If you want to empower consumers, put money in their pocket. This site's dedicated to doing just that... but the charity fund does it even more directly. With over £1m donated so far, it's MoneySavingExpert.com's way of giving back to users.
Two thirds of the money goes to support The MSE Charity which provides grants to groups to provide education and information about consumer and debt issues; and the rest to five general charities nominated by site users.
In this guide...
The MSE Charity
Launched in May 2008, The MSE Charity (registered charity number 1121320) is a grant-giving charity dedicated to improving information and education about debt, money and consumer issues.
Update Nov 2015: The MSE Charity is currently going through a period of strategic review. It is hoping to re-launch grant making in the summer of 2016, please check the site in May 2016 for the latest situation.
What does it do...?
The charity is currently a grant-giving body, rather than engaging in any projects itself, though it's hoped that in time this will change.
Money is available to help any non-commercial group or charity with specific projects. Whether this is working with an individual with a good idea (eg, educating squaddies leaving the army about banking and debt) to working with other mainstream money charities.
Martin explains why it was set up...
One of my early career ambitions was to be the Money Saving Expert on ITV1's This Morning, as that was the home of TV experts, and my aim was to make saving cash a mainstream subject. After all, the programme had stylists, diet experts, psychologists, designers and chefs, yet much of that isn't possible without cash. So if you really want to help people, you have to help them put cash in their pockets to provide real freedom.
It was around the time I started appearing on This Morning that I set up this site. Now the site is phenomenally successful and for years the charity fund has donated to general charities. Yet the aim's still the same, and I thought it was about time to try and focus the charity contributions back towards the key aim of helping people help themselves.
After all, a company's job is to make money, nothing wrong with that; a consumer's job should be to maximise their cash too. Yet while sales staff get training, we don't get buyers' training. Worse still, the UK is a nation that educates our students into debt when they go to university; but at every level – school, higher education and adult life – fails to educate about debt.
So rather than trying to pay off a few people's debts, this charity aims to educate people on how to deal with their money and to tackle financial illiteracy. In other words, to help people help themselves.
Where does the MSE charity cash come from?
The money is generated from two sources:
- Donations from well-wishers.
Anyone who wants to support the charity is more than welcome; for the many who've said they'd like to donate to MoneySavingExpert.com as it's saved them money, please donate to the charity instead. You can do this by post, PayPal or Google Checkout... Donate to The MSE Charity.
- An annual donation from this site.
A donation of over £235,000 was made to launch the charity, and it's hoped a substantial donation will continue to be made each year. This includes all of Martin's proceeds from the Thrifty Ways and Three Lessons books.
All this cash - less some small administration costs, which aren't expected to exceed 10% of income - will go directly to the grant fund (the cost of the day-to-day operation of the charity is met by a separate personal donation from Martin).
MoneySavers' Charity Picks
As well as donating to the MSE charity; there are also five other charities nominated and voted for by site users. For many of these the donation's made a real difference. For example Re-Cycle, which sends old bicycles from the UK to the developing world, which are then fixed up, plus building transport infrastructure, has been included in the site's selected charities for years.
The current charities
The last vote took place in July '08 and the following five charities were selected:
- Re-Cycle: Fighting poverty with affordable transport.
- Help for Heroes: Direct support for our forces’ wounded.
- Shelterbox: Providing tools for developing world.
- CAP UK: Debt counselling charity.
- The Samaritans: Providing confidential emotional support to the UK.
Donations from 22 July 2008 onwards
Total donations so far:
to the MSE Charity
to the nominated charities below
(that's £51,917 each)
Plus one-off donations
Start of Charity Fund donation
£200 each to St. Giles Trust, iT4 Communities, Foal Farm, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Citizens Advice, NCH. £100 to Sightsavers International.
- Comic Relief - Mar 2009
To celebrate Comic Relief 2009, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly e-mail meaning a £10,000 donation (once rounded to the nearest £1,000).
- Haiti earthquake appeal - Feb 2010
To help the DEC Haiti Earthquake Appeal, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly e-mail for a specified period, meaning a £15,322 donation.
- Gift of Sight (Sightsavers) - Dec 2010
A donation of £1,705 was given to Sightsavers for the Gift of Sight for 100 people.
- Financial Education - Jun 2011
Donation to APPG, supporting Financial Education in schools £35,000. See Martin's Blog.
- Gift of Sight (Sightsavers) - Dec 2011
A donation of £1,705 was given to Sightsavers for the Gift of Sight for 100 people.
- Polio vaccines to Unicef - Dec 2012
A donation of £1,150 was given to Unicef for 10,000 polio vaccines.
- Comic Relief - Mar 2013
To celebrate Comic Relief 2013, £1 was given for every new member of our Cheap Energy Club meaning a donation of £22,000 once rounded to the nearest £1,000.
- Tetanus vaccines to Unicef - Dec 2013
A donation of £1,375 was given to Unicef for 30,000 tetanus vaccines.
- Polio vaccines to Unicef - Dec 2014
A donation of £1,650 was given to Unicef for 15,000 polio vaccines.
- Red Cross - Sep 2015
To help the Europe Refugee Crisis, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly e-mail for a specified period, which we rounded up to make a £6,000 donation.
- Tetanus vaccines to Unicef - Dec 2015
A donation of £2,040 was given to Unicef for 40,000 tetanus vaccines.
How to nominate a charity
Periodically a new round of nominations is opened and anyone can suggest a charity. Often hundreds of nominations are received. At that point a group of regular Forum users are selected who have the very difficult task of shortlisting twelve charities. The criteria for this are a mix of charity popularity, relevance to consumer/money issues, and how much impact the donation will have. Once this is done the site poll is used to pick the top charities.
Want to nominate a charity?
If you would like to nominate a charity, do ensure you get the free weekly Martins Money Tips email, which will include all details when nominations are re-opened.
How much has been donated?
Here's the MoneySavingExpert.com donation history since the site launched in February 2003. This money comes directly from the site, and doesn't include any donations made by private individuals to the The MSE Charity. If you're asking "how does a free site with no ads make these donations?" read the How This Site is Financed guide.
Donations between 1 September 2006 - 21 July 2008
To the MSE Charity
Main Charities - £111,918 to nominated charities
- Cancer Research received 20% (£22,383)
- Re-Cycle received 20% (£22,383)
- Tools For Self Reliance received 20% (£22,383)
- Different Strokes received 20% (£22,383)
- Usable Websites received 20% (£22,383)
Plus one-off donations...
Festive Donation: £3,000 went to Children in Crisis as part of the site's Christmas festive donation
Children In Need: In the run up to Children in Need 2007, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly e-mail, meaning an overall donation of £8,200.
Comic Relief: To celebrate Comic Relief, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly e-mail in the run up meaning a £7,700 donation.
Burma Cyclone Appeal: A total of £7,500 was donated as part of the '50p donation for every new recipient of the e-mail tip' appeal.
Charities Aid Foundation: £1,100 was given to this charity which provides low-cost banking, financial and training services to other charities.
Govan Law Centre: received two donations, £9,000 and £1,000, for providing legal support to the Bank Charges campaign.
National Eczema Society: received a donation of £50.
JustGiving-cimaracing: received a donation of £100.
Oxfam: received a donation of £500.
Donations between 25 June 2005 - 31 August 2006
- Samaritans received 26% (£20,344.59)
- Re-Cycle received 22% (£17,214.65)
- Send-a-cow received 20% (£15,649.68)
- CAP Debt Counselling received 18% (£14,084.72)
- Wateraid received 14% (£10,954.78)
- South-East Asian Earthquake Appeal donation 19.10.05 £2,000
A total of £2,000 was donated as part of the '50p donation for every new recipient of the e-mail tip' drive.
- World Vision - A MoneySavers' Well donation 20.12.05 £2,000
£2,000 was donated via World Vision to build a well in a desolate part of Africa, providing clean water for 10 villages.
- World Vision - Solar Panels for Senegal donation 28.02.06 £5,000
A total of £5,000 was donated as part of the '50p donation for every new recipient of the e-mail tip' drive to fit solar panels for a health clinic in Senegal. So many people signed up cash was spare to fund health centre equipment, sewing machines, school toys and classroom equipment.
Donations between 12 May 2004 - 24 June 2005