We define philanthropy as the giving of resources in an engaged and strategic way for maximum impact and in a tax efficient manner. It can include the giving of money, assets, time, talent, voice and one’s social capital. We believe in the power of philanthropy as a great social connector and the source of many great opportunities.

City Philanthropy

A Wealth of Opportunity

Donating Money

No article on how to give money to good causes is complete without the iconic quote:

 “It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place.” - Andrew Carnegie (The Gospel of Wealth, 1889).

By 'intelligently', what the steel magnate and one of history’s greatest philanthropists meant is to give in a way that will do the most good, have the greatest impact and the least waste.

It may seem the easiest thing in the world to give money away – but when you take a moment, questions start to occur -  How much should I give? To what? To whom? How? Where do I start?

And then the real questions start: how do I know my money is being used well? Could it be used better? Could I multiply the money I give?  Should I give over a certain time period?... the list is pretty extensive.

Some of those questions are answered in our Getting Started pages.

City Philanthropy Coach Caroline Fiennes is also full of excellent advice on how to give effectively.

There are also books that can help.

And there are advisors who can provide practical support.

But here are a few basic principles that if you follow will help you make the most of your philanthropic pound.

  • Give tax effectively: The UK has a generous tax regime for givers. Make sure you take advantage of Gift Aid and if you give regularly do so through a payroll giving scheme. Setting up a charitable account means Gift Aid will be automatically claimed. Find out more about how to give tax effectively at HMRC
  • Multiply your money: Matched giving schemes are a good way to double your donations so look round for schemes: the government is currently encouraging giving to endowments with a matched giving fund. Find out more about Community Development Foundation Endowment Match Challenge. The Big Give runs a Christmas matched giving scheme.  
  • Give time and money together: By giving time as well as money you can magnify your impact. There are many organisations who will be interested in using your talent and skills as well as your money, such as venture philanthropy organisations Impetus – The Private Equity Foundation.
  • Don’t ‘give away’ your money – invest it: ‘Giving away’ money is an old-fashioned concept. Modern philanthropists take an investment style approach. They may still give money to organisations or individuals in grants or one off donations but they first check if they are giving it to effective organisations and they want to understand its ROI. An alternative to giving is to invest money through social investment organisations and funds that recycle the money you give through loans that are repaid.At the far end philanthropic investment spectrum are social investment opportunities that offer a financial, as well as a social return. Find out more about social investment

Once you have decided how you plan to give you can find a charity to support with our Charity Chooser tool.

Below are a few ideas on ways to give according to levels of investment:

£0 to £10,000

Payroll giving - the most tax effective way to give cash

Giving through a charitable account such as CAF

Join a giving circle or network

Socially invest – Prism Fund

Give to a Community Foundation

Invest using the Social Stock Exchange

Let your savings do good by using Charity Bank


Set up a charitable trust

Set up a charity or a social enterprise

Join a donor advised fund - check out the National Philanthropic Trust and UBS

Socially invest - find out more at Big Society Capital

Become a venture philanthropist - check out Impetus-PEF