Charidee and MoneySaving: how to be tightfisted and openhearted

MoneySaving and charity. One involves keeping cash in your pocket, the other involves giving it away. Yet these are surprisingly compatible – you can have your cake and eat it (or give it away if you prefer).

Gone are the days when you need to call a street urchin from your window and order a prize turkey to show you have a heart. There’s now a wealth of tricks to help your inner Scrooge pay less but give more to charity.

Whether you run a marathon, shave your head or bathe in Bovril, your sponsors can now find the fundraising site with the best rates to make your efforts that bit more worthwhile. Or if you’re less adventurous, make your donation work harder using tax loopholes like payroll giving and Gift Aid, or even donating old shares.

And if you’d rather keep your wallet closed, you can use your mouse to help end world hunger through sites like TheHungersite and, my personal fave, There’s one important aspect of charity giving that doesn’t have its own article on MSE yet, though – the ‘random acts of kindness’ guide.

Not long ago, whilst lunching with some fellow MSEers at GBK, we realised we had more restaurant vouchers than people. Spotting some kids about to order at the next table, we squirreled them the vouchers and they came back from the till with big grins – and extra pocket money.

The concept’s simple, adaptable and free. If you’ve got a lonely relative who’d love to have more visitors, go and see them. If you’re fed up of hearing about your great aunt struggling with the computer, help her use it. And if you’ve a MoneySaving tip of your own that could help a friend, relative or stranger save cash, pass it on.

Once you start looking, projects based on this principle are everywhere – the guerrilla gardeners are a group of anonymous vigilantes that use their own time to turn local wasteland into public gardens in the twilight hours, whilst giveaway sites like Freecycle effectively allow you to turn old junk into useful donations.

Skills swaps are another great way of giving for free; I know a resourceful Spanish teacher who’s been swapping her language skills for guitar lessons for years – without a penny ever changing hands.

With Christmas just around the corner and street fundraising pleas imminent, this concept is one charity donation that everyone can take part in, because it doesn’t cost a shilling.

I’m a firm believer that the best things in life are freebies – but there’s no reason why this shouldn’t extend to giving as well. In the words of closet MoneySaver Bill S. Preston, Esquire: ‘Be excellent to each other’.


Share your own random acts of kindness and MoneySaving charity donations in the forum discusson.