Uncovering the reality
behind the giving myths
Making a decision on which charity to support can be difficult.
Many wonder "Can I afford it?” or “Will my gift make a difference?”
and how can I be sure my gift will even go to a charity?"
We've uncovered the reality behind some of the most popular
myths about giving to charity.
Myth 1: We can't trust anyone who asks us for money, they're
Reality: It's easy to check if a charity is
real: look for their charity registration number on any literature.
You can use our charity search to check if the number is valid.
If you're still unsure, you can also try the following:
- Ask if the person collecting represents the charity itself or
if they’re from a separate fundraising organisation. If they’re not
from the charity, ask what proportion of the donation will actually
reach the charity - and make a judgment as to whether you feel that
- Look to see whether the collection box is sealed and if it
bears the charity's name. It’s not legal to collect in ordinary
buckets and other open containers.
- Look to see if the collector has an official badge. Collectors
must display identity permits. Don't be shy about checking IDs
before parting with your money.
- Only make cheques payable to the charity itself.
- Don’t forget - we will only make donations from your CAF
Charity Account to registered charitable organisations.
Myth 2: It's pointless giving to charity; most of your donation
goes on administration costs
Reality: Most charities are well-run and work
efficiently, but they do incur running costs like any other
organisation. Charities need buildings and staff - most of whom
deal with frontline operations - but this often gets mistaken for
NCVO estimates that 85% of charities' expenditure goes on
delivering their programmes of work.
Myth 3: Fundraising costs wipe out most of our donations before
they even get to the charity
Reality: Fundraising and publicity costs are 8%
of charities' total income . For
smaller charities, most fundraising is entirely voluntary. Over
half of the entire charity sector spends just £2.3m in total on
fundraising – and for every £1 spent on fundraising, a charity will
make an average of £5 back .
Myth 4: There are far too many charities anyway – they're just
wastefully duplicating what each other does. I'd give (more) if
Reality: NCVO counts 170,000 across the UK and
while there may be overlap, sometimes charities are local and
specific to the groups who use them.
Myth 5: Most people aren't rich enough to give the sort of gift
that would make a difference anyway
Reality: We know that the least well-off give
more as a percentage of their income. Analysis shows that, on
average, those earning under £32,000 give over 1% of their income
to charity, while those on over £52,000 give just
Small donations can make a big difference, particularly to small
charities. It helps even more if donations are planned, or regular,
so charities can be certain about their resources. You can use your
CAF Charity Account to set up regular payments to your favourite
Myth 6: Giving to charity won't make us any happier
Reality: Research suggests that giving time and
money to good causes makes us feel happier .
How much does the voluntary sector spend on fundraising and
publicity? from the UK Civil Society Almanac 2012
3. John Low calls for wealthiest to support a UK Giving
Pledge, Nov 2011
4. CAF (2010) World Giving Index 2010