How to spend on charity this Christmas

Welcome to the Good Christmas on Pocket-lint. The first and most obvious way to feel good about yourself this year is to make sure that you’re giving to those that really need, and, as much as we all really need that latest smartphone, what we’re talking about today is charity.

Giving to charity of course doesn’t necessarily mean that you get nothing back in return save the warm, fuzzy, glow inside. As it happens there are plenty of gifts that you can give to your friends and loved ones that also happen to do their fair share of good for the needy too. So, here a few ways on the technology side of things that will help set things off on the right foot this year.

Cards

There are three basic choices with Christmas cards and it’s the timing of the last post that might dictate which path it is you choose. You either a) send hard copies, b) send e-cards or c) don’t send any at all. To be honest, we often go for c) under the pretence that it’s greener with the reality that we’re just too lazy. However, for those that wish to keep their friends - and we salute you - there are some really good options online for giving money to a good cause when choosing your cards.



One thing to note is that there are charity Christmas cards and there are charity Christmas cards. The difference is that some give all of the proceeds to charity and some can give as little as 10 per cent. The best place to head to find out the difference is over at Card Aid who guarantee that they give 100 per cent of their profits to the people that deserve it. You can design you own card, use one of over 80 pages of the site's own - which are very good incidentally - or do something in between by customising one of the stock options. Best of all, just about all of them are available as e-cards if that’s the way you want to roll.

If you can’t find what you like at Card Aid, then the next option down is Cards For Charity where the site guarantees a minimum 75 percent share of the donation going to a good cause. The products are a touch cheaper and you’ll also find advent calendars as well. Don't be put off by the budget Father Christmas animation.

Shops

Before we get into the world of pure donations, probably the best way to keep everyone happy is to make sure that the money from the presents you give to your loved ones actually goes on to a good cause.

One obvious way of achieving that is by buying from a charity shop. Sadly, the tragedy of some of these establishments is that up to 73p of every pound you spend at them can often end up paying for the overheads. The way to help get around that is, of course, charity shopping online and the likes of Oxfam and the British Heart Foundation offer very realistic ideas of things that you might actually want to buy with stocking fillers like wind up torches to radios, stadium tours and even a Segway experience. The latter of the two outlets has an eBay shop with some very interesting bits and pieces including a nice collection of old SLR cameras.



Beyond the more obvious, you can head over to Amazon and search for products sold on its site where some of the proceeds are donated. A search under the term “charity products” is one way of doing it but there’s also a list of the top charity DVDs which include Cathertine Tate and the Secret Policeman’s Ball. Likewise, you can do something similar with eBay by searching under terms “charity shops” and “charity auctions” where you can look for any suitable gifts.

Probably our favourite option of the lot though, is the download site Fairshare. Fairshare is like any ordinary music download website with ordinary music download prices and a catalogue of 13.5 million tracks to enjoy. The difference is that half the profits from any purchase you make goes to a charity of your choice. Naturally, gifting is no problem either with the site offering a selection of cards to send your vouchers in as well.

Charity gift ideas

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at a charity or charitable shop, then you could always give the gift of charity itself. This isn’t going to work for everyone. Your COD-crazed teenager might not be too chuffed to open a photo of a donkey you sponsored on his behalf when he was hoping for a limited edition Xbox 360 and a set of tickets for the 2012 COD XP.



All the same, there’s some more interesting options to be found at Charity Gifts where you can do things like fit out a football factory to provide some fun and games for those in Africa or build fishing nets along with the adoptation of pretty much any animal or piece of land for farming that you can imagine. Head over to the Good Gifts and you can even start cleaning and sweeping old land mine fields - not personally, of course.

Donating direct

Of course, if no one else is going to appreciate your charitable gift ideas, then you could always just donate some money to a good cause anyway. One way to do this, and one that’s a good idea if you’re sick of people asking you what you want for Christmas, is to pick a charity you like and ask all of your wouldbe present givers to donate whatever they were willing to spend on your gift to that charity instead.

If you don’t have any particular charity favourites, then head over to Just Giving where you can browse hundreds of good causes by type and nature until you find one that speaks to you. On the tech front, Technology for the Disabled, Access Ability Communications Technology where children are encouraged in IT and SpecialEffect, which helps children with disabilities enjoy gaming, all stood out for us.

The gift of technology

Money isn’t the only currency that charities will accept. Unlike many high street charity shops, Barnados gladly take whatever electricals you’re willing to give and have even partnered with the Royal Mail so that you can do it without even having to walk any further than the post box to do so. They’ll take phones, MP3 players and printer cartridges among some of the easier to fit through the letter box. Each One Counts also has a similar scheme in place.

Gift Aid

Most of all, this Christmas and in general, if you’re a UK tax payer and you’re offered the chance to opt into Gift Aid when you come to check out at an online purchase, make sure that you do. It costs you absolutely nothing but it means that the charity in question can claim back the tax paid on the product, which is already included in the price, and receive it as a donation effectively from you and the Government.

Image credit: Christmas Donation from BigStock



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