As a nation, the UK ranks highly for charitable donations, we give more in overseas aid than most other developed countries. But as individuals, how much are we really willing to donate to charity?
The Charity Aid Foundation’s (CAF), latest survey suggests that despite growing economic uncertainty, we are still giving more than we have in previous years. The study also shows that women are more likely to give than men, the young are less likely to donate than the old and our favourite causes to give to are religious organisations, followed by overseas/disaster aid and medical research.
For some of us, counting pennies is a way of life and giving to charity takes some consideration. Worry not, because there are many ways to give that don’t include parting with cash. Volunteering is a great way to help others by donating your time rather than your resources. Could you spare an hour a week to work in a charity shop? Or help out at a food bank? As well as bringing a little bit of hope into the life of a stranger, it has been proven that charitable giving actually makes us happier! The same parts of the brain which light up when we are doing pleasurable things (e.g eating chocolate or watching Game of Thrones), also become more active when we give to others.
Giving can include simply donating unwanted items like that patterned tie you were given for your birthday but never wear, or the old baby clothes you have stored in the loft. What may be of no use to you could make the world of difference to someone else.
We can even give by simply buying the right products when we go shopping. By spending on Fair Trade products we are inadvertently giving by ensuring the third world farmers/producers are earning a fare wage for their work. Similarly we can buy clothing from reputable manufacturers who don’t use underpaid factory workers to produce their items. By making small changes and doing a bit of research it’s amazing how big of a difference we could collectively make.
The CAF survey highlighted the fact that giving in the UK peaks in November. The run up to Christmas makes us all feel more generous and the big push on charity marketing campaigns also plays a role. However, it’s important to remember that like a dog; giving isn’t just for Christmas. We can actively change lives during the other 11 months of the year too. If not for the disadvantaged, do it for the warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get inside!