page where they can see their earnings. The Giving Machine has raised over £2.1mn so far, supporting just over 10,000 good causes.

easyfundraising

easyfundraising partners with over 7,000 brands who pay it a commission when people start their shop with them through its website or app. Easyfundraising then turns this commission into a donation. People can also track their donations, and almost £46mn has been raised for good causes so far. Charities can register on the site, and it’s free to use.

Give as you Live

Give as you Live has raised over £24.6mn for charities so far. It generates donations from people shopping online with over 6,000 stores to choose from, turning commissions into donations for shoppers’ chosen causes with no joining or payment fees for charities.

Sarah Gooding, Member Marketing Manager says:

“Charities receive 100% of the funds raised by their supporters with no payment processing fees – it’s completely free! On average, a supporter who signs up and shops regularly for things like their groceries can expect to earn around £35 a year for their charity, but this can be increased with purchases that raise large donations such as holidays, insurance and utility switches. There’s no limit to the amount a supporter can raise or the number of supporters a charity can have. Charities can also raise themselves on office supplies and more.”

Savoo

Savoo lets people save money at thousands of retailers with Savoo’s voucher codes and deals. Every time someone uses a deal, they donate to charity for free through the affiliate commissions earned, with over 400 charities to choose from. Shoppers can also use its Bing-powered search engine for all of their online searches – every search made will raise a penny for their chosen charity.

More on affiliate programmes here.


Charity debit cards

Currensea

Charities can launch debit cards in partnership with Currensea that enable users to make charitable donations each time they spend at home or abroad. Currensea cards link to existing bank accounts and donations can be made by rounding up spending. As a travel debit card, Currensea also lets users save at least 85% – and up to 100% – on every transaction abroad by removing the normal fees leveraged by banks and other card providers, and charity supporters can donate some or all of these savings. Currensea cardholders (with cards that aren’t through a specific charity) can also automatically contribute a percentage of their savings to an environmental organisation every time they spend with their card.

Rory Maclean, Charity Partnerships Lead at Currensea says:

“Users use their ‘Powered By’ card as they would a normal debit card and Currensea does the hard work behind the scenes. It is also much easier for the charity itself, as there is no need for the charity to integrate with external software or platforms, and they simply receive the donations from us when ready.”

HealRWorld debit card

Last autumn social impact fintech HealRWorld unveiled a corporate debit card that rewards sustainable businesses, promoting their commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) to prospective customers. Among its features, it also lets holders monitor their spending and carbon footprint, and give back by contributing towards planting a tree with each purchase.

More on this here.

More on charity debit cards: gohenry – another debit card that gives


Nominations for donations

Ecclesiastical Movement for Good

Movement for Good Awards

People can nominate a good cause to receive £1,000 as part of Benefact Group’s Movement for Good Awards. Now in its fifth year, the awards will once again see more than £1million gifted to charities up and down the UK and Ireland. Since the awards began, people have submitted 1.75million nominations and more than 2,000 charities have benefited from donations, with over £4million donated since the initiative started. People can nominate a charity online. Winners will be drawn at random and the more times a charity is nominated the more chance it has of being selected. 150 winning charities will be announced from 1 June, with a further 150 revealed in September. Further gifts will be awarded throughout the year.

Tesco Community Grants

Another example, Tesco Community Grants welcomes nominations from Tesco customers and colleagues for local schools or projects to receive a grant. People can vote in-store for shortlisted projects.

Christmas giveaways

Christmas can be a good time for nominations for donations. Last year for example saw The Liberty shopping centre in Romford run a Christmas Wishes Competition with a prize of £250 for the winner towards their Christmas shopping, along with another £250 for the charity of their choice.

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