How to be a better donor in one easy step

It’s easy to be a better donor. All you need to do is ask for your donation to be used for core costs.


1.      Because if you ask any charity* what they need and what they find hardest to fund, they will always reply “core costs”. Take this diagram from the recent State of the VCSE Sector in Somerset report which shows the responses to the question ”what three areas do you find it hardest to raise funds for?”

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If you trust the charity to deliver positive social change, then why not trust them to know what they need to spend your money on.

2.      The clue is in the name ‘core’. These are all the things at the heart of a charity that they need to pay for before they can do any good. They are often not very interesting: electricity bills, auditor fees, rent, IT support contracts. The largest cost is usually staff wages – vital if you want to build trusting relationships with the most vulnerable people in society. Staff salaries, including for senior managers and CEOs, are not a ‘nice to have’ – they are fundamental. A charity cannot commit to supporting a care leaver for the next few years as they transition into adulthood, if they don’t think their team or even their organisation will still be around to see this through. Neither can they commit to providing vital community transport or counselling for someone with a life limiting condition or being there for people in recovery from mental ill health. They need a solid core to offer consistent and long-term support. And surely that long-term help is what any donors wants to support?

3.      Charities are experiencing many demands – loss of statutory funding, increased demands for services, changes in technology. They need to adapt – to work with others, to deliver services in new ways, to grow or develop. If their core is wobbly then it is hard to find the time, the headspace, the resources needed to make good decisions about how best to change. There is a need to invest in the core of any charity to ensure it continues to focus on delivering relevant, quality services – and if it is looking to grow then, of course, the core needs to grow too.


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4.      And finally, as a donor giving core funding, you can feel reassured that you have done the most good you can with your donation. You will have demonstrated your trust in your chosen charity, your commitment to their future and your understanding of what they need. I have no doubt that you will receive heartfelt thanks.


* I am using ‘charity’ to mean any social purpose organisations including voluntary groups, community interest companies and social enterprises.

This blog was featured as a guest blog on Localgiving on 3rd April