So, 2016. I’m not sure reviewing the last twelve months is a healthy activity, not least because its many political upsets will only begin to manifest themselves over the next year, if not longer.
One way I’ve tried to deal with this succession of unfortunate events is by being more generous. With fundraisers frequent visitors to my doorstep, beyond one-off donations, I’ve added Battersea Dogs Home to the list of causes I support with a monthly donation. In lieu of not being able to own a dog, this seemed like the next best thing.
My generosity extended into Christmas — as you’d hope it would! Alongside a bar of locally produced chocolate, I asked relatives to pick a charity for which I could make a small donation. Not only was this a great conversation starter, it meant I could support a greater range of causes, such as Riding for the Disabled and Myeloma UK.
Reviewing my first year as a freelancer in April, I mentioned that one of my goals was to start sharing the proceeds of my work:
I remain in a very fortunate position: I get to do what I enjoy, and I get paid to do it. Now, with a better understanding of my financial situation, I intend to share in the proceeds of this good fortune. Donating a portion of my revenue to charities, I plan to divide this up between a local charity focused on homelessness, and another fighting a global concern, climate change.
Speaking to my accountant some weeks later, he suggested giving in a personal capacity. Besides reducing my taxable income, individual donations are eligible for Gift Aid, a scheme which allows charities to claim an additional 25% on top of the original amount. It’s taken me a while to put this into action, but today I chose the two charities I’ll be supporting during this second year of self-employment, donating 1% of my revenue.
Make Change Count is an alternative giving campaign organised by local charities in Brighton and Hove to help rough sleepers move away from street living. If you are able to give money then by giving to local support services you can be sure that your donation will be used to help people get off the streets rather than someone using it to help them stay on the streets.
I’ll also be supporting Friends of the Earth, the UK’s largest grassroots environmental campaigning network. They’ve been campaigning around a number of causes I care about, in particular a ban on fracking. I was tempted to donate to my local group, but I didn’t see a means of recording any Gift Aid. Still, reading about the group’s most recent achievement gives me hope for the future.