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Ways of giving

Woman holding bucket© InfoThe government is seeking ideas for building a stronger society - what it calls Big Society. At the beginning of 2011 it proposed some new ways of giving time and money to good causes such as charities.

Below are quick summaries of some of the new ideas for giving money to charities. They are followed by some ways to explore them, in small groups or as a class:

Charity giving ideas

  • Shoppers could give small amounts every time they make a payment with a debit or credit card. For instance, you order a takeaway pizza, pay for it by debit or credit card, and donate to charity just by rounding up to the nearest pound. You don't have to give much, but together it could generate significant new funds for charities.
  • Bank customers could give to charity through their bank's cash machine. Some ATMs allow customers to make a donation every time they withdraw money.
  • Internet users can donate money to charity at no cost to themselves, just by doing an online search. Everyclick, a search engine used by people shopping online, donates the fees online retailers pay it for referrals to their websites to a charity chosen by the user.
  • People are influenced by peers – other people like themselves. Knowing that other people give to good causes encourages them to do it too. But people underestimate how much other people do give. If there were creative ways to see what people actually give, the peer effect will increase giving.
  • The government is wondering whether to try to establish a "social norm" about how much people should be giving to charity. Some say people should give one per cent of income, others ten per cent. What should be the level, and is it a good idea anyway?


  • Rank the ideas in order, best to worst. Use different criteria: which is likely to raise most money, which is easiest for the donor, which requires least organising?
  • Choose one idea then devise an advertising campaign selling it to the public. What would encourage others to join in? What slogan and what visual image might motivate people?
  • Use the different ideas to think deeply about what motivates people to take action of any kind – not just giving money. Everyone might agree that a particular act would be a socially useful, but not everyone does it. What makes the difference?

This story is from the 26 January 2011 edition of newsthink, the news-based education resource. Sign up to receive free news discussions, videos, audio clips and photos every fortnight via email.

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