Philanthropy Impact

Inspiring philanthropy and social investment across borders, sectors and causes

Resources to find charities

 

Highlights

  • Many people start by giving to organisations that approach them for support, or that come via a personal recommendation.
  • Others want to give in a more pro-active way, selecting effective charities that tackle a specific cause. 
  • There are a number of ways you can access information: through online research, by linking with existing experts in the field, and through specialist intermediaries.
Read more about Resources to find charities

 

Most people start by giving to organisations that approach them for support, or that come via a personal recommendation. However, some people want to give in a more pro-active way, selecting effective charities that tackle a specific cause. But with over 160,000 registered charities in the UK alone, there are likely to be a number of charities that match your funding interests in terms of cause, size, location and so on.

It is usually straightforward to identify the biggest players in each field. However if you want to give to smaller organisations, or to charities working in underfunded areas, working locally or addressing an unmet need, it can be challenging to find appropriate organisations where you are confident that you donation will have an impact.

There are a number of ways you can access information: through online research, by linking with existing experts in the field, and through specialist intermediaries.

Talking to people is a great way to gather ideas about organisations to support. Simply asking friends, family and colleagues which organisations they are passionate about will help you find charities you might otherwise miss. As you investigate different opportunities for charitable giving, you are likely to come into contact with a number of people with expertise in the area who you can ask for advice and recommendations.

Finding charities online
To get an idea of what charities are working in the area you’re interested in, the Charity Commission is a good place to start. It has an advanced search which allows you to identify charities by activity type, geographical location, size of organisation and a number of other attributes. Separate regulators exist for charities registered in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The charity regulator websites usually display summary information with an annual report, so you can look in some detail at a charity’s operations. Other websites with similar search engines include Charities Aid Foundation, GuideStar UK and CharitiesDirect for UK registered charities.

If you are interested in a particular cause, it is useful to look at umbrella membership bodies with a specialism in that area; for example, when looking for charities tackling homelessness you could investigate the Homeless Link website. These bodies should provide a list of their members, and also supporting research, information on policy developments and other useful information. You can usually find the relevant membership body through online searching or through sector-specific research reports such as those produced by NPC.

Finding charities locally and internationally
If you want to find small projects focused in a geographical area, the website Local Giving is a good place to start as it provides information on vetted local projects. However you may want to take a step back and begin by finding out more about local context and pressing needs, in which case the local council for voluntary service (CVS) should be able to help. They will have a lot of local expertise, and may be able to suggest projects in need of support. Alternatively you could explore working with established local funders to find out which of their previous grantees are having a big impact in the area. See Giving locally.

The websites See The Difference and The Big Give list projects to give to internationally. However note that these websites do not necessarily conduct due diligence on projects, and it’s important to do your own research once you’ve identified candidates for support. See Giving internationally.

Working with intermediaries
If you lack the time to undertake research it can be useful to work with an intermediary. Community foundations, for example, are locally based charitable intermediaries designed to help donors connect with local projects. Their knowledge of local circumstances, and experience of assessing, administering and monitoring grants, means that they can be a very efficient way to fund.

Alternatively specialist philanthropy advisors can help by identifying suitable project and organisations which meet the focus areas you have decided upon. Independent philanthropy advisors (see list below) are experienced in long listing projects based on your interests, and short listing candidates for support based on detailed due diligence. You can choose what level of involvement to have in this process; you may want to identify projects yourself and ask an advisor to conduct due diligence, visit the charity with the advisor to see their work firsthand, or simply review recommendations made by your advisor.

Glossary: community foundation

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