If you want to empower consumers, put money in their pockets. This site's dedicated to doing just that... but the charity fund does it even more directly. With more than £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.
This is separate to the money Martin put into the Martin Lewis Charitable Fund when MoneySavingExpert.com joined the MoneySupermarket group. For more information on what Martin's donated, see his blog.
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 Feb 2018: The MSE Charity's latest grant-giving round is NOW OPEN for more information, see below.
Plus, funding totalling a staggering £54,000 was donated after its September 2017 round. To find out who will benefit, see below.
What does it do...?
The charity is currently a grant-giving body, rather than engaging in any projects itself, though it's hoped 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 to 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 have said they'd like to donate to MoneySavingExpert.com as it's saved them money, please donate to the charity instead.
You can donate by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending a cheque payable to The MSE Charity to its treasurer Tony Tesciuba, at The Chambers, 13 Police Street, Manchester, M2 7LQ. A Gift Aid declaration form can be provided on request.
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).
February grant-giving round NOW OPEN
Do you know of an organisation that could benefit from a grant of up to £7,500?
The MSE Charity's latest grant-giving round will support financial life-skills projects from organisations that support people living with long-term challenges such as dementia, autism, learning difficulties, disabilities, brain injury or stroke.
And for this round it's raised the maximum grant value to £7,500 the majority of grants given up to now have been under £5,000.
The round opened on 1 February 2018 for the application form and guidance for applicants, see The MSE Charity's website. Apply early as only the first 40 accepted applications will be considered.
There will be another round in September 2018 focusing on 'building and developing resilience'.
14 charities to benefit following September 2017 round
The MSE Charity has awarded a total of over £54,000 to 14 organisations following its September 2017 round.
September's theme was 'life-changing transitions', focusing on projects that help people going through challenges such as bereavement or homelessness.
The 14 organisations to benefit are:
- Anybody Can Cook: It will support 110 vulnerable older people across Wiltshire experiencing a change in their circumstances, using cookery workshops to encourage them to shop, cook and eat more healthily, while saving time, energy and money.
- Citizens Advice Tunbridge Wells and District: It will offer 12 group sessions to improve the financial skills of up to six people a time, who may be homeless, at risk of eviction or living in unsuitable housing. It'll also offer up to 60 people individual, face-to-face support, and train four volunteers to offer housing advice.
- Citizens Advice Gloucester and District: It will train 40 front-line workers to give financial-capability support, and deliver 200 one-on-one sessions to 100 people at risk of homelessness.
- Family Matters Institute: This charity is behind the support network for fathers www.dad.info, which has over one million users each year. The funding will provide webchat services, articles, videos and how-to guides aimed at teaching financial life skills to fathers going through relationship breakdown.
- Geese: This charity is made up of a team of theatre practitioners who present interactive theatre and help with drama-based groupwork and staff training for the probation service, prisons and young offender institutions. It will deliver two interactive performances of Broke which explores the issues of prison debt to about 120 prisoners as well as a three-hour follow-up workshop for up to 24 prisoners.
- GL Communities: It will train two volunteers to help improve the financial skills of retired and older people, as well as deliver 10 financial literacy workshops.
- H3: This homelessness charity based in Stockport will run 12 training sessions on universal credit, the new form of benefit, to a minimum of 60 people across temporary accommodation hostels, to coincide with its roll-out in the area. H3 will also deliver six sessions on digital skills to 40 people and train five volunteers to support others.
- Humanity Torbay: It will deliver a project touching on mental health, budgeting, education and employment to 48 homeless and vulnerable people, teaching them practical skills such as cookery and offering counselling.
- Liverpool Bereavement Service: It will offer up to 55 people, who have faced bereavement, support through teaching them how to be more financially capable.
- SOS Domestic Abuse Projects: This Essex-based charity will give direct support to 120 survivors of domestic abuse through 'Made of Money' courses delivered by three refuges across the county.
- The Lyme Trust: This charitable organisation, based in Staffordshire, provides accommodation for people living with mental health problems and supports people with substance misuse and addiction difficulties. It's going to give three money-management courses, made up of six two-hour sessions, to a total of 30 vulnerable residents.
- The Nehemiah Project: This London-based charity works with men recovering from drug and alcohol additions, most of whom are prisoners or ex-offenders. It plans to help 57 men by offering budgeting training and financial and debt advice.
- Vineyard Compassion: It will offer five money-training courses to 50 offenders or vulnerable people at risk of homelessness in Northern Ireland, to help them plan budgets and savings and change their spending habits, followed by one-on-one sessions.
- Wipers: This social enterprise based in London will work with 32 young offenders to enhance their financial capability and life skills.
For more information on these organisations, see The MSE Charity website.
MoneySavers' Charity Picks
As well as The MSE Charity, there are five other charities that benefit, having been nominated and voted for by site users. For many of these the donation's made a real difference. For example Re-Cycle has been included in the site's selected charities for years; it sends old bicycles from the UK to the developing world, which are then fixed up, and also builds transport infrastructure.
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 the 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 email meaning a £10,000 donation (once rounded to the nearest £1,000).
Haiti Earthquake Appeal Feb 2010
To help the Disasters Emergency Committee Haiti Earthquake Appeal, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly email 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 of £35,000 to the All Party Parliamentary Group supporting financial education in schools. 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 email 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 12 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 MSE Money Tips email, which will include all details when nominations are reopened.
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 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...
£3,000 went to Children in Crisis as part of this 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 email, meaning an overall donation of £8,200.
To celebrate Comic Relief, 50p was donated per new recipient of the weekly email 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 email 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.
Received a donation of £100.
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)
Plus one-off donations...
South-East Asian Earthquake Appeal 19 Oct 2005
A total of £2,000 was donated as part of the '50p donation for every new recipient of the email tip' drive.
World Vision A MoneySavers' Well 20 Dec 2005
£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 28 Feb 2006
A total of £5,000 was donated as part of the '50p donation for every new recipient of the email tip' drive to fit solar panels for a health clinic in Senegal. So many people signed up that cash was spare to fund health centre equipment, sewing machines, school toys and classroom equipment.
Donations between 12 May 2004 24 June 2005