MoneySavingExpert Charity Fund

Taking on financial illiteracy

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 more than £1 million 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.

Then there's the money that Martin put into the Martin Lewis Charitable Fund when MoneySavingExpert joined the MoneySupermarket Group – for more information on this, see Martin's blog.

In this guide

The MSE Charity

Launched in May 2008, the MSE Charity (registered charity number 1121320) is dedicated to improving information and education about debt, money and consumer issues.

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.

Update Sep 2018: The MSE Charity has now closed its September grant-giving round, having received 40 applications. The charity has two themed grant rounds a year and four themes that rotate through a two-year cycle – the next round, on 'raising the next generation', opens on 1 February 2019. Visit the MSE Charity's website for more info.

Following its February 2018 round – which focused on 'living with long-term challenges' – the MSE Charity funded eight projects with over £43,000. To find out who benefitted, see below.

Martin explains why the MSE Charity was set up...

One of my early career ambitions was to be the Money Saving Expert on ITV'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 as it's saved them money, please donate to the charity instead.

    You can donate by contacting info@msecharity.com 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).

Eight projects benefit from Feb '18 grant-giving round

Following its February 2018 round the MSE Charity awarded a total of over £43,000 to eight organisations.

The round focused on projects that support people living with long-term challenges, such as dementia, brain injury or stroke.

The organisations – which will use the funding to teach financial life skills – include:

  • Autism Able, a specialist education service and well-being centre for people on the autistic spectrum living in South Tyneside.
  • Bute Advice Centre, which helps vulnerable members of the Scottish island community to fight poverty and social exclusion with impartial and confidential advice and assistance.
  • Community Housing Aid, a registered charity that provides practical advice and support to people who are in a vulnerable housing situation or homeless in Exeter and the surrounding area.
  • Paul for Brain Recovery, which helps people after brain injury by providing advice and support.
  • Headway Portsmouth and South East Hampshire, a registered charity that offers support, advice and information to adults with head injury and/or acquired brain injury.
  • Pip – Parents in Partnership – is a registered charity based in Croydon. Its aim is to offer opportunities to parents and carers of children with special educational needs and disabilities.
  • Pembrokeshire People First, an independent registered charity run by and for people with learning disabilities and/or autism.
  • West Dunbartonshire CVS, a Scottish community development agency that works with over 940 local voluntary-sector organisations.

For more information on how these organisations will be using the grants, see the MSE Charity website.

Visit the MSE Charity website or discuss it in the MSE Forum.

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 donations have 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. It also builds transport infrastructure.

The current charities

The last vote took place in July '08 and the following five charities were selected:

  • Re-CycleFighting poverty with affordable transport.
  • Help for Heroes: Direct support for our forces' wounded.
  • Shelterbox: Providing tools for the developing world.
  • CAP UKDebt-counselling charity.
  • SamaritansProviding confidential emotional support to the UK.

                        Donations from 22 July 2008 onwards

Total donations so far: 
         £1,034,872
         including

       £657,734
to the MSE Charity

                     £319,585
to the nominated charities below
           (that's £63,917 each)

Plus one-off donations...

  • Start of charity fund donation

    £200 each to St Giles Trust, iT4Communities, 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.

  • UK Athletics – Feb 2016
    A donation of £325 was made.

  • Unicef – Jan 2018
    A donation of £2,001 was made.

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 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 our How this site is financed guide.

Donations between 1 September 2006 and 21 July 2008

£404,084

  •                                                                 £254,016
                                                            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 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.

    • Comic Relief

      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 weekly email' 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 and 31 August 2006

£78,248

  • Main Charities

    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 weekly email' 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 weekly email' 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 and 24 June 2005

£39,680

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