Current options

Here we describe several services that meet some of the needs of the donors we described in the previous section.  We take a broad view that includes options from outside the charity sector.

Philanthropy matching

Sites such as The Big Give focus on helping individual donors find individual projects, allowing donors to search for projects typically by keywords, type of cause and location.  The main appeal is that donors can discover projects that are a good fit for their personal values and interests, implying a close relationship between a charity and its supporters.


JustGiving and similar services serve as payment collectors for charities.  Generally, any charity can register with the site, and any individual can register a fundraising page for that charity.  They either take a cut of each payment or charge a flat fee, justified by them making the fundraising process streamlined and easy to use, and handling payments.  This is a compelling and popular option when collecting money.


Several branches of government deal with areas of charity.  The Department for International Development (DFID) manages the UK’s aid budget.  The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) manages the system of domestic benefits, which plays a major role in addressing homelessness, unemployment and disability.  The tax-funded National Health Service is the sole health provider for most UK citizens, with almost all essential services provided free of charge to users.

These entities receive their funding from government revenue.  It is uncommon but possible for individuals to overpay taxes or donate to the government, and individuals making high-value contributions may be able to make stipulations about where their contributions should be used – but in general there is no ring-fencing of funds to protect welfare and aid budgets from changes in government priorities.


Lotteries are a major source of grant funding for a wide range of community organisations and projects.  The National Lottery is licensed by the government, overseen by the UK Gambling Commission, and encouraged to operate independently.  The “donor” in this case is considered to be primarily a consumer of the lottery game offered, and has no input into how grants are distributed.

Payroll Giving

Some organisations provide a system to take employee donations directly out of salary.  Employees may prefer this over managing their giving directly from their own accounts, or may use the opportunity to give collectively to causes.  Some systems allow donations to any charity, or it may be limited by the system supplier or the organisation.

Community organisations

Organisations such as Rotary clubs bring together local members as donors and support local community projects and causes, as well as any of their members in need, and some more general causes.  Demonstrable impact of some grants is of high importance. The local organisations may join together to form a national network, united by a shared ethos or leadership. Some religious organisations operate similarly.  At a smaller and narrower scale, supermarkets and businesses also look to make contributions to local or special-interest causes.


Websites such as Kiva enable individuals and businesses to provide capital for low-interest loans to small-scale businesses in developing countries, which might be an effective alternative to aid and direct service-provision.

Small grants

Going one step further than low-interest loans, there is active research into the relative efficacy of making unconditional grants to individuals and families in developing countries.  While not currently under consideration in the UK, several countries have discussed and trialled the related idea of providing a government-organised national income to all citizens.

Special cases

Comic Relief

Comic Relief is for most intents and purposes a normal charity with a focus on tackling poverty, but has a special relationship with UK culture, resulting in an annual event supported by national media.

Radio 4 appeals

BBC Radio 4 reserves a number of short programming slots each week for its charity appeal.  3-minute slots are used to highlight the work of the week’s charity.  Radio 4 selects a different charity each week, 49 in a year, and manages donations from its listeners, also allowing listeners to set up a regular donation to be split evenly between all charities.  This raises approximately £1m each year.

Continue: where are there gaps in provision?